Explore The Great Indoors With Your Pet

September 22, 2018

Weather wise, it has not been an ideal summer. The weather has been extremely hot and humid, or it has been raining for much of the time. What to do with a young and energetic puppy?! Smudge is pretty chill and can adapt to being a couch potato. But a puppy has boundless energy and requires exercise and stimulation. Swayze needs to be busy, or I suffer the consequences of whining and trouble making. Adult dogs need things to do as well, some breeds more than others. Keeping your dog entertained can be a challenge. And trying to come up with new ideas on how to keep your dog busy can be more exhausting than actually getting up and doing it. Keep busy Bored dogs get into trouble. We’re their main source of entertainment, so if we’re not giving them things to do, they’ll come up with activities of their own — and that’s when we end up with chewed up shoes and table legs. By playing with your dog a few times a day, you can decrease the likelihood of them developing destructive habits such as excessive barking or chewing. Be creative and think outside of the box. 1. Play find the treats with your dog Nose work games are one of the easiest ways to tire out your dog, and this is a great exercise for a very food motivated dog such as Swayze. When you teach your dog some basic nose work games such as “find the treats,” you are mentally tiring them out and helping them hone in on some of their natural skills. Grab some treats and have your dog watch as you place them around the room. Give your dog the cue to “find the treats” and encourage your dog to pick them up, remembering to praise them every time they find one. After you are confident that your dog understands what “find the treats” means, you can make it a bit more challenging. Have them stay in another room as you hide the treats, and start hiding them in spots they have to sniff out like under a rug. 2. Teach your dog to clean up his toys If your dog’s toys are kept in a container, you can teach them to put their toys away. My boys have a toy box. I know it sounds weird to teach your dog to clean up after themselves, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Teaching your dog new skills boosts their confidence, and it’s a great way to give them more mental stimulation. If your dog already knows “drop it,” have them pick up a toy and give them their drop it command once they’re standing over the container. Praise them like crazy, and repeat. As the dog learns to release the toy into the container, you can gradually move the container short distances away until your dog is carrying the toy and dropping it in. Baby steps to teach this behavior. Eventually, with consistency, you will have a dog that will be able to clean up after himself. So much fun to show your company! 3. Use a stuffed Kong to keep your dog busy Stuffed Kongs are my favorite when it comes to relieving dog boredom because they’re easy to prepare and will keep your dog occupied for a long time. If you want to keep your dog busy for awhile, try stuffing a Kong with their favorite treats. You can freeze some peanut butter or broth inside, some of their canned food or squeeze cheese. Or just put some treats in there and give your dog something to work for. Using a stuffed Kong is a great way to keep your dog busy while you’re at work. Put your stuffed Kong in the freezer overnight and give it to your dog in the morning as you’re leaving. A frozen Kong will last 30 plus minutes for most dogs — much longer if you fill it completely. And a frozen Kong relieves the sensitive gums of a teething puppy. By the way, Swayze has gotten his adult teeth! Stuffing a Kong is an easy way to keep your dog busy and entertained. Just make sure to buy the right size Kong for your dog. 4. Play a game of tug of war with your dog Playing a game of tug of war is one of the best ways to engage in meaningful play with our dogs. It’s a great way to mentally and physically exercise your dog. And since it doesn’t require a ton of room, you can play it indoors. And contrary to what some people say, playing tug will not make your dog aggressive, and letting them win will not make them dominant. Letting your dog win just makes the game more fun for your dog, and it will encourage them to play more. Dogs that play tug with their owners have been found to be more obedient and have higher confidence. Teach them to hold onto the tug toy and not to get grabby with your hands. Otherwise, game over. Your rules. Tug is a great way to exercise your dog as long as your dog understands “the game stops if your teeth touch my hand.” To keep my dog busy on rainy days, use interactive games such as tug, find the treats, puzzle games and fetch. Interactive games are an easy way to give your dog plenty of mental stimulation, and they can help cut down on problem behaviors such as excessive chewing or barking. If you’re going to play fetch indoors, use a lightweight ball to avoid breaking all of the things (lesson learned). A game of tug is a lot of fun for dogs, and it’s a great way to increase your dogs manners and impulse control. It’s also a pretty good workout. Minute for minute it’s one of the more physically demanding games to play. 5. Make your dog work for his food We give our dogs a nice comfy life — they get a warm bed, lots of attention, and their meals for free. But our dogs were bred to work alongside us, many of our dogs are missing out on some mentally stimulating activities. One of the easiest ways to challenge their minds is to make them work for their meals. You can make your dog perform some tricks before he gets his dinner, or you can have them eat from a food-dispensing toy. 6. Teach your dog the names of their toys Have you seen Chaser, the Border Collie? I saw her on TV, and she is amazing. She knows more than 1,000 words and can pick out any given toy among 800 just by its name. We can’t all be overachievers like Chaser, but we can teach our dogs the names of their toys. Start by playing with one specific toy and giving it a name while you do. After some practice and praise, your dog will associate that verbal name with the chosen toy. Once your dog has learned that specific toy’s name, you can test their skills by seeing if they can pick it out among their other toys. Dogs have the ability to learn hundreds of words. Start teaching your dog the names of his toys and play a game of “go find pink bear” with them. Have some fun with your dog on the next rainy day. I hate to think about this yet, but these games are good for cold winter days as well. As for cats, get out the fishing pole toys and laser lights and get them moving! Enjoy! Dog bless. Resource: puppyleaks.com Judy Endo writes about pets. Contact her at judyendo@outlook.com.

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