Raise the dog of your dreams or retrain an older dog to make good choices is as easy as playing the right games. The Hot/Cold game can lead to a confident and problem solving best friend that adds to the harmony of your home. There are no older dogs or puppies that are untrainable. Even more surprising, if your dog is older and misbehaving, you may not believe this, but it is your fault. I know. That's a lot to swallow, but hear me out. Reinforcement is the key to everything. Somewhere along the way you reinforced your dog to do all the things you wish they would stop. Here's another surprise... you still are. It's not that you don't know how to train, but that you are actually a great trainer. You have just managed to train all the wrong things. Your absolutely great at this. The good news is that you can reshape behavior. It's as easy as playing a game where you don't need to do long training sessions or go crazy with homework.
You may be saying "I've never trained my dog to do any of these things". Do you chase your dog around to put on the leash and then they get to go outside? Do you try to calm your dog while you are holding them and they are barking at others? Do you breakdown and throw the ball while your dog continually brings it to you? If so, this relates to saying "Great idea!" This game is going to be a game changer. (Pun intended).
Life Should Be Fun
Here's how it works. To stop the madness you simply have to concentrate on having a deliberate relationship with your pet. The Hot/Cold game is perfect. To do this simply wait for your dog to do what you would like to see again and immediately reward it (Hot). When you are experiencing behavior you don't want to see again, ignore it and stop talking and freeze (Cold). Example: If your dog runs around like crazy when you walk towards the leash, stop walking (Cold). Wait for them to stop (Warm). Do not say sit, do not talk to them, just stop (Cold). When they calm down, take another step towards the leash (Warm). You can keep going as long as they are remaining calm (Warmer). I don't ask dogs to sit (that's cheating), they can do anything else except be bonkers. If they are patient, I tell them what a good job they are doing (Hot). No need for treats. The leash is rewarding all on it's own and you don't become a human cookie jar. This also builds confidence. They are making choices, good choices and being rewarding for them. They are winning and you are too.
What if your dog is barking at others while holding them?(Freezing Cold) Simple put them down on the ground. They find it cuddly in your arms or even worse you are petting them to calm them down. Putting them on the ground will quickly be associated with barking in your arms and it will no longer be rewarding. When they stop barking at others, pick them up again (Hot). It was their choice to stop. Then they are rewarded for playing the game and making good choices by returning to your arms.
Thirdly, demanding or jumping on you to throw the ball (Freezing cold). Don't. If your dog is jumping on you, wait till they decided to do anything else. Standing, backing up, sitting, laying down (Hot). Anything is a better idea then pummeling you. The moment they elicit another behavior throw the ball. Dog's have choices and this is a game. Learning to problem solve and come up with the correct answer should be fun.
Most importantly, don't "helicopter parent" This should be a game that your dog is playing with you and it's no fun if you are giving them the answers. Refrain from saying "sit", talking to them, and NO eye contact until they choose some other behavior. (They love when you are looking at them lovingly. Just as powerful as a cookie). Instead, notice their ability to concentrate in their face as they problem solve the game.
88 lb Kita learning not to jump on us to throw the ball, but instead put it on the floor to have it thrown.
Replacing Frustration With Joy
Teaching your dog to make decisions that are rewarded not only raises a confident dog, but they are also rewarded for problem solving. Being rewarded for decision making creates a less stressful life for you and a confident, trusting and well behaved pet. You can play this game with multiple behaviors.
We would love to hear what behaviors you are playing the Hot/Cold game with in the comments! Life is a game and enjoy playing it.