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The boys are going to toss the pigskin around at the park and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to see Dave make a fool out of himself with his terrible throwing arm. However, the dog still needs some exercise today. You can’t just tie them to the fence while you play, they're bordering on the overweight side as it is, and you need to help them burn some calories.
If you could teach them to play football, you’d have an effective way to help them exercise and blow off steam. But even better than that, you’d get to Snapchat Dave getting outdone by your canine. Succeed with this training and your dog will soon be tearing around the field, keeping them slim and fit. It’s also a fantastic way to help them socialize with people and give them a great day out.
Just 10 minutes a day and a positive attitude will get you on the right track. Need a little help with your dog training adventure? Book an in-home or digital dog training session through the Wag! app.
One of the best things about this training is that it’s fun and easy to teach. Most dogs will love chasing a ball around and being involved with you and your friends or family. The key is to incentivize them to chase and run with the ball. That will be done with a rigorous reward system and plenty of enthusiasm. Once they get the hang of it, there will be no stopping them from running around everyone and putting your buddies to shame.
If they're just a puppy, they should be full of energy and always up for playing. Training could take just a few days. If they're older and their sporting days are behind them, then they may need a week or two before they get into the swing of it. Get the training right and you’ll have an effective way to exercise your dog, an entertaining game to play with them, and an amusing spectacle for friends and family.
Before you put your cleats on, you’ll need a few things. Treats or their favorite food will play a vital role in this training, so stock up. Try to keep the treats healthy if you plan on using them a lot. You’ll also need space and plenty of it. A park or a large yard should suffice.
Now, get your hands on a few footballs of different textures, as you may find they accidentally sink their teeth into a couple to start with. Plus, dogs of different sizes may not be able to actually get their mouth around the football, so start with different sizes and kinds of balls to help them learn. You may also be able to find dog footballs that have tags on them to make it easier for dogs to grab them. Always supervise your dogster with a football, especially if they're chewers!
Also, be sure to be patient and always go at your dog's pace. Keeping the training fun and like a game the entire time will encourage even the shyest of pups to investigate that ball.
Once you have all that, you’re good to go!
The Get Familiar Method
Introduce your pup to the ball
Before you head out onto the field, you need to get them familiar with their new toy. Leave it around the house and let them sniff it out at their own pace. Try playing with it in the evenings. Once it smells like them and they're used to seeing it, they will become comfortable and confident around it.
Put the ball into play
Whether inside or outside, start messing around with them and the ball. Encourage them to chase you by calling their name and pointing at the ball while speaking in an animated voice.
Lure them over with a treat
Outside, take a treat to the ground and hold it around the football. As soon as your dog touches or grabs the ball, give them the treat and lots of praise. It’s important they realize every time they touch or grab the ball, they will get a reward. Practice this for 10 minutes a day for the next couple of days, eventually just rewarding for grabbing the ball.
Increase the number of grabs
Once they realize they need to grab the ball to get the treat, you can make it harder. This time encourage them to run with the ball a little before they get the treat. Make sure you keep it fun! If it’s a game, they'll be more eager to keep playing. Keep practicing!
Introduce them to the team
Once you think your dog has got the hang of it, encourage them to play around with friends or family. Keep it fun, make sure they still get the ball and keep rewarding them. When they're comfortable tearing around with friends too, you can gradually stop giving them treats.
The Verbal Cue Method
Get ready to rumble
Take them to the designated spot. Make sure you have treats and a football and that you won’t be disturbed.
Toss the ball to them
Don’t send it too fast, as you don’t want to terrify them. Now's not the time to perfect your spiral. Make sure it’s going to gently hit them if they don’t move.
At the same time as you pass it, issue a ‘receive’ command. You can use any word you like. This will be the signal to them in the future that you want them to grab the ball. Make sure you give the command in an upbeat and playful voice.
As soon as the ball touches them, praise them and run over to give them a treat. You need to really show them that contact with the ball was the action that got them the treat. Practice this consistently for a few days and they will soon start to associate the command with getting the ball.
Make it harder
After several days, your dog should get the hang of it. At this point, instead of tossing it to them, simply issue the command when the ball is still and they should come running to get it. If they don't, point to it and encourage them to run to it. Each time they do, give them a treat and reward. Once they get the hang of that you can stop giving them treats. At this point, you’ll have a dog who plays football whenever you command them to.
The Kick & Reward Method
To the field
Take them out to a large outside space where they won’t be distracted. Have a football at your feet and a pocketful of treats in tow. You’re going to use food to bring out the pro in them.
Play around with the ball
To start with, play gently with the ball at your feet. As you do this, call them over and encourage them to play with it too. You can kick and toss it around and gently toward them.
As soon as they touch the ball, quickly give them a treat and verbal praise. It’s important they get the treat within a few seconds of touching the ball, otherwise, they won’t associate the action with the reward. Continue playing like this, rewarding them every time they touch it. As they get better, encourage them to pick up the ball, run with it, and even kick it.
After a few days of treats for touching the ball, you’ll find they will charge for that ball and will want to constantly be touching it. At this point, introduce distractions like other people. Toss the ball to each other, but make sure you play so your dog is able to get to it. If they never get to touch it, they’ll quickly give up playing.
Cut down on rewards
Once they've got the hang of playing with you and your friends, you can slowly stop giving them treats each time they grab it. By this point, simply running around with the ball will be stimulating enough that food is no longer needed.
By Wag! Staff
Published: 10/23/2017, edited: 01/25/2023