By Big Heart Pet Brands
Photograph courtesy of Big Heart Pet Brands
Let's face it: When your holiday tree is decorated and has a pile of gifts under it, there's only one thing on your mind — opening those fabulous presents to see what's inside. Everyone loves getting gifts, including your dog.
Just because your dog doesn't have opposable thumbs doesn't mean he should miss out on the fun of ripping into those gifts to discover the treasures hidden under the colorful, festive wrap. In fact, you can train your pooch to open up presents with the rest of the family. Follow these steps to have your pup opening presents just in time for the holidays.
Step One: Break Out the Treats
There's no better way to get your buddy's attention than with his favorite treats, like Pup-Peroni® Jerky Bites Tender Pork Recipe. These treats are sure to tempt his taste buds and, more importantly, his sense of smell. The meaty aroma alone will signify that it's treat time!
Step Two: Have Fun With Wrapping Paper
Offer your furry buddy a wad of wrapping paper and excitedly rip it yourself. If he paws at or bites it, immediately reward him with a treat and praise so he learns it's OK to destroy the pretty paper. Be careful to stop him from chewing or swallowing the paper, and reward him only when he drops it out of his mouth. When he's ripping the paper, use commands like "Unwrap" and only reward him if he rips at the paper when given the command.
Step Three: Wrap Up Something Good
Now it's time to up the ante. Take a yummy treat and wrap it lightly in paper. Place the small package in front of your dog and say "Unwrap!" The scent of the treat and the previous lesson should encourage your pup to start opening that package. And remember, practice makes perfect, so do this several times in a row with breaks as needed if he gets a little bored.
Associating this behavior with a command is key because you only want your pooch to open his presents on command, not open random presents under the tree, which could lead to some unwanted holiday high jinks.
Step Four: Add a Box
So your dog can rip into wrapping paper, but what about a box? This takes the trick one step further. Present your pooch with a box that's not too hard to open — like a shoe box with a lid, or an already-opened gift box.
Put a treat or favorite toy inside the box and encourage your dog to open the lid by showing him how it works. Once he nudges, bites or paws it open, give him a treat and say "Open." When you say the command, he should open the box each time before getting a reward.
Step Five: Put It All Together
Put a few treats in the box and wrap it lightly — a bow is optional. Remember to go easy on the tape and avoid using ribbon or string that your little friend might try to eat, which could be dangerous for him. Give your pal the present and say "Unwrap" followed by "Open" if there's a box involved. Then sit back and enjoy watching your pup open presents with you when the holidays come around, no thumbs required!
By Miranda Niemiec for Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
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