Origin of Positive Training through Play ♡

Have you ever thought about your dogs ancient ancesters and how the dog came to be "Mans Best Friend"?

It is thought that our early ancestors observed the feral dog in its natural habitat as a playful interactive creature.
It is widely accepted that the playfulness that feral dogs exhibited in the wild, and later on in captivity, was a major contributing factor in the early domestication of canines. This eventually led to the development of selective breeding, resulting in the diversity of breed and size that we are familiar with today.

From the little we do historically know, (for very little scientific research has been made into the complex area of the importance of play in a dog's life, and what little research has been done, is flawed by its limitations) we can, by just observing a dog, (any dog that is healthy and active) see that a high percentage of a dog's life is taken up with short bursts of play, and that this play very often results in benefits for the dog that can be felt, eaten or perceived by the dog as being something that the dog enjoys.
So we see that play is very central to a dog's daily activities. Therefore it is easy for us to deduce that fom the very early stages, the relationship between man and his Best Friend, (Dog) there existed playful interaction which was almost like a language that was mutually understood, and bridging the gap between the species understanding of each other.

Our ancestors began to develop an inter-dependent relationship with this highly social, intelligent species and this, in turn, led to the very first working dogs.

Play has been the cornerstone of the foundation that created a deep and lasting bond between man and his dog for centuries, in fact it appears that it may have been the cornerstone from the get go.

Sadly, for the domesticated dog, over the years, man did not always acknowledge or even understand the importance attached to play in a dog's life or the many ways (both physical and mental) in which play affects the growth and developmental capacity of the dog and also I might add the growth and development of the bond our dog builds with us and vice versa. In other words if yiu don't put an effort into playing with your dog(at the very least tossing a ball or a Frisbee for him now and then, then you cannot expect your dog to the building of the bond all on his own .

Many training methods have come and gone over the years. Some methods being very harsh, worked to a certain extent, but did not, on the whole, make for a happy dog who was eager to perform, nor was the Trainer and his client always happy with the level of inteligence displayed by the trained dog, or the level of obedience achieved..

It was the Circus Folk who discovered or rediscovered the secret to training a happy dog who was eager to work and even happy to perform in high distraction areas, surrounded by large cheering and applauding audiences.

The essence of the secret these Master Craftsmen discovered and handed down from generation to generation, from one Circus Animal or Dog Trainer to another, was to combine training with play. These Master Trainers learned how to blend what was necessary for the animal to learn, with what was fun for the animal to do, and turned it into a much loved game.

Lelah started out her dog training career in this setting, learning how to train a dog to do many things by turning the training session into a game during which the dog earned treats.

It was during this time that the seed was set for the birth of "Training Your Own Full Potential Service Dog"(R) when Lelah's uncle Joseph, a Master Trainer, set about encouraging his young niece to become his apprentice, and learn the ancient craft of dog training that had been handed down from one generation to the next among the circus folk.

In fact, the circus folk, who studied this craft were able to apply it to other animals and birds also.

All of us, who have read Lelah's books, are familiar with Lelah's fond memories of her early apprenticeship, and the story of her uncle Joseph and his amazing dog, "Pup" which recounts how a stray dog used his playful character to endear himself to uncle Joseph, and by doing so transformed Uncle Joseph's life.

Lelah Sullivan, who understood the value of play in the life of a dog, set about engineering a Service Dog Training course that used interactive short bursts of play during the training sessions.

Lelah's book, however, went one step farther in its emphasis on the importance of rest and play.

The book recommends several days off for Handler and dog during the intensive training course contained within its pages, and Lelah Sullivan encourages Handlers to chill out with their dogs on these "Rest Days"and have fun, playing ordinary simple games with their dogs, or just to spend time relaxing with them as the moment dictates.

Check out some of the suggested games that can be played with your dog on days off by reading about them in "Training Your Own Full Potential Service Dog" (R) by Lelah Sullivan, which is the training book that we I recommend to my clients and the book that is my own go to even now if I am trying to figure a new game I look to the games tjat Lelah Sullivan created and from there on the path ahead is made easy.


Sharing moments of play with your Dog, and enjoying things that your dog likes to do, doesnt have to be complicated or indeed require a lot of energy on your part.

Simple games can be created to ensure that your dog has ample exercise which also fulill your dogs need for play.

A well known added bonus, of course, is that time spent playing with your dog is good for your heath and wellbeing also.

Happy Playtime everyone!
Happy Training ♡