If you have a puppy, or you train puppies, this will be one of the most important messages you ever read. I was recently contacted about a “scared” puppy. The owners got him at 8 weeks old and the puppy was quite shy. He did not want to go outside so they picked him up and carried him outside and tried to walk him. He refused. He just sat down and wouldn’t budge. They tried to lure him with treats, they managed to gain a few steps, but then he would just sit and not move again. They carried him further away from the house and tried the same thing, and achieved the same results. When they started to walk toward their house, the puppy would get up and start pulling them to get home. This had gone on for about 2 weeks and the puppy was now 10 weeks old. My advice to them was simple, take the puppy where he is most comfortable, and... PLAY WITH HIM!!!
Chase and Catch is a great place to start for several reasons:
It’s a cooperative game and creates distance so the puppy won’t feel pressure when he is farther away from his owner.
It taps into incredible natural drives present in all puppies that is super fun for them and builds confidence.
It creates a proper relationship and kickstarts the process of turning you and your puppy into a team.
Number 3 is INCREDIBLY important.
I am not interested in “engagement” or tricking the puppy into ignoring what is going on around him.
I want him to understand we will go through life together as a TEAM. Once the puppy understands Chase and Catch, he will absolutely love it and become hooked. He will view you in a totally different, and much better way. Now you can take him to different places and play the game. Go out on your front lawn and play. If he’s confident and loving it there, start expanding to other places. Explore his new world as a TEAM.
Notice I have not mentioned giving him food.
There is a very important reason for that. Don’t mix food and play. You are affecting very different parts of the brain, and giving food while teaching play is NOT a good idea. I go into detail about this in Treat Chasing 2.0.
Teach your puppy to love the interaction with you.
I teach you how to do this perfectly in my Chase and Catch training lesson. Make no mistake, proper play is the most POWERFUL thing you can do with an unsocialized puppy. Teaching a puppy to play is ESSENTIAL for puppies to develop properly and not develop behavioral issues down the road. I have been breeding Malinois puppies since 1989, and my first advice to every new puppy owner is: PLAY WITH THE PUPPY.
Teaching your puppy to play games with you is the foundation to having a confident, well balanced and amazing puppy and dog, throughout their life. It all begins with PLAY!