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Sun, Jan. 19

Powers: 10-minute training sessions for fun and entertainment
All About Pets

Lacy and BoJay love the platforms and know that treats will follow any good tricks. (Courtesy)

Lacy and BoJay love the platforms and know that treats will follow any good tricks. (Courtesy)

Particularly when it is colder outside and a little sloppy, our dogs still crave entertainment and exercise. The two walks a day are mandatory, at least in my house, unless it is pouring. Be prepared to come up with some extra entertainment.

As I write this, it is raining rather heavily. We have not walked and I have two very bored dogs. This is when mini fun sessions come in particularly handy.

Try a 10-minute training session. Naturally, treats are part of this program - and you can be sure the dogs will look forward to the sessions.

Depending on how much training you have done in the past will determine where you begin with this program. The first step is to get your dog’s attention. Have some great treats close at hand. Have him stand in front of you and ask him to sit. When he complies, tell him “good” and give him a little treat.

Next, have a treat in your hand and hold it in front of your face. Ask him to “watch me.” You want him to look directly at your face. When he is looking at you, say “good” in a very upbeat voice and give him the treat.

Now hold a treat in your hand and move it away from your face - small steps at first - and as he looks from the treat back to your face, say “very good” and give the treat. Take your time, maybe days, to eventually move your hand with the treat to arm’s length away. Lots of praise and treats for sure.

Getting your dog’s attention is step number one for any training, whether it is for obedience, agility, or just simple exercises like the following:

Calisthenics: No matter how many dogs you have, these exercise are fun and easy for them to do together. Have the dogs stand in front of you.

When they are focused on you, ask them to sit, down, stand and sit. Start slowly until they realize what is expected of them. When they get it, you can repeat it a time or two but do not let it get boring or annoying.

Be sure to give a treat at the end of each set. You can do this on a platform. Do you have a people’s exercise platform? Michelle Pouliot, a former top trainer for Guide Dogs for the Blind, developed a whole program of training using these platforms or any elevated sturdy surface on which the dog feels comfortable.

No matter the size of your dog, these exercise platforms are great for training. And the dogs love them. Once they get accustomed to them, when you lay them down on the floor, it is difficult to keep the dogs off of them. Therefore, you have to pick them up and lean them against the wall when done with them.

Start very slowly with the platforms. As with any prop, you want the dog to be totally comfortable with it before you can expect him to feel free with it.

Gently lay the platform on the floor and let the dog approach it at his own pace, smell it, totally check it out. Praise him as he gets closer and if he happens to put a foot on it, praise and treat immediately.

But be sure to let him take his time. The goal initially is to get the dog comfortable with the platform and then slowly encourage him to put all four feet on it. This will take a couple of sessions. Do not rush it. It has to be fun and rewarding.

My dogs know that whatever they do on the platform will probably earn them a treat, so they are all IN!

Once your dog is comfortable on the platform, start doing the calisthenics on it. And remember, lots of treats!

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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