Depending on your dog of course, one of the common challenges in agility training is motivating an unmotivated dog. I think one of the problems that we as humans have in our relationships with dogs, is that we don’t know to really ‘connect’ with our dogs on a case-by-case basis. We pack yummy treats to our agility class, or their favorite tug toy, but what used to seem to work for our other dogs, or even the same dog, is no longer working very well. What do we do? We need to immediately stop doing what doesn’t work. There’s a neat saying that says “Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result”. So if we want to be smart, we need to do something different. Maybe even something outside our comfort zone (Yes, I’m talking about acting silly and talking baby talk if necessary!). The main point is to find what REALLY drives your dog crazy. But what if there isn’t anything that your dog is gets really excited about? I suggest finding something then that he is most motivated by, even if isn’t as much as you’d like, and then using that item in agility training ONLY. Don’t flood him all week with something and then expect that during your training sessions that he’ll go nutsy over it.
Here is my list of ideas. If you have any others, please add a comment!
- Don’t use anything that doesn’t work. Switch gears fast.
- Pay attention to what motivates your dog best, especially during non-agility times. Then use this reward in your agility training, but not any other time.
- Be willing to change your motivators from time to time as needed.
- Be creative. Something the best motivator is one you’d least expect of your dog!
- Get less serious. Take more time to play with your dog after a succession of accurately completed obstacles. Wrestle and roll on the ground if necessary.
- Shorten your training sessions and always end them on a positive note. Do not drag it out so long that your dog gets tired and loses interest. The goal is to create only positive memories of your agility sessions.
For more ideas on this subject, we suggest this article in our Learning Center: Agility Help For My Dog. Also, this is a great article from Annelise Allen of Agile Canines…”The Importance Of Playing With Your Dog For Motivation”.