Did the dog trainer just give you permission to spoil your dog? YES, I did! Clients often sheepishly tell me things they do as if I’m going to wag my finger at them and tell them they shouldn’t do certain things. This is one thing that I really think sets Force Free trainers apart is that we don’t wag that finger at you or your dog. We understand each of us “loves” our dog in different ways. Some ways do help promote good behavior and others accidentally promote behavior we don’t want. But, just like the reward is determined by the learner, the behavior we don’t want is determined by the dog’s family. By implementing a few changes, we can help them feel like royalty without creating a lot of that behavior we don’t want. Here’s 10 ways you can properly spoil your dog.
Give Cookies When They Make You Laugh
Every day dogs do things that make us laugh. Whether it’s chasing a leaf that is fluttering thru the air or laying like a dying cockroach, I get at least one good belly laugh from my dog’s behavior every single day. If your dog isn’t doing things that make you laugh, then you probably aren’t guilty of spoiling him. But if he does, give him a cookie when you get a good belly laugh from his behavior. He’ll do more of it just to earn those cookies and less of those things that he is being judged for!
Give Really Good Cookies When They Come When You Call Them
Speaking of giving your dog cookies, treats, rewards, or whatever you want to call them… if you call your dog, don’t get stingy on this one. Now is the time to lather on the spoiling. Yummies, petting (if they enjoy it), and lots of happy words! You can take this advice and use it for anything you really love for your dog to do like sitting instead of jumping, being quiet when they might otherwise bark, laying in their bed instead of chasing the playing kids, etc.
Really Get To Know Them
The best way to spoil someone is to take time to listen to them. The same is true of our dogs. Learning to really understand what they are saying to you and then showing them you understand will totally ROCK THEIR WORLD. Not sure how to learn what your dog is saying you can always contact us or start with this amazing website.
Give Them Daily Walks and Let Them Sniff
Your yard might be big and they may have a bunch of toys out there, but getting a chance to check their facebook is not something dogs can do without you. So get them out of the house, down the block, and into areas they don’t normally go. They will be able to find out what Fido is up to, what Chopper ate last night, and whether or not Rocky finally caught that squirrel. Walks are great for exercise, but if you really want to spoil your dog let him sniff until his heart is content.
Buy Them Toys That Have Places For Food
Feeding toys, aka enrichment toys, are the best way to spoil your dog. You will never be able to buy them all. Some are expensive and very high tech and even require your dog to have his own tablet, while others are inexpensive and just require your dog to use his “smarts” and a little muscle to get to the food. Don’t have a lot of leftover money, no worries. We have you covered in our Two Broke Dogs series or empty food containers (egg cartons, cereal boxes, etc.) with a little kibble inside of them serve the same function.
Have a Family Game Night
Family game night with Fido? Yes, the whole family can be involved. There are board games specifically designed for you to play with your dog and as an added bonus it helps them learn a few new skills. Our favorites include: Funagle, Woof, and My Dog Can Do That.
Take Car Rides to Nowhere or Somewhere
Not all dogs like them, but some absolutely adore car rides. For dogs that love car rides, a car ride to Starbuck’s for a Puppacino or Dunkin’ for a Doggie Donut is a real treat. You don’t necessarily even have to take them anywhere, a car ride with the windows down enough for their little noses to pick up all those great scents in the world will make any dog feel extra special. Those extra smells, sights, and sounds for dogs that enjoy these kinds of things can wear them out. Added bonus, visit a park and go for a stroll. If your dog doesn’t enjoy car rides, we can help make them more enjoyable which will help you when you have no choice but to take them somewhere they need to go.
Take Them To New Places Often
Just like with car rides, new places are great options for spoiling your dog. Don’t you love when you get to go to the new fancy restaurant that just opened in downtown? Good news, your dog doesn’t need the fancy restaurant. A simple change in the walking route or different hiking trail can be the cat’s meow, or in this case, the dog’s bark. As a bonus you can pack a picnic, and sneak a little something in the basket for him.
Give Them A Special Place to Lay in Every Room (including the Kitchen)
In our classes and private training we teach a “go to mat” behavior which is for many people, go to your bed. What better way to keep your pup out of trouble than teaching him that there is a special place for him to be no matter where you are in the house. Buy him a comfy bed for every room and teach him this is his spot when you are busy in that room. If you want to put some icing on the cake, you can add a yummy stuffed Kong when you need him to stay on the bed. Give me a great snack and a comfy bed to rest and I’ll be your best friend!
Let Them Sleep With You
Everyone has their limits when it comes to dogs in their beds so I’m not saying you need to do that, but let them sleep in the same room with you. It’s very comforting to know your loved ones are nearby. If you aren’t opposed to a cuddle session, make it happen. They won’t think they are in control if you let them have that space near you. Just be sure you can politely ask them to “off” if you need them to. After all, some nights you just need to stretch out, right?
Now that you know how to spoil your dog, GET TO IT, and tell those naysayers that the trainer said to!
Tara Houser, KPA-CTP, PMCT-2, CSAT, CDW
Tara is a certified trainer and behavior counselor. She specializes in separation anxiety, thunderstorm and noise phobias, and aggression. She has attended numerous workshops and professional animal training courses, and participated in obedience, agility, flyball, and nose work with her own dogs. She has been training professionally since 2010.