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Gamify Your Dog Training
In this book, Terry Ryan, a recognised, worldwide expert at improving both dogs and handler skills with the use of training games, provides us with over 70 such games to allow you to add creativity and fun to your training classes.
Specifically designed to provide an opportunity to enhance behavioural skills, such as self- confidence in every day environment, and to increase fluency of behaviours and training skills. These games provide a great way to build relationships, communication and have fun whilst successfully and efficiently running a training class.
Ryan begins with setting the stage for success. She describes this chapter as the keystone to all that follows, explaining that this book is somewhat of a curriculum development resource, just in the form of games. She takes us through the meaning behind the definitions and categories used, as well as what kind of venue you will need, and the necessary equipment and props you will require. She also gives some tips on effectively organising your class.
We then move on to the games. For each game, Ryan talks us through the benefits and pre-requisites; how to set it up; what it involves; variations of the game; and where the instructor can give feedback and tips.
The following first six games are designed to assess the skill level of both dog and human:
I Spy- To determine how people handle their dogs, and how the dogs cope with being handled.
Three Banana Party- For the dog to focus on handler in a distracting situation
Roll of the Dice- A cue response game suitable for assessment
Tic- Tac-Toe – Pause- Another assessment game involving sit, down and lead work
The Stadium Wave- An assessment game involving distractions
Trace the Letters- A loose lead walking game.
The next games concentrate on establishing basic good manners, they then later move on to include more distractions or responding at a distance with some retrieving and scent work thrown in. The games towards the end can be easily adapted for special occasions.
You Rock- Lead work and proximity to other dogs in a safe manner
Pick a Card- A game which requires calmness and focus
Green Light- Response to basic cues
My Hat’s Off to You- Testing verbal cues
Flimsy Leash- Lead walking skills
Shape Up- Learning from others
Tic Tac Toe- Advanced- An advanced version of the previous game which tested sit, down and lead work
DIY Family and Friends Board Game- A fun game to teach the younger generation about responsible dog ownership.
Monkeys in the Middle- To test basic in place behaviours
Use it or Lose It- Putting basic behaviours into real life application
Olympic Symbol Games- To test lead walking and recall
Spoon Weave Relay- For lead walking skills
Obstacle Course- Introducing the dog to new obstacles
Good Citizen Puzzle- An introduction to the exercises in the Canine Good Citizen
Wheel of Fortune- Another fun way to practise basic behaviours
Hockey Hat Trick- For loose lead walking and dealing with distractions
Four on the Floor- A game to encourage creativity and trust
Waltzing Matilda- Teaches dog to accept mild restraint
Thread the Needle- To build trust in unusual situations
Bandana Relay- Gives the dog the opportunity to accept ‘being messed with’
Dress for Success Relay- A handling game
Blind Man’s Bluff- A fun game for friends focusing on handling
Monte Carlo- To practice holding a stay
Please Pass the Spaghetti- For dogs to maintain composure in a novel situation
Like a Statue- Experience at accepting and being reinforced for gentle positioning
Hound Dog Hula- A game to practise impulse control, attention and ‘leave’.
Get a Grip- Impulse control for stays
Spot On- To test precision and timing of cues
Baseball- Practise maintaining behaviours among distractions
Safari- For the dog to negotiate new surfaces
Pizza Delivery- Appropriate impulse control and good manners
Dueling Dogs- To practice sit stays and being left
It’s a Wrap- A handling game
London Fog- To build confidence with the recall
Let’s Tie One On- To help dog learn touching his collar is a good thing
Impersonations- To teach dogs they are safe in a novel environment
Beach Party Lim-Bone- A game to ignore distractions and build impulse control
Doggy Café- A break in the middle of a games session
Moji Moji Kun- To encourage group co-operation
Mine or Yours- An opportunity for dogs to approach each other and turn away
I Hear a Symphony- To practice task analysis, creative thinking and development of an effective shaping plan
Surfin’ USA- Maintaining a stand on a different surface
(Don’t) Watch Your Step- To test dog’s attention and fluency when walking on a lead
It’s the Pits- A game to make handlers aware of actions that promote or trigger playing keep away
Gold Rush- To teach politeness when carrying things and holding your dog on the lead
Pair the Socks- To build fluency in retrieving
Folk Dancing- To practice calm when other dogs are moving at close proximity
Pass the Buck- To encourage lateral thinking in handlers
Doggy 911- To build a trusting relationship with handler
Red Rover, Red Rover, Call the Dog Over- A game to promote attention and motivation for the dog to rejoin his handler
Musical Chairs- For combining loose lead walking and stationary exercises at a distance
Bullseye- To practise emergency downs
Baguette Retrieve- To test the reliability of fetch cues
Par for the Course- A recall game
Dogzilla Strikes Again- For distance control
The Shell Game- Allows the dog to use their scenting skills
Scrabble- Builds retrieving fluency
Spin the Bottle- Emphasises targeting behaviour and cue discrimination
Ten Chances- A distance game which test response time
Tunnel of Love- Build attention and recall cues when in close proximity to other dogs
Search Circles- Encourages speed and fluency in retrieving
Christmas Stocking Relay- A festive game to test lead walking and retrieving
Come Back, My Boomerang- Dogs learn to be sent away to a target and back
Decorate the Christmas Tree- A game that tests target training and retrieve in the dog, and lateral thinking on the part of the handler
Shoot the Basket- Tests taking cues at a distance
Trash Collection- A basic scenting exercise
Jigsaw Puzzle Retrieve- To encourage dog to pick up a stationary item
What a Turkey- An exercise useful for introducing the clicker
Bobbing for Apples- Another game for retrieving fluency
I Wonder What’s in the in the Box- For improving down stays and impulse control
Decathlon- A team building/ good citizenship style exercise useful for teambuilding
Finally, Ryan provides us with a series of games for people only, which helps the handler to work on their co-ordination and skill as a trainer, away from the dog.
A must have manual for all dog trainers, Pat Miller, comments, Terry Ryan never disappoints, and this is classic Terry Ryan at her best; I marvel at (and envy!) her creativity and ability to put joy and fun into training. If you can’t find dozens of wonderful games in this book to liven up your training classes, you aren’t trying!
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