Date: November 17th, 2010
As winter is approaching, its great to have on hand some creative games for your dog, for when he gets “cabin fever.” Dogs are happiest when they are mentally and physically stimulated, so keep these tips in mind to provide your dog with boredom relief for the upcoming months.
GO SOMEWHERE NEW: When a client asks us to walk their dog on the same path everyday, we usually ask the client if we can switch it up instead, and here is the reason why: going new places, or just going on a different route offers the excitement and mental stimulation of new sights and smells, in addition to exercise.
TEACH SOMETHING NEW: Did you know that mental exercise tires a dog more quickly and thoroughly than physical exercise? So teach your dog a new trick this week! Can your dog balance a treat on his nose? Shake a paw? Roll over? Crawl along the floor? Jump through a hoop? Play dead? Retrieve? Pick a new trick, and start training! Don’t forget that consistency is very important when training.
GIVE YOUR DOG A BONE OR A FOOD DISPENSING TOY: Chewing is healthy for dogs, and helps them relieve stress as well. Food dispensing toys are invaluable boredom busters. While rubber Kongs are classic toys and can be stuffed with a great variety of treats and tasties, there are many other options on the market now, like: Aikiou toy, Nina Ottosson’s toys, Kong wobbler, Kibble Nibble, Busy Buddy toys, Orbee Treat Spot toys, Tug-a-Jugs, and Buster Cubes.
KIBBLE HUNT: If you place your dog’s kibble in a food bowl, chances are the bowl is empty within 15 seconds and the dog gazes up at you upon finishing as if to say, “is that it?” You can put that food to work for you by making your dog hunt for it with his nose. Instead of dumping the food in his bowl, consider crating him while you hide small piles of food in the house then release him to “kibble hunt.” Initially, make the piles very easy to find. As your dog gets better at this game, practice hiding the food in more difficult spots.
HIDE AND SEEK: Hide and seek is a great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body and recall skills. Each family member should stock up on great treats. Family members will take turns hiding throughout the house, calling the dog to them, and rewarding her generously when she arrives. When her treats are finished, say “all done!” which is the cue for the next family member to call him.
DO SOMETHING OLD WITH A NEW TWIST: Turn your dog’s favorite game into a training game! For every throw of the toy, ask your dog for some obedience behavior or trick as you hold the toy. As soon as your dog performs, give him some praise, then send your dog after his toy. Dogs adore this game, once they understand how it works. For working breeds, it also gives them a fun, satisfying outlet for their built-in drive to work with you.
ARRANGE A PLAY DATE: Dogs benefit from social interaction outside their family unit. If your dog gets along well with other dogs, find some time to get together with a friend or relative and their dog. If you do not know someone with a dog you can arrange a date with, you can always call Whiskers and Leo Pet Care!
Have fun with this and feel free to share comments about your favorite game to play with your dog!