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Train Your Canine to Enjoy Being a Lapdog

October 1, 2010

The most recent Dear Inquisitive Canine dog behavior advice question we had revolved around a couple wanting to get their dog Ace to enjoy being a lapdog. Seems that this inquisitive canine would climb into their lap once in awhile, but more so “on his own terms.”

Being responsible and respectful dog guardians, they understood that it’s normal for animals to want different things. But, they were also wondering what they could do to teach their dog Ace to enjoy being cuddled and sitting in their laps more often, especially the husband since he was the one who wanted to have the stronger bond with Ace to begin with.

For this readers complete question and a few dog training tips to teach dogs to want to be cuddled by humans, please see our Dear Inquisitive Canine column on Noozhawk. We also wanted to add a few more dog training tips here in this post for you to use and enjoy together with your pooch!

  • Be the pick-up artist: This exercise will teach Ace to associate being picked up with lots of good things: Every time you pick him up, follow it with a small piece of high value food. It’s that simple. But, start slowly so Ace can learn to trust being held five feet and more above ground. Again, you can start with everyone sitting on the floor, this way Ace might feel more safe and secure. Once he understands the game, and gets more comfortable, move to the chair/couch, and finally to a standing position. Depending upon how tall each of you are, you might want to start with the more petite person. You’ll also want to consider your “picking up technique.” Think “gentle hands”, while avoiding abrupt grabbing movements when picking Ace up. I can’t be sure, but I doubt our domestic dogs enjoy playing the “airplane” game.
  • Make mealtime fun: Start handing feeding Ace his meals. Even if you’re using higher value foods for training, you’ll most likely be feeding him some of his regular dog food. Instead of feeding him out of a bowl or food toy, take this time to hand feed Ace while he’s in your lap, or when you pick him up. Just make sure the action (behavior such as jumping into your lap or being picked up) comes before giving him the piece of food.
  • As for the other motivators, have your husband be the one to spend extra quality time with Ace, taking him on outings and playing fun games together. If your husband enjoy sports, taking Ace to an agility class or joining a Flyball team can be quite entertaining, for everyone! These “doggy dates” will help enhance the bond the boys share.

With a little meal planning and creative social scheduling, this type of classical conditioning should teach Ace to want to be the king of the lap dogs! The next thing you know he’ll want to be carried everywhere, and won’t want to rest or cuddle anywhere else!

Have a dog behavior question? Please feel free to email us directly with your dog behavior and training question. Poncho and I would be happy to help set you and your dog up for success!


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