Does your playful dog have a hidden genius for natural mischief? This is a true story:
My dog once taught herself how to open the gate in the backyard.
To be clear, I assume she “taught herself”, because I know I never taught her that genius Houdini trick!
(And yet, the dog trainer angel hovering over my shoulder warns “Never assume!”)
So, has your dog ever taken you by surprise? Made you wonder, “How did she figure that out?”
In other words, have you ever wondered why you were surprised at all by your dog’s ingenuity at figuring things out?
To ask it another way, did my dog open the gate because she dreamed of roaming the neighborhood? I doubt it. I think she opened it because she wanted to and because she could. She paid attention, she observed how I made the gate work, and then she decided she could play that game too. And so she did. And it was fun.
(Dog trainer angel on my shoulder yelling: “Aha! So it was you who taught her how to open the gate!)
Your Playful Dog is a Genius, Too
My point is that your playful dog is no different from my playful gate-opener. That’s because the environment is every dog’s playbook. And they are always inventing better games, rising to every challenge.
💚“Playing is our natural way of learning. In this way, we explore the rules of our environment…” Esra Van Beelen
Discovering ways to manipulate their world starts when dogs take their first breath. We know that when puppies grow up in enriched environments they have more creative playbooks. And playfulness is what makes them geniuses at their game. That means that if we don’t keep up, their genius will surprise us.
So that brings me to “crazy simple dog training tip” #3: (Find the first 2 tips here.)
Crazy Simple Tip #3: Your dog was born to play. Dogs naturally learn by playing. Everything you want your dog to learn you can teach by playing games.
For too long, playfulness was the missing ingredient in the way we raised and trained dogs. Not to say we didn’t play with our dogs. Of course, we did. The part we missed is that play is training.
Training your playful dog is entertaining, imaginative, and incredibly productive.
“When joy and work are combined, increased productivity isn’t a goal, it’s an outcome.” Dr. Peter Gray
And the best part is that playful training is so easy to do! The rules are mostly flexible – just stick to a few basics and you can’t go wrong. Mistakes? No worries! Shrug it off and start over. Training games have only winners!
Honestly, the hardest part is wrapping your mind around the idea that so much fun could really be work!
The Art of Training Your Playful Dog
By now I hope you’re curious about the art of playful training. Have you ever questioned:
- How do professionals hold a dog’s attention as if by magic?
- What signals do pros use that are invisible to humans – unless you know where to look?
I promise it’s no mystery. In fact, as long as you care about dogs, anybody can train a playful dog.
10 Pro Tips
Not convinced? Let me help you with that. I put together a list of playful things you can do to prepare your dog to walk on a loose leash without pulling:
10 Pro Tips for Walking Your Dog on a Loose Leash, Simple Steps to Keep Your Dog Engaged with You.
You won’t find force or punishment on the list. What you will find is the secret to holding your dog’s attention “as if by magic”.
The download is free, of course. However, I do want you to know that you’ll also find affordable opportunities for more detailed instruction and videos about training with games and being productive through play.
What About My Playful Genius?
Oh, and about my gate-opening genius?
So I found a way to lock the gate because I knew her genius brain would never unknow what she knew how to do.