The first thing I teach any dog

Mikasa is our guest for a couple weeks from Marcato Shepherds. She’s here for some problem solving in the breed ring and skill building for competition obedience. Mikasa is like a lot of the dogs we work with, she’s had a little bit of training at home but her owner struggles with making progress in training.

Reward based training is really hard with unmotivated dogs, so the first thing I always do with a new dog is develop great rewards! Here’s a video of Mikasa learning a game called “Scatter.” It’s a pretty simple treat tossing game but there are lots of benefits.

Scatter is a game with food that acts like a game with toys. I use Scatter so I can get started teaching dogs the things they need to know before our toy games are developed to a point where I can use them as a reward in training.

It’s a simple game, but there’s a lot going on. After eating a single treat, the dog has to turn back to you to see where the next treat is tossed. Turn away from distractions and look at you for what to do next is exactly what you want your dog to do in busy environments. One of my favorite easy training games is to play Scatter in every new place I take my dog as soon as we get out of the car (on leash!). It dials the dog in to paying attention to you.

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