This might not seem like it's related to training, but trust me when I say it is.
The foundation of all of my training programs for my own puppies starts and ends with play.
Play can be beneficial in your training for many reasons.
It makes training much more fun for you and your dog, especially if play in training seem like one and the same thing.
It develops your dog's concentration and focus. Just like with us humans, it's much easier to focus and concentrate on something for long periods of time if it is an activity that you enjoy. Notice how I allow Quorra to take her time to run her victory laps before she re-initiates the game by jumping into me with her toy. I don't need to beg her for attention because I know that when she's ready she'll come back and play again.
You get faster and more enthusiastic obedience – particularly if you were training in sport, obedience where speed, precision, and power are valued.
It can be used as a gauge for your dog's emotional state prior to training. If I have a dog that comes in lazy for the play, then I know that I need to build his energy and enthusiasm up before starting the training with him. If I have a dog that tends to err on the side of crazy, I let her settle into the game and ensure she is thoughtful in the play before I start obedience.
If you know how to teach play properly, it no longer becomes about the toy, but the dog values the interaction with you first and foremost. [Case in point, watch until the end of the video where you see Quorra drop the toy when she knows the game is over, and we both walk out of the room without it].
It teaches the dog to be thoughtful through the excitement. Watch the video carefully. Quorra is only allowed to win the toy if she pulls rather than just hanging off of me. She must hold the toy without chewing when I put my hand under her chin and tell her to hold. She must out immediately when I tell her to out and back away from the toy before she's allowed to get it again. She must go into obedience as soon as I ask for it as well. She must also end the game when I tell her she's done.
While there are many different types of games that you can play with your dog, you want to find one that you and your dog both enjoy together.
What are the favorite types of games that you like to play with your dog? Can you think of ways that you can use it to enhance your training today?