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Are you a lover of the beautiful game? Are you also a dog lover? What if there was a way to combine the two? Well now you can, as in this guide you’ll learn how to teach your four legged friend how to play soccer. Not only is soccer great exercise, it’s also great fun, making healthy living for you and your pooch far more fun and games than it ever has been. This is extremely important when well over half of the population of pets in the united states are overweight, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’ll also be better for your waistline.
Another perk is, if you find walking your pooch boring, adding in a soccer ball is sure to encourage you to take him out more, as it’ll give you a chance to practice your shots for the next time you have a game with friends.
Although a fun ability to learn, this trick is also important for the health reasons stated above. It’s also likely to bond you and your pooch closer, as not only will you be getting fit but you’ll be having fun. This trick will be extra rewarding to a pooch that’s ball-obsessed. However, this trick could be quite difficult to learn and will usually take months, especially if your dog doesn’t show any interest--it’s worth persisting for a while. However, you need to bear in mind that every dog is an individual and maybe it’s not the right sport for them if they’re taking a very long time to pick it up. This trick should be taught to fully grown pooches, as it’s quite intense exercise, you don’t want to put too much strain on growing joints.
Get an appropriately sized ball for your dog. Although medium to larger breeds are likely suited to your standard soccer ball, smaller breeds will struggle to push a large ball and so a smaller one should be purchased. Toy breeds may not be suited to this trick, as they may be too little.
Grab high-value treats, such as boiled chicken, cheese or hot dogs and purchase a clicker either online or at a pet store. Most importantly, stay determined and focused. This is a difficult trick for your pooch to master and requires a high level of understanding, therefore keep training sessions short and don’t give up if it takes your pooch a while. After all, being a professional footballer takes a lot of skill, determination, discipline, and training.
The Play With Him Method
Grab your clicker
Clickers are a good method of letting your dog knows he’s got the right behavior for this trick.
Get the right pitch
If you’re playing outside, make sure the grass is short so the ball rolls freely.
Roll the ball to him
While sitting down, gently roll the ball to your dog. If he reaches out a paw or shows interest in the ball, click and treat.
Roll on repeat
Repeat this until your pooch not only touches the ball with a paw, but rolls it back towards you.
Take a stand
Now roll the ball to your pooch standing up. Now they’ve got the hang of rolling the ball, move the treat away from the ball, so that they understand after rolling the ball to get the next treat they have to come away from the ball and back to it, just like in soccer.
The Ball Enthusiast Method
Get him ball-crazy
From a young age as a pup, get your dog a toy ball, so that it becomes one of his favorite toys.
When he' s fully grown
It’s time to introduce him to a full sized soccer ball, if he's a large enough dog. Smaller dogs will need smaller balls. They need to be fully grown so that their musculoskeletal system can take the exercise.
Check he's ball-motivated
If he's ball-mad, he’ll have been interested in the ball from a pup, and when you show him the soccer ball their eyes and ears will perk up. Give a click and treat if he shows interest. If he doesn’t, soccer might not be the sport for him.
Let him bring it to you
After a while and a good few sessions of playing with the ball, your pooch should bring the ball to you.
Gently kick it to him
Once he's brought the ball to you, it’s a sure sign that he wants to play. Now gently kick the ball to him and he should chase after it and roll it back to you. Remember to click and treat every time he interacts positively with the ball.
The Gradual Method
Understand that teaching your pooch to play soccer will be the culmination of lots of small steps.
Learn to use a clicker
Purchase a clicker for your pooch and teach him how the clicker works with more basic tricks before moving onto soccer.
Get the ball
Click and treat every time your pooch shows interest in the soccer ball. You’ll need to click at the exact time he shows interest and repeat this, so that he knows what behavior he is being rewarded for.
Paw to ball
Now to get his click and treat, he’ll need to touch the ball with his paw.
Moving the ball
Next, make sure he only gets a click and a treat when he moves the ball with his paw.
Written by Catherine Lee-Smith
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 11/10/2017, edited: 01/08/2021