Dog training is an essential part of being a pet parent, but sometimes the same techniques and games day in and day out can get a bit stale. So, why not spice it up a little by utilizing some more creative ways to train your dog?
Obviously, a good number of these may not be unique, but they’re excellent tools in building your dog’s obedience levels up.
It also makes him a better behaved pooch overall.
These ways range from simple games to full on training methods, most of them testing your dog’s mental capabilities and evolving them through education and play.
So what are these intriguing techniques then and how feasible are they to perform? Let’s find out.
The 7 Creative Ways To Train Your Dog
1. An Exchange Game
A neat game, albeit one that takes time and isn’t as physically demanding as some of the other ones.
However, it’s a great way to teach your dog how to share, or to drop something that he shouldn’t have in his mouth.
The process is relatively simple, start off by getting your dog one of his favorite toys, wait for a bit then move on over as if trying to take it.
Give him some sort of auditory cue every time you do so that he can pick up on.
Now, instead of taking it, get some treats that you’ll throw nearby, ones that are more enticing than his toy and then take it when he drops it to go after the treats.
Once he’s done eating, wait for him to come over and give him his toy back, then rinse and repeat over time until this turns into a habit for him to the point where he expects to get something every time you make that distinct noise upon approach.
When he gets used to it, instead of using treats, simply offer your hand in front of him and say a command like “drop it”.
It can also be something else that’s simple and intuitive to replace that auditory cue you initially trained him on.
Keep doing this until it becomes second nature to him, giving him a treat every time he does what you want from him, after which you can slowly transition the treats out of the whole ordeal.
2. Hide And Seek
While a bit redundant to play with some of the world’s best trackers, it can still be a fun way to teach your dog how to fine tune their sense of smell and their own tracking skills.
For this you’ll need to have your dog know to at least come to you on command when you call them which can initialize the search in the first place.
While he’s guaranteed to find you almost every time, it’s good to start off simple and then work your way up to more complex spots that may prove a bit more challenging to him.
Not only is it helping improve an already useful skill, it’s also sure to be quite entertaining for both of you.
3. Make Him An Agility Course
If you’re looking to train a show dog, an agility course is an excellent way of improving his dexterity as he’s likely to be facing one in a dog show.
But not only that, it’s a way to get him more physically and mentally motivated all in one go.
Not to mention that it’s somewhat engaging for you as well as you’ll be tasked to try and improve the challenge of the course each time.
This’ll help keep him on his toes.
Obviously, some dogs may not take to this immediately or may need some prior training through the use of commands.
But, once you have that settled, this should be the next step forward in order to further sharpen those commands and cues.
You don’t have to be a full on handyman either, you can simply use some household objects to create a makeshift course or get a modular one online to allow for different combinations.
Just make sure it’s safe so your dog doesn’t get injured and you can enjoy your pseudo-LEGO experience while your pupper enjoys the challenge.
4. Hot & Cold
The classic game of hot & cold can be done with dogs too.
While it needs knowledge of basic commands on the dog’s side, it’s a different spin on the hide and seek game where you can help both train his nose and his spatial awareness all at once.
On top of all that, he’s also learning how to listen to your cues which is greatly beneficial in overall behavioral training without it feeling like a chore for either of you.
Plus, since the object can be smaller than a person, it’ll be a lot more challenging for your pooch with plenty of new hiding options to choose from.
The method simply has you saying “Hot” when your dog is nearing the object in question and “Cold” when he’s moving away from it.
5. Learning How To Keep Eye Contact
While this may seem like a silly bit of training, teaching your dog to look at you on command can keep him distracted from barking at a usual trigger.
It can also help in calming the dog down by focusing his attention away from the source of fear.
It also helps in deepening the bond between you two through said eye contact as it helps release the oxytocin hormone best known to trigger that feeling of attachment.
This one doesn’t need any prior training and can simply be completed through the use of treats.
Take a treat and hold it in front of your face, asking your dog to look your way.
Once again, make sure the command is simple and brief, something you can easily speak and your dog can process.
Once he looks your way on the given command, hand him the treat and repeat every so often.
Then, once he gets used to it, slowly phase the treat out so he looks at you regardless and keeps his focus on you for as long as you need him to.
6. Utilize Toys
While this is a given, I’m not referring to your usual assortment of tug toys, frisbees and KONGs, but rather more interactive puzzle toys that test your dog’s mental capabilities, teaching him how to be a proper little problem solver.
A great number of these are available, be it in the form of some intricate acquisition method via button presses and moving levers, or just a bunch of plush toys in a container used for hide and seek.
As always, they’re best used when you hide some reward inside them.
Treats are usually the universal option, but some of the ones that don’t involve easily stained toys can also work with peanut butter.
These toys require minimal input on your end and can be a great reprieve from the constant physical tasks.
If, however, you’d want to make these toys yourself, you can, and on a pretty good budget too.
One simple way is to just use a few plastic containers that you can stack atop one another in different positions, hiding a treat in each one and making your dog go through them.
Another, somewhat more effort intense method, is to grab a few plastic bottles, skewer them with a rod, then attach said rod to a base, allowing your dog to rotate the bottles with his paw.
Next, you’ll want to hide some treats inside and have your dog interact with the bottles to get them out by properly rotating them.
It sounds simple, and it is but it still ends up being a lot of fun for the pooch and it helps teach him how to be resourceful to get what he wants.
7. Changing Walking Routes Often
The final bit of advice is a bit of an odd way to approach dog training, but it works as a test of your dog’s obedience levels.
Taking the tried and tested routes just ends up becoming somewhat monotonous too, both for you and your canine companion.
That’s why going down somewhere completely new can both confuse and excite him.
However, it’s also a test to see how well he can hold himself back from sniffing everything and hurrying to mark new locations without pulling you along.
It’s something you’d want to employ later down the line when he has some obedience training in him and when you’re confident in it so you can further steel his loyalty.
A Word Of Warning
While all of these creative methods are great and all, you can see that a lot of them do require a little bit of prior training.
Don’t go trying them out before meeting all the prerequisites if there are any as you may not find them as effective as they’d normally be.
Also, some of them can be dangerous, like the exchange game, if your dog is known to be aggressive or selfish.
Consult with a dog trainer to get some pointers or have him assist you when attempting some of these to get the most out of them.
There are plenty of creative ways to train your dog, more than I’ve listed here that’s for sure, but if I went on any further, we’d be here all day.
Know that your only limit is your imagination really, and the usefulness of the training method.
But, as long as it’s fun, it’ll find its way as a potential new mainstay activity for you and your pooch to enjoy.
Until next time, pet parents.