Our Associations & Certifications

Association of Pet Dog Trainers - Dog Training Professionals


Member of the International
Association of Assistance Dog Partners

How To Play Structured Games

There are very few trainers that teach using games. There are rules to this type of training that you should be aware of.

1.Do not look for perfection, you are playing a game, eventually your dog and you will gain proficiency, but for now, just play the game as instructed.

2.Do not play for more than five minutes at a time. You can do three or four sessions of five minutes each in any one day, but no more than five minutes per session. This way of training is exhausting, demanding and powerful. Five minutes is all you need.

3.Play the games in order. Do not skip around. Each game builds on the ones before it. If you skip around not only will your dog not learn the lesson, but she will get confused and you will get frustrated.

4.Do not over think the instructions. If you wonder if you should put your dog on a leash, read the instructions. I will tell you when the leash is needed and when it’s not.

5.This is not obedience, we are teaching behavior not how to sit when told. You should be building self-control in your dog because you will not always be there when she might be tempted to counter surf or dig in the closet for your shoes.

6.Even in your five minute sessions, take breaks to play with your dog, just play. A little tug after your dog does a game fantastically goes a long way to building your dog’s self-confidence.

7.Play only one game per day.

8.When a game calls for you to push your dog back so you can run away, you need to watch your dog’s reaction to being pushed. Start with barely pushing your dog a quarter of an inch and watch the response. If your dog responds well, try a little harder. Shy dogs are not good with the push, so you may want to just run with no push. For dogs that get too excited, keep the push very light or delete the pushing.

9.Do not correct your dog for what you consider bad behavior or the wrong choice. Dogs do what gets them rewards and what avoids pain and discomfort. If in the teaching process, before your dog fully understands the game, you correct him for a wrong choice, what are you teaching him? You are teaching him to avoid this game.