By Jen Weller, Behavior & Enrichment Coordinator
December 12, 2013
Unless your dog is a Husky or Malamute, if we have another cold front like we did last week, it’s going to be too cold outside for your dog to spend a lot of time outdoors comfortably. Keep your dogs from going stir crazy with a few simple toys and games.
Treat or Toy Hunt
Put your dog in a confined area of the house. Next, hide small pieces of food treats throughout your house. If you are doing this for the first time, hide the treats in easy to find places and more difficult areas when they become good at hunting down the treats. Once the treats are hidden away, release your dog from it’s confined area and encourage them to “find it”. You can help them by moving towards a few treats and pointing to them. With practice, your dog will quickly become an expert on using their nose to find treats. This will stimulate your dogs natural hunting and searching skills.
Hide and Seek
This game is similar to the treat hunt game but instead of teaching your dog to hunt for their favorite treats or toys, they hunt for you! If you have a helper have them keep the dog in one spot as you go and hide, again the first few times make it easy. Once you are in your hiding spot, call their name and then reward them with treats or praise when they find you. Increase the difficulty of your hiding spot as your dog catches on. This is also a fun way to work on getting your dog to come when they are called.
Clicker Train New Behaviors
Clicker training is a fun way to teach your dog new behaviors. Practice basic behaviors like Sit, Stay and Come or teach a new trick like Roll Over or Shake. You don’t necessarily need a clicker, you can use a word like “good” just keep it consistent. Ten minutes of training and mental stimulation, equals 45 minutes of physical exercise! To learn more about clicker training visit: www.clickertraining.com.
Tug of War
Playing Tug with your dog is a great way to help them release some energy and fulfill their natural urges to grab and pull on things with their mouths. It can also be a way for you to teach them how to “get it” and “let go,” all while getting in a good exercise. Try to teach your dog not to grab the toy until you say so. Do this by rewarding them for staying while you leave the toy on the ground. Once they have that down, move on to the next cue word “get it!” This will teach them that they are allowed to grab the toy. Now you can initiate the game. Next, your dog must learn how to let go. Let go of the toy and say “let go.” Once your dog releases the toy, reward them immediately.
Find a variety of different sized boxes, place your dog’s favorite treat of toy in it, fold the box lid down. Let your dog experiment with the box by sniffing, moving, pawing and moving the box around. This is the first step of doing scent work with your dog too!