Mental Stimulation Pt. 2 -GAMES-
Well, winter is finally rolling in, the dogs are dusting off their boots and coats, and we rushed off to buy her majesty a new coat and boots! As usual, my son is chomping at the bit to get his new snow boots out, and make a snowman. Granted this time of year we aren’t quite full of snowman deep snow…but, hey, a boy can dream! At this point the weather has me generally following everyone around with a mop, and I swear there always seems to be yet another set of muddy paw prints alongside some tiny boot tread marks…and it’s never enough. They want to be inside…yet they want to be outside…as soon as they are outside, they want back inside…no matter of walking is enough, classes 4 nights a week aren’t enough, and even the old man is getting tired of being cooped up…he misses his arch nemesis in the back yard (the schnauzer next door…they like to stare at each other all day through a hole in the fence…a story for another day). So keeping my dogs busy inside and outside by burning brain power is something we incorporate really often to keep my house peaceful. Games and training are an awesome way to burn off some energy, and we have a couple of games that we really like to play with our pack, and it’s really fun to include the kiddos too!
This is my favorite! For a couple of reasons really, the dogs really seem to enjoy it and so do the kids! Vino did some nose work classes with a couple of different trainers (Yep! Trainers attend classes from other trainers!). It’s such a great way to get the wheels turning, and burning some mental energy! It’s a really easy indoor activity, and you can mix it up to keep pushing your pup!
- My dog’s are great at the “wait” command, so I usually just back them up down the hallway and one at a time put them into a “wait” to get started. You can simply put your dog in the other room if “wait” is not an option just yet, either way, you really want them out of the way, and YES not where they can see you!
- Then go hide a treat, and to start put them in an easy to find spot.
- Release your dog either from their position, or room, and tell them to “Find it” until they come across the treat you have hidden for them.
- At the moment they find the treat, I like to click my clicker marking the completion of the “find it” command and helping their brains link the action to the command.
After your dog catches on, start adding more treats and progressively intensify the hiding spaces. Once your dog finds the fist cookie, and eats it, tell them to “Find it” again until they find the second cookie. Mark and repeat until all of the treats have been found! Change it up, make it more and more difficult. You can even take small bowls, and hide small portions of your dog’s meal instead of treats. It works just as well for a food motivated dog, however if your dog loves food, but isn’t CRAZY for kibble, the large bones from Old Mother Hubbard are my favorite, but it really doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it’s of high value to your dog! Have a ball crazy mutt? Use a ball! Get creative!
Hide and Seek
My kids get a kick out of hide and go seek! It’s a pretty simple way to get the brain wheels turning, and can be really fun for the entire family! Get your kiddos started, you can all take a treat and go find a spot in the house, and take turns calling for your dog until he finds each one of you one at a time.
- Start by using the “wait command” or putting the dog in another room…OR if your already having trouble with recalls, and you look down, and your dog isn’t in the room you’re in…
- HIDE! Keep it simple to start, and grow as your dog progresses. Make sure you have a treat with you ready to reward when they finally find you.
- Continue to call your dog’s name, and “Come!” until they find you, at that point you can reward your buddy (click first if you’re using a clicker). This is an awesome exercise, because it not only gets the brain turning, but it works on your recalls!
So this weekend, while your home with your kids and dogs, take advantage of these, and give them a try! Even though Christmas is a few days away, our dogs need their daily exercise! With the to-do list growing for last minute holiday “stuff”, don’t forget to find some time to keep your buddy busy, so they don’t find a way to keep themselves busy with your things!