by Steffi Trott
As a dog trainer, I work with all sizes of dogs: from teeny-tiny lap dog puppies to Great Danes and other giant breeds. If you are the owner of a Corgi, you have probably discovered an issue that can make training a bit tricky: Your dog is really low to the ground – and it will be hard on your back to bend down constantly. Here are 3 tips for you on how to make training more fun, and less uncomfortable for you!
Lift ‘em Up
If you don’t want to bend down – well, then your dog might just have to be raised up! In dog trainer circles, it is actually pretty common to teach dogs to hop up onto platforms to practice their behaviors, or stay while other dogs have a turn. These platforms can be agility tables, specifically made training platforms or simply something you have around the house – you can easily make your own for example from PVC or wood. Even a sturdy plastic box with a towel on top (to prevent slipping) will work.
Teach your Corgi to hop up on this and then train just like you normally would. You can work on position changes (such as Sit-Stand-Down), spinning left and right, giving you a high five or stays.
Use A Spoon
One of the behaviors that requires you to bend down the most is loose leash walking. You want to be able to reward your dog a lot while he is in the correct position next to you, but with a Corgi that can become tiresome for your back real fast. Instead of using individual treats, try this:
Take a spoon with a long handle, for example a silicon or wooden spoon like you would use for cooking. Put some peanut butter or spray cheese on it. Now you can hold down the spoon next to you and let your dog enjoy his reward without needing to bend down!
This can not only be used as a reinforcement in training – but also actually to calm down an anxious or reactive dog (reactivity unfortunately can be pretty common in Corgis).
Playing ball is not just a game – it is actually a really great way to reward your dog, too. Toy rewards can carry a lot of “value” – meaning that for the dog, a toy reward is much more fun and reinforcing than food at times. Especially dogs that were bred to be working dogs (such as Corgis) really enjoy chasing after the motion and will try very hard to earn a thrown ball.
So – instead of using treats every time your dog does something right, try using the thrown ball. Because the toy drive can be so intense, it might well be that you are able to get many more repetitions out of your dog, and that he will try much harder to earn his ball than when you are “only” using treats.
You should also try to build a little routine – at first, ask your dog for one behavior such as sitting, then throw the ball. Next, ask him for two behaviors in a row before you throw the ball. Then three, four etc. This will increase your dog’s attention span and work ethic.
Steffi Trott, founder of SpiritDog Training, is a dog trainer in Albuquerque, NM and offers local training classes, online classes and online consultation. Ask her questions in the comments below.