Every Labrador should have a magic word.
“What kind of trickery is this?” you say.
We don’t need magic in dog training do we?
Just an effective and consistent training strategy
Of course you are right, but a ‘magic word’ is still a very useful thing.
And here’s how you can use it:
What is the magic word used for?
We can use a magic word to interrupt a dog when it is doing something we don’t want it to do.
The magic word brings your dog dashing to your side, so it can also be used as an emergency recall
How do we create our magic word?
To generate your magic word you will need some amazing treats.
The messier and tastier the better.
Once or twice each day, for several days, you will say your magic word.
And give your dog one of these fantastic prizes.
You won’t ask the dog to do anything in return. The food is totally unconditional. All you want is for him to associate this word with an astounding experience.
The first few times you give your dog the treat, go and find him. Say your word and feed him straight away.
You don’t want any delay at all in getting the food into his mouth immediately after he hears the word.
When he has heard the magic word a few times, you can start to say the word when he is a few feet away from you.
After the first few days, and once your dog is ‘on board’ with the deliciousness of this brilliant word, you can use your word less often.
Twice a week should keep it special and ensure he does not forget it.
Choosing a word
Your word should be upbeat, cheerful and inspiring. Words like ‘hooray’, ‘awesome’, ‘eureka’, that type of thing. Choose one and stick to it.
The word is a little celebration of a splendid treat. And it should sound that way.
It means “something awesome and utterly unmissable is about to happen”
Using the word
Be careful. This is not a command. Don’t use it to spoil his fun.
Don’t use your magic word to recall your dog, stop him weeing on your geraniums, or to stop him climbing on your sofa on a regular basis.
Each time you use the word to bring your dog away from something he wanted for himself you deplete a little of its power.
You make it just that little bit less magical.
So do not use your word on a regular basis, or to repeatedly try and trigger particular behaviours
Save your magic word for that awful time when your dog slips his lead and is about to run into the road.
Save it for that walk on the beach when he finds a dead seagull and is about to eat it.
Save it for the day he rolls in fox poo and is about to embrace your mother-in-law, or climb on her white sofa.
Save it for special and unusual occasions. Call-out your magic word and feel the relief as your dog spins around and dashes towards you.
After using your magic word
When you have used your word, you need to ‘re-charge it’
You need to make it really special again.
Don’t use the word to interrupt your dog in something he enjoys for some time.
And for the next few days, make sure you just say the word several times, together with an amazing treat, no strings attached.
How about you?
Do you have a magic word for your dog? Let us know in the comments box below
More help and information
If you enjoy Pippa’s articles, you will love her new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.