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Cool Summer Training Tips

Debbie McKnight / Accredited Petsmart Trainer

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Depending on what part of the country you live in, summer can just be too hot to train your dog outside. So for those days when even an early trip to the park isn’t in the cards, it's best to train and play inside. It takes some creativity, but you don’t have to let your training take a backseat to the heat. Here are some ideas for continuing to improve your dog’s skills while staying cool.


“Penalty Yards” 

Do you have certain places (PetSmart, the dog park) where your dog drags you towards the excitement? If so, penalty yards teaches a dog to walk politely even towards distractions. 

Set up a bowl of food/pile of treats/favorite toy at the end of your hallway. You and the dog set up at the other end of the hallway (starting line). When the dog is sitting politely, begin to walk towards the distraction. If he keeps the leash loose the whole way, let him have the food/treats/toy. If he pulls towards the distraction say, “uh-oh” and then walk backwards to the starting line and begin again. He’ll learn to control himself to get the goodies.


“Go to Mat” 

In most households there is a lot of excitement when the doorbell rings and visitors arrive. To keep your dog safely out of the way (and to really impress your friends), teach him to go to a mat when the doorbell rings. 

Initially, you’ll need to teach this with no distractions, but as soon as he’s good, practice walking to the front door and sending him to his mat. Once that is easy, start having someone that was just inside with him (so he’s not too excited to see them) go outside and ring the doorbell so you can send him to the mat. Progress to letting that person in once he’s on the mat. As he gets better you can progress to other people ringing the doorbell and you letting them in.


“Stay” with Distractions

The “stay” command is infinitely useful for keeping your dog out of trouble. Once your dog has the basics and can hold a stay for 30-60 seconds with no distractions, you can begin to introduce distractions. 

Any of the following, one at a time, are good to try. Just put your dog in a stay and then try: you sitting down, you doing jumping jacks, you lying on the floor, the kids running through the living room, the other cats/dogs in the room, bouncing a ball, squeaking a toy, setting down a bowl of food, ringing the doorbell, opening the back door, someone petting the dog, you leaving the room, or anything else your dog finds distracting. Stay is only useful if the dog can do it no matter what is going on.

It’s important to make an effort to exercise your dog early or find a cooler option (swimming, indoor doggie daycare), but for those times when that’s not possible, these suggestions will mentally stimulate your dog and help relieve boredom. Don’t forget, PetSmart training classes are held indoors so you can train no matter what the weather.


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