I’m making a declaration in regards to dog training–no more lazy food!
Humans have to go to work everyday for money to feed ourselves and pay bills, and in the dog world food, affection, and play=currency. If you want to bond and work with your dog, do away with the food bowl, ration out the kibble for the day, and put it and a clicker in your pocket.
Every time your pup does something you like click and reward. The clicker is a great teaching tool with dogs, it expedites the learning process by marking the exact behavior you like or ask for. This makes dogs much more attentive to you. You can also shape behaviors with the clicker by clicking and treating at various stages of a behavior. This is how agility training is taught. You can learn more about clicker training here: http://www.clickertraining.com/ also the book “Don’t Shoot the Dog” by Karen Pryor is very informative about teaching all animals with operant conditioning.
I also say don’t let the dogs push you around for affection and play. Ask them to sit, give paw, down, etc. before giving affection or play. Small adjustments like this to your daily routine with challenge your dog more and make them more respectful overall. It’s not about not giving affection but giving it at the right time.
Another great tool to help challenge dogs, give them a job, and burn energy is the dog backpack. If you have a somewhat hyper dog you can put this on them during walks and put some full water bottles or ankle/wrist weights in the pockets or whatever you need to carry, just make sure its not too heavy. This also obviously only appropriate for dogs who don’t have hip problems.