So….I dropped a turkey leg on the floor in front of our dog on Thanksgiving day last week.
What does this have to do with dog training tips?
Let me explain.
It’s Thanksgiving afternoon and it’s (finally!) almost time to eat dinner. The bird has been cooking all day and the house is full of the smells of delicious food.
As usual, there are too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s crowded and everyone is getting in each other’s way.
Someone gets out an electric knife and turkey starts to get cut and put on a platter.
I’m stacking turkey, looking for a spoon, and doing three other things at the same time.
Just as my dad is asking whether or not we have mustard to put on the table, my sister is handing me a giant, golden brown turkey leg.
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I’m thinking “why in the world would we need mustard on Thanksgiving?!?”
Meanwhile, the delicious turkey leg slips out of my hand and falls toward the floor.
I look up and see our dog inches away, watching the turkey leg fall.
It was like it was in slow motion.
I see her watching and I see her tongue come out and lick her lips in anticipation.
She follows it to the floor and our eyes meet…
What happens next?
Three years ago, she would have inhaled the whole thing in one gulp. On Thursday, amazingly she didn’t eat the turkey leg.
How did that happen?!
I used two simple dog training tips that we’ve learned at home.
A while back, we learned a technique called The Calm Freeze. Since dog’s respond to our energy level, it’s all about keeping cool when a situation arises with your dog.
For example, if you’re walking your dog and you see trouble ahead, it’s not good to get excited and yank on your dog’s leash and start yelling.
Your dog will pick up on this escalation and match your energy.
You can apply this to day to day activities too. If your dog jumps on the bed, don’t start yelling. Your dog will likely tune you out.
Instead, stay calm and remove your dog from the bed.
So how did I use the Calm Freeze when the turkey leg hit the floor? I didn’t freak out.
Instead of immediately screaming “NOOOO!” and diving for the floor, I stayed calm.
Remember how I said that me and my dog made eye contact as it was falling to the floor? That was critical to what happened next.
My dog was actually paying attention to me at that moment. That attentiveness came from what we learned in dog training tip #2.
A few years back, someone told me that teaching your dog to sit is one of the most valuable commands you can teach your dog.
I didn’t believe them. I thought it was just a silly trick. I was wrong.
Sit actually tells your dog to stop doing whatever she is doing and pay attention. This can come in handy in all sorts of situations, especially when they are giant turkey legs on the floor.
The eye contact and the attention came from the time I spent together working on Sit. When you work on a command with a dog, you strengthen the relationship you have with your dog. Your dog learns to listen and pay attention to you.
So, back to the turkey leg. I did two things when the turkey started flying. First, I stayed calm and kept my energy level low so that my dog didn’t freak out.
Second, I calmly told my dog to sit. Amazingly, she sat and I picked up the turkey leg.
The reason this worked is because I had taken the time to teach her the command. You can do it too! I’ll show you how.
It’s easy to teach your dog to sit. You just need to be consistent and spend a little time each day. Here are the steps on how to train your dog to sit:
Repeat this several times, and your dog will soon put two and two together. Once he figures out what he is supposed to do to get the treat, start saying that the command “sit” when he sits down. Again, keep practicing at this and he will start to associate the command with the action.
The goal is to get to the point where your dog will sit with just the verbal command. Remember, you can teach this to just about any dog, no matter what age. It just takes a little time and patience.
Well, there you have my story of dropping turkey legs and dog training tips. I hope it helps you and your dog. Remember, it doesn’t take much to make your good doggy even better!