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  • Behavior Problems? We have answers.Behavior Problems? We have answers.

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“Sit,” “stay,” “down,” “come” – these are all the usual commands we were familiar with before we brought our dog Sally home. Thankfully, Sally was familiar with them too, and it made the transition easier for all of us. But then, when we turned on the Xbox that first night we realized we were going to have to help her get used to us playing video games.

There we were, sitting on the edge of our seats and looking like we were waiting for something. To a dog who didn’t know any better, well, it looked like we were waiting for her to give us some love! Have you ever tried having a heart-to-heart with a dog about the cost of video game controllers?

The cool thing about training a dog is that you can make a command out of any word or phrase you want, as long as you follow basic dog training ideas and reward, reward, reward. If you’re a gamer and have had issues playing video games with your pup in the room, start teaching them these three commands (or similar commands – whatever works for you) and you’ll be back to nailing those critical head-shots in no time.

1.  "Controller

My husband used this as a joke once when Sally came up to him for some love just as we were getting ready to start a game, and it stuck. To teach her this command we used a gesture and command combination. We would move the controller towards her and simply say “controller.” We didn’t even have to use treats for this one – we just praised her every time she moved away from the area when we used the command. Now she knows that “controller” means “you don’t have to go to your bed, but you can’t stay here.”  I love this one because now that she knows it well, we can give her with love and affection until the very last moment before the game starts. We get our doggy love and our video games too!

2.  "Bed"

Gaming sometimes involves some sort of yelling. If it’s celebratory yelling, it stands to reason that your dog’s going to get excited and happy right along with you. That’s all fun and games until you find yourself with 60 pounds of dog in your lap right in the middle of a game. The way we handled this was to use the “bed” command. “Bed” means “go to your bed,” and she already knew this command, so it was easy for her to figure it out. Fast forward to more than six months later, and we’re lucky if she cracks an eye open to assess the situation before going back to sleep.

3.  "It's Okay"

When you’ve just lost your third one-on-one confrontation with the same player in a row, your tone might get a little…angry. Dogs who don’t know better may think that they’re in trouble. It’s absolutely vital for you to make sure that your dog knows that you’re not mad at them. Giving treats, praise, and reassuring them in comforting tones will usually do the trick. Understand that they may never get comfortable with the noise, and if they don’t, that means you’ll need to tone it down. Dogs are pretty versatile creatures who can adapt happily to a wide variety of lifestyles. Just remember that they need guidance in order to know how you want them to handle different situations.  They can’t read minds, and they can’t jump on the computer and download “What Humans Wish Their Dogs Knew” to their Kindle. Work on those commands patiently and make sure you give them lots of quality time between games!

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