If you own a dog of your own, or even just spend a bit of time around dogs and their owners, one thing will become clear quite quickly. Some dogs are far more well-behaved than others and, by extension, some owners seem to be a lot better at dog training. But why are some people so much better at training than others? It comes down to two main things, method and the way in which the method is applied. Of course, there can be many factors at play, such as your relationship with your dog. You must build up a solid relationship of trust with them. Without this, movement and rewards won’t really matter and you will struggle to train them. It’s important to bear in mind that developing a really good relationship with your dog, where they not only love and trust you, but hang onto your every command and word, can take time. In fact, it is a lifelong process that is constantly developing! But, having a good foundation of a relationship with your dog means that movement and other rewards will have a far greater effect on them. That is what we’re going to be looking at in today’s post, alongside some tips to help you master the art of using movement to motivate your dog!
The method that you use to train your dog is undoubtedly important. Here at Royvon, we like using progressive, science-based methods that are based reinforcing the behaviour that we want with rewards. They are better and more fun for the dogs and the owners! But, we know that they also drive real results that can definitely transform a dog’s behaviour. On the other hand, some methods simply don’t work, and up to a point it does depend on the dog. However, it is the way in which the training method is applied that separates the very good dog handlers from the not-so-good handlers when it comes to dog training and handling.
One of my favourite methods of motivating dogs to follow commands is using movement. This can be very motivating for your dog! However, if you’ve ever watched one of our training sessions, you will probably have noticed that our trainers tend to motivate the dogs with several things at the same time. Although movement is my favourite method with most dogs, I think that it works a whole lot better in conjunction with other things, too! These could be going on at the time, used before another stimulus, or even after. Knowing what to do with all the correct body movements and other motivations can be a challenge for even an experienced dog trainer, never mind an inexperienced dog owner! So, if this is you, everyone at Royvon is fully aware of and understands the challenges that you may be facing. But, hopefully this article on the important benefits of using movement to motivate your dog will help you become more like the dog owners you may have envied in the past!
Why use movement?
Most dogs are really stimulated by movement. Many dog’s origins involved movement of some kind, whether this was hunting, running, or working in some other way. So, for me, using body movement to keep them engaged works really well, and you’ll soon find that they are hanging on to your every action! Each action that you make should be a stimulus with the aim to either attract your dog’s attention, to distract them from something else going on in the environment, or to reward them for their focus on you and their training.
What sort of movement should you use?
Different things will work for different dogs, but here are some of the types of movement we use here at Royvon to keep them focused on you, or to reward them for a job well done!
Moving your hands at a distance from your dog. You can use this to communicate commands to them, even if you’re not up close. It also works well for encouraging and motivating them. An example of this would be clapping your hands in an exaggerated way.
Moving your hands when you are with your dog is a nice way to show them affection and encouragement. However, it can also work well to convey commands to them, remind them of what they’re supposed to be doing, and give them direction for other rewards.
Body movement such as changing direction, running away, and ducking and diving is a really fun way to work with your dog! They’re sure to enjoy this game, and it keeps their focus on you or can be used as a fun reward. You can try varying your speed and moving between high and low positions to really engage your dog in this movement. Imitating how dogs naturally play is a winner, when you get the hang of it. So, make sure to watch out how your dog plays with their dog friends, and you, and try to imitate that.
Using movement with toys is another popular option with most dogs. This could include withdrawing the toy very fast and engaging with your dog, shaking it, using your body to hide it, and tugging the toy with your dog at different levels. Your dog will love playing in this way and it is a really good way to motivate most dogs!
Using a combination of these motivating movements strategically will definitely help you in your dog training journey. It may take some trial and error to work out what works best for you and your dog, as each one may be motivated by a different combination!
It must be said that not all dogs will be motivated by movement. However, we have found that most are motivated, at least to an extent, when the movement is carried out correctly by someone that the dog loves. Let’s take the stimulus of clapping. It can be used to exaggerate your movement to really catch your dog’s attention. Clapping on it’s own would do nothing, maybe even scare the dog, but by pairing clapping with something the dog likes, will result in clapping enhancing your dog training moving forward.
But, I think that it is definitely important to use any movement strategically to make sure that it doesn’t reach the point where it means nothing to your dog. Use it alongside stimuli or as a reward for a job well done, to ensure that your dog associates with your strategy or plan correctly. Also, make sure that you’re tuned in to your dog. When you are learning, be observant about what actions and movements from you result in positive actions from your dog! You can use this information to build a strategy for the commands they need to learn, the behaviour you expect from them, and the consequence or reward for doing that behaviour.
Using movement to motivate your dog is a fun, fast, and positive way of helping them along their training journey! Hopefully you will enjoy ducking and diving, picking up speed, changing direction, running away, hiding, and all sorts of movement with toys and other training aides to engage your dogs in your future training. If you want to learn about using movement to train your dog in depth, we can help with one of our training sessions! We have sessions to suit all needs and budgets, and you can find out more about them on our website.
If you have any questions please reach out as we’re more than happy to help. Also don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see how we use movement in training, and all of our future dog training videos, which will also help you along your way!
Darren is the Managing Director of Royvon Dog Training & Hotels. The business has been in his family for over 60 years! Darren uses this blog to share knowledge and information about dog training and more.