How to Train a Puppy to Play Connect the Dots

Hard
1-6 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Cooper is a larger than life dog. He's sociable and full of energy. As soon as someone walks through the threshold of his home, your puppy is desperate to investigate. He sniffs around, then stands back and eyes the person up. You can almost see his brain working. You love this about him. You were expecting a cute, little ball of fur. Not only did you get that, but you also got an intuitive, switched-on canine companion. In fact, you’re swiftly realising you’ll need to mentally stimulate your puppy.

Training your puppy to play 'connect the dots' is a great way to do just that. You’ll take all that energy and put it to good use. One benefit of which is that he'll continue to grow and be exercised both psychically and mentally. It also makes for a great way to tire your puppy out, ensuring you get your tranquil evenings back.

Defining Tasks

Training a puppy to play connect the dots isn’t the most straightforward of tasks. However, if your puppy is clever then it may be easier than you realize. Your first job is to incentivize him to get involved. To do that, you’ll probably want to use treats or a favorite toy. You’ll then need to turn 'connect the dots' into a fun game where the end goal is that reward.

If Cooper is highly intelligent and keen to learn, then you could see results in just a week or so. But if your puppy is stubborn and more interested in rolling around in puddles, then it could take a little while longer. You may then want to set aside several weeks for training. Don’t give up on training and you’ll soon have a fantastic way to keep Cooper busy. It will also fascinate others to watch him at work. Lastly, playing 'connect the dots' with your puppy will simply make for great bonding time.

Getting Started

Before you can start training, you’ll need to make sure you have a few things. A yard or a large room will be needed. You’ll then need an array of treats or toys. These are going to be the incentive behind each dot. You’ll then need clear markers. You can use small cones or anything with different colors or shapes and smells.

This sort of training will be fairly challenging for your puppy so you’ll need to keep sessions to no longer than 10 minutes, especially to begin with. But do try and set aside that much time each day. 

Once you’ve got all that, just bring patience and a proactive attitude, then work can begin!

The Follow the Food Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Setting up
In a room or out in the yard, set up your markers. Use different colors or shapes for each marker and make sure there is at least several yards between each one. Then hide a treat or a toy underneath each one. The trick is to make sure there is enough distance between them so your puppy doesn’t get confused.
Step
2
Starting line
Now secure Cooper to a leash and take him to the first marker/dot. Issue a verbal cue for the first dot, such as ‘one’. Give it in an up-beat voice and give it just as you get to the marker. Then ensure that he quickly finds the treat.
Step
3
‘Two’
Once you’ve given him some verbal praise, you can then head to the second dot. But this time give a ‘two’ instruction just as he gets there. Again, ensure that he gets the treat and some verbal praise when he gets there.
Step
4
Start again
Now you need to go back to the first line and start again. Stick to just a couple of dots the first couple of days, as you want to get him familiar with the commands for each dot. Then the next time you can go out, go to the third dot, using a new command. The trick is to gradually increase the number of dots he can connect.
Step
5
Mix it up
Keep practicing over many days until he understands all the dots and respective commands. You can then start getting him to connect the dots in different patterns by using the verbal cues. Once he gets really good, you can then slowly phase out the treats too.
Recommend training method?

The Fetch Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start small
The first thing to do is to get your puppy used to playing fetch. Throw a ball in the yard and encourage him to return to you by holding up a tasty treat. Then when he returns, give him the treat and some praise. Practice this until fetch is his new favorite game.
Step
2
Setting up
Now head out into the yard and lay down some markers as dots. Then have one friend or family member stand at each dot. Ensure they each have a treat or another reward. Start with just a few dots to begin with.
Step
3
Throw
Now throw the ball from the first dot to the person on the second dot. Make sure the person on the second dot is holding up a treat or another reward so Cooper stays at their feet. When they release the ball you can then give him a tasty reward. Now throw the ball from the second dot to the third dot and repeat the same steps.
Step
4
Increase the dots
Over the next few days, increase the number of dots you use. Ensure there is a person waiting with a treat each time. Soon enough your puppy will be in the habit of running and connecting each dot.
Step
5
Change the rewards
Once he is familiar with the game, stop giving him a reward at each point. This time, run alongside Cooper as you go and point at each dot so he stops there before moving onto the next one. Then simply give a reward at the end. Continue to practice this and before you know it Cooper will actively run from dot to dot all on his own.
Recommend training method?

The Click and Connect Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Clicker use
A clicker is a brilliant way to signal to your dog when he's done something correctly. Therefore, it can speed up the training process by letting him know when he's on the right track. So start clicking whenever he performs a behavior correctly.
Step
2
Setting the scene
Now in a large room or yard, lay out some dots/markers. Use brightly coloured objects that either have a different shape or smell, so your puppy can distinguish between each one. Place a treat under each one.
Step
3
Walk alongside
Now walk steadily from the first dot to the second. Look at Cooper and whisper to keep him following you. If he gets distracted too easily, you may want to consider keeping him on a leash to begin with.
Step
4
Click and reward
Once you and your puppy get to the second dot, click to let him know that he did something right, even if he doesn’t know what yet. Then let him have the treat. Now you can walk to the next dot and click again and give him a treat.
Step
5
Stand back
By now he'll know he needs to connect each dot to hear that click and get a reward. So simply point to the first dot and whisper and he'll quickly start connecting the dots on his own. Make sure you click to let him know that he's gone in the correct order. Not clicking if he gets it wrong will let him know that he needs to go back and try again. Simply practice regularly and be ready with treats until he masters the pattern and can connect the dots like a doggy pro.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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