Image Credit: Debbie Fuller

Tips & Exercises to build your Puppy into your Future Sports-Dog

When you bring your puppy home it can be a little daunting thinking about everything you need to train in order to develop them into a future sports-dog! This week and next week I am going to share some of my top exercises I teach puppies from the get go to build them into future sports stars!

This week we will look at:

  • Crate/Bed Games for Self Control and Teaching Boundaries
  • Body Awareness to Teach Confidence and Proprioception
  • Reinforcement Zone
  • Puppy Grids

Crate/Bed Games to Teach Boundaries

Crate games are a really important part of your puppy training to teach self control and boundaries. When you are starting crate and bed games with your puppy think about boundaries and be creative! Don’t just use your crate and your bed, use boxes, furniture and objects that create your boundary criteria. You may find yourself in a situation where you don’t have a crate or a proper bed, if your dog knows bed/crate games you can apply it to everything!

Body Awareness to Teach Confidence and Proprioception

Mix body awareness with bed games, create a stepping stone with cushions, pods and wobble boards between one bed and another or between a bed and a crate. Let your puppy learn to walk across the stepping stones from A to B. Create the confidence to walk from a big cushion to a small pod or a very wobbly board.

Use a wheelbarrow to teach balance and confidence. After teaching your puppy the value for the wheelbarrow and to balance in it, ensuring that you respect your pup’s capability to balance in something that moves, increase the difficulty by moving the wheelbarrow around and take them for a ride!

Target something with back legs for your future 2on2off position. Start with a board on the ground and teach your puppy to lift back legs and place them on the board. Raise the board gradually against a wall and let your puppy find his own 2on2off position using back leg awareness.

Reinforcement Zone (Heelwork Position)

Start shaping the reinforcement zone with your puppy; teach the value for staying close to your leg. Use a stool or a perch and shape front legs on and then teach your pup to pivot around with back legs to find your reinforcement zone on both sides! Remember that for agility and sport in general you want a balanced dog, don’t work your reinforcement zone only on one side!

When your RZ is established, see if there is value with movement. Zoom forward with your pup in your RZ and let him chase you, then stop, what does he do? Will he try to find the RZ again or will he run passed you and keep running? Build these exercises up until you can do it with more arousal.

Puppy Grids

You can do the first grids with your puppy in your living room, your legs are the jumps. Place yourself on the ground with your legs out in front of you and open and place the toy on the other side. Use the bed as a start line for your pup and release to the toy! Ask someone to play this game with you so that you have 4 legs for your puppy to start playing around with grids!

lauren langmanAbout the Author: Lauren Langman is responsible for the design and development of all Devon Dogs classes, events and workshops. She competes in Agility at Grade 7, the highest rank of competition in the British agility arena. She regularly competes and wins at top agility events in the UK including Crufts and Olympia, and has represented the UK at World Agility Championship level on many occasions.

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