If you’re ready to start Ditching the Routine then its best to start with ditching something else - the bowl. Every morning we start the day with a pot of value, our dog’s daily food allowance. We can decide how to use that value, but too often we chose to put it in the bowl. Our dogs love their bowls, but we want them to find the value in our relationship. Instead of pouring their food away it becomes an almost endless currency (unless you have a tiny dog!) you can use to boost your relationship. Their food can be used for training, enrichment, or rewarding good choices.
When life throws us a curveball we feel uncomfortable, nervous, and sometimes, even scared. One of the things making life difficult around the world during this pandemic is uncertainty and the disruption to our daily routines. Humans go through life with routine, we get up, go to work, come home, and have regular activities. We know exactly when to do something and where something is. It has been proven that those with a routine lead a more productive lifestyle. But the more routine we have built into our lives the more uncomfortable we can feel when it’s disrupted. Often, that’s because strong routines can leave us unflexible and unable to adapt to change quickly.
Our dogs also have routines, ones that we have created for them. They know when breakfast (and dinner) is, when to get us out of bed, and when its time for a walk. Most even know Thursday evening means class or Monday afternoon means a visit to the retirement home. They may not be able to tell time, but they notice the little predictors leading up to an event that says “routine” for them. When you put on your shoes you are leaving, when you pick up the leash they get to go too. Something exciting happens whenever the doorbell rings, visitors mean even more excitement. We are often told dogs thrive in routine when in reality routine can create dogs that are more excitable and unable to cope with change. A common complaint is when the dog won’t let their owner sleep in on the weekend. In reality that early wake-up time is a routine we created.
When you call your dog’s name do they come bounding towards you, meander back to your side (with or without some stops along the way), or seem to not hear you at all? Recall, or the ability for your dog to come when called is often regarded as one of the most important behaviors we train our dogs. It can be disaster avoiding when two unknown dogs are barreling toward each other or lifesaving when a dog is running into oncoming traffic. Yet it often remains one of the vaguest concepts for our dogs to learn and one many dog owners struggle with. In fact, most owners don’t realize what they want from a recall. When we are unsure what we want our dogs to do, how can we expect them to meet our expectations?
Owner, Head Trainer