About foundation skills / Socialize your dog / Encourage your puppy's play drive / Early dog obedience training / Understand dog psychology
Introduce the three D's / Dog handling skills

Encourage your puppy's play drive

You will get the most from your dog if you make work fun by reinforcing your Karelian's natural energy and enthusiasm. An energetic handler with an enthusiastic voice and simple toys can have many hours of pleasure with their Karelian of any age. To our dogs, "work" is "play." Playing "get the toy" with our dogs is not only a lot of fun, it helps prepare the dogs for later search work.

Toys as rewards

By carefully observing how your dog reacts to certain toys (if you choose, as we have done, not to reward with food) or other treats, you can find something that motivates your dog's level of excitement.

That toy can then be reserved as a reward after successfully completing a complex task, such as finding a victim at the end of a run away exercise in preparation for K9 search and rescue training.

Toys just for fun

If your dog needs a toy for entertainment, we have two favorites: real animal antlers and two- to three-inch long cuts of marrow bones (from the grocery store), both of which have the added benefit of cleaning the dog's teeth as they chew.

Below, sometimes a toy is just a toy.

To maximize your working relationship with your Karelian, make your Karelian your partner in your day's activities, even when there is not specific plan for play. If she feels an integral part of family life, she will have enthusiasm for being a part of everything you do together.

Take her everywhere you go, praise her for everything she finds, show interest in what she wants to show you.

If she rolls on the ground, praise her for it (even if she is going to get dirty or smelly). In the field, this is a sign that she has found something dead. Ask her, "Whatcha got?" Let her know that you see her and are on your way to see what she found for you. Give her big praise for anything she finds. That silly looking stick she found may have a scent on it that you, as a mere human, cannot detect, and you want to encourage her play!

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San Diego, California