How to Train Your Dog to Play Football

Medium
3-14 Days
Fun

Introduction

The boys are going for a kick 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 two left feet. Only thing is, the dog still needs walking today. You can’t just tie him to the fence while you play, he’s bordering on the overweight side as it is, he needs to burn some calories. 

If you could teach him to play football you’d have an effective way to help him 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 him slim and fit. It’s also a fantastic way to help him socialize with people and give him a great day out.

Defining Tasks

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. The key is to incentivize him to chase and run with the ball. That will be done with a rigorous reward system and with plenty of enthusiasm. Once he gets the hang of it, they’ll be no stopping him from running around everyone and putting your buddies to shame.

If he’s just a puppy he should be full of energy and always up for playing. Training could take just a few days. If he’s older and his sporting days are behind him, then he may need a week or two before he gets 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 him, and an amusing spectacle for friends and family.

Getting Started

Before you put your cleats on, you’ll need a few things. Treats or his favorite food will play a vital role in this training, so stock up. You’ll also need space and plenty of it. A park or a large yard should suffice. Also get your hands on a few balls, you may find he accidentally sinks his teeth into a couple to start with.

Once you have all that, you just need 10 minutes a day to train and a positive attitude and you’re good to go!

The Kick & Reward Method

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Step
1
To the field
Take him out to a large outside space where he 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 him.
Step
2
Play around with the ball
To start with, play gently with the ball at your feet. As you do this, call him over and encourage him to play with it too. You can kick and toss it around and gently towards him.
Step
3
Treats
As soon as he touches the ball, quickly give him a treat and verbal praise. It’s important he gets the treat within a few seconds of touching the ball, otherwise he won’t associate the action with the reward. Continue playing like this, rewarding him every time he touches it. As he gets better, encourage him to pick up the ball, run with it, and even kick it.
Step
4
Introduce friends
After a few days of treats for touching the ball, you’ll find he will charge for that ball and will want to constantly be touching it. At this point, introduce distractions like other people. Kick and toss the ball to each other, but make sure you play so he’s able to get to it. If he never touches it he’ll quickly give up playing.
Step
5
Cut down on rewards
Once he’s got the hang of playing with you and friends, you can slowly stop giving him treats each time he kicks it. By this point, simply running around with the ball will be stimulating enough that food is no longer needed.
Recommend training method?

The Verbal Cue Method

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Step
1
Put your cleats on
Take him to the designated spot. Make sure you have treats and a football and that you won’t be disturbed.
Step
2
Kick the ball to him
Don’t send it too fast, you don’t want to terrify him. Make sure it’s going to gently hit him if he doesn’t move.
Step
3
‘Shoot’
At the same time as you pass it, issue a ‘shoot’ command. You can use any word you like. This will be the signal to him in future that you want him to kick the ball. Make sure you give the command in an upbeat and playful voice.
Step
4
Reward
As soon as the ball touches him, praise him and run over to give him a treat. You need to really show him that contact with the ball was the action that got him the treat. Practice this consistently for a few days and he will soon start to associate the command with kicking the ball.
Step
5
Make it harder
After several days he’ll get the hang of it. At this point, instead of kicking it to him, simply issue the command when the ball is still and he should come running to kick it. If he doesn’t, point to it and encourage him to run to it. Each time he does, give him a treat and reward. Once he gets the hang of that you can stop giving him treats. At this point you’ll have a dog who plays football whenever you command him to.
Recommend training method?

The Get Familiar Method

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Step
1
Leave the ball in his bed
Before you head out onto the field, you need to get him familiar with his new toy. Leave it around his bed and play with it in the evenings. Once it smells like him and he’s used to seeing it, he will become comfortable and confident around it.
Step
2
Head outside
Start messing around with him and the ball. Encourage him to chase you by calling his name and point at the ball while speaking in an animated voice.
Step
3
Lure him over with a treat
If needs be, take a treat to the ground and hold it around the football. As soon as he picks up the ball, give him the treat and lots of praise. It’s important he realizes every time he grabs the ball he will get a reward. Practice this for 10 minutes a day for the next couple of days.
Step
4
Increase the number of grabs before a treat
Once he realizes he needs to touch the ball to get the treat you can make it harder. This time encourage him to kick the ball two or three times before he gets the treat. Make sure you keep it fun, if it’s a game he’ll be more eager to keep playing. Practice this each day, but make it harder so he runs with the ball before he gets a treat.
Step
5
Introduce him to the team
Once you think he’s got the hang of it, encourage him to play around with friends. Keep it fun, make sure he still gets the ball and keep rewarding him. When he’s comfortable tearing around with friends too, you can gradually stop giving him treats.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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