Training is a bit like growing plants.
I recently became a member of a local business networking group and we were tasked with bringing a prop to represent our business and talk about it. I began racking my brains thinking what could be interesting, different or simple enough to explain in just one minute. The obvious things would be a lead, treat pouch, Kong or toy but I thought they seemed a bit boring, especially to the non-dog owners present. Then one of my clients sent a video of their dog practising training using flowerpots in the garden and there was my brain wave!
We can (and do) use flowerpots in a variety of different ways to practise or reinforce training skills. I like to make sure training is accessible, owners don’t need to buy all the fancy equipment and can be encouraged to use the everyday items you may find lying around a home.
To start with, here’s my little analogy
Training dogs is a bit like growing flowers….. you need a nice environment for the dog to learn (like plants need soil), puppies/dogs come in different sizes and from a variety of backgrounds (just like seeds that come in different shapes/sizes and qualities)
Owners provide food, shelter, love and affection to meet basic needs, just like our seed needs water and sunlight to grow.
Growing a plant from seed to flowering can take weeks, months or years depending on the variety, just like some dogs need more training and support than others, but the main ingredients are time, patience and understanding.
So, what activities can we use flower pots for with our dogs to help their training?
Scent detection is a great way to mentally exercise your dog, in fact 10minutes of active sniffing equates to around an hour of physical exercise. In our UK Sniffer Dog course
s, we teach the dogs to search for an certain odour and find it in a variety of different situations and set ups. Flower pots are great for laying out in patterns with the odour hidden in just one pot, depending on the dog’s level of ability we can use just 2, or maybe 20 flower pots!
If you’re dog is always getting their lead tied up around lamp posts or trees, teaching them to go ‘round’ an object can be really handy. We often begin with something small like a flowerpot or a cone and can progress on to tyres or lamp posts increasing the distance between them and the object.
Up-turned flower pots can provide a great surface for dogs to step onto, either with 2 feet, 4 feet or one paw per pot! It’s great for teaching body confidence, body awareness and increasing the relationship with your dog. If this sounds like fun, take a look at our Parkour
courses or Hoop, Skip & Jump
A line of flower pots can create a fun opportunity for dogs to learn to weave between them as their owner walks alongside. If pulling on the lead
is a problem, we can weave through them with our dog to practise changing directions and improve focus when on-lead!
Target training is great fun and can help dogs to gain confidence in working independently and leaving their handlers side. A piece of food can be placed on an up-turned flower pot with the dogs released to go and get it with either a target or directional cue.
Some dogs need to wear a muzzle, not because they are aggressive, maybe it’s because they eat things they shouldn’t on walks or they aren’t keen on visiting the vet or groomers.
Gaining confidence in putting their nose into a variety of objects such as cups, cones or smaller flower pots can help them to feel more comfortable and make better progress with muzzle training.
So, there you have it, six ways we can include flower pots in our training sessions to make things a little more fun and interesting. Head out into the garden and get creative with your flower pots, I’d love to see photos of what you get up to!