The Mopey-Dopey Dog
It can be hard for us to believe that sometimes our dogs don’t want to do the activities that we think are fun. When not interested, the dog may sniff the ground, lie down, turn and look the other way, or simply yawn. She may do what you want her to do but there is no enthusiasm or excitement in her manner.
There are many reasons why a dog may be a Mopey-Dopey. If your dog is normally perky, it may be because she is either sick, or has had a previously bad experience on an obstacle and lacks confidence. You may have to go back to the basics (one obstacle at a time) to re-motivate your dog. Most the time, however, a Mopey-Dopey dog is simply bored or lazy. Luckily, there is a solution. The key to revving up your dog is to become the most exciting thing in her world. You need to find what “pushes her buttons” and makes her happy. In some cases, this may be a really delicious treat, such as cheese or hot dogs that she doesn’t get on a regular basis. It can also be a toy that she really loves to play with. It can even be a game, like tug, that she plays with you. The key is that it is something that she enjoys but she only gets that toy or treats from you.
You may have to try a number of different toys to find what “turns her on”. Does she like to retrieve? Does she like to tug? Does she like to squeak a toy? Does she like chew toys such as bones or rope toys? You will need to try a variety of toys until you find the one that puts the sparkle in her eye. Once you identify this toy, play with her with it for just a few minutes and then put it away. Do not let her have unlimited access to it. It helps if you can put the toy out of her reach but someplace where she can see it. This helps to build desire for the object. For the first few days, take the toy out of its special place and play with your dog. Act like it is a really big deal when you are getting out the toy. Make your voice high-pitched and happy and your dog will really get excited. You need to play with your dog with the toy. Don’t just let her have it. Toss it, tug it, squeak it, whatever you need to do to play with your dog. After a few minutes, while the dog still wants to play, put the toy back in its special place. Then take a few minutes to pet your dog and praise her.
After you have built the excitement for playing with the toy, you can then use the toy to reward your dog’s behavior. You can go out to your yard and practice your jumps or your obedience lesson and use the toy as a reward for the correct behavior. Try not to scold the dog or do anything to lose her enthusiasm. If she does a behavior that is incorrect, just ignore it and use the toy to reinforce the behavior you want.
Once you have figured out how to excite your dogs, you will still need to find other ways to keep her enthusiasm at a high level. You will need to find additional toys or treats or games that pique her interest. You will need many “tools” to keep her from becoming mopey-dopey again. But once you have revved her up the first time, it will be easier to keep doing it.
Also consider making your training lessons shorter, so as not to wear out your dog’s enthusiasm by dragging the lessons too far past her attention span. Always end on a good note!
To read more problem dog help tips, go here.
~Thank you to Amy Sugars