Can a dog play football? VisioCare myBuddy’s top tips to train your buddy to play!

5 tips to train your dog to be the next Ronaldo!

Football, the UK’s national game that we all, at some point, must get involved with. Whether we like it or not! Did you know you can train and coach your dog to play with you too? It’s true. But just like us, they need time and patience and before long your dog could be playing better than you do!

Read on as we provide you with the top 5 tips to train your dog to be the next Ronaldo!

Charge the Clicker: A term used when a dog hears a clicker and knows it is reward time. Grab yourself a cost-effective clicker if you don’t have one, and follow the PDSA guide to Clicker Training Your Dog HERE. The simplest step is to click whilst giving a treat and repeating a good few times, to allow your dog to understand.

Target the clicker: Linking the clicker to your hand is the next stage. Get your dog to sniff your hand and when they do, sound the clicker. Repeat several times in a variety of locations, with the focus on outdoor space if specifically for footie training! Make sure you click at EVERY point your dog sniffs you hand.

The ball becomes the target: Put their favourite treat in their food bowl and put the football on top. Use your typical trigger word, such as “Go on then” – whatever you use after a “Wait” command. Allow them to find the treat by moving the ball, so that they are interested in the treat. Click when the action of eating the treat is performed. Repeat. Keep the step controlled and do not let them run off and play with the ball.

Identify the ball: This step is to first reward your fluffy friend for touching the ball. Whether with nose or paw, reward/click when they touch the ball – not during play. Repeat this step at various times, maintaining the reward. The next phase is moving the ball. Click/reward your dog for even the slightest movement of the ball, with nose or paw. Extend the time and length of movement gradually to associate ‘dribbling the ball’ with rewards/clicks. Encourage your dog to move the ball further and further to train fully,

Nose or paw to goal: After spending all this time rewarding/clicking for small movements, now is the time to begin longer control by the dog, and we need to set a goal. Set up the goal nearby, put the ball slightly in front of it. The dog’s instinct – to get to reward – is now to move the ball, but we want to encourage reward/clicks when scoring. Start off by rewarding for small movements towards the goal, extending to the ball landing in goal = reward.

Repeat, repeat, repeat: Keep repeating the reward process and make sure the dog is enjoying their time with you. In time, they will be astute at dribbling and scoring, too.

Your dog loves play, they enjoy time with you and is getting rewarded to show what a good dog they are. Training a dog gives them a sense of purpose but training them to enjoy play enhances their lives and will bring you and your pooch even closer than ever.