Any time is the perfect time to learn how to have fun! You can download this as a PDF here.
Interactive games and toys. You can buy or DIY. One option is a muffin tin with tennis balls. Put a treat or portion of food under each ball. They might need a demo first, then your dog will dislodge the balls to get the food. Look online for more DIYs or ready made options, there are heaps out there.
Find the treats. It’s like an Easter Egg Hunt for them! Pop them somewhere contained while you hide treats or even their entire meal around the house or yard. Start out easy and get tougher each time, it can take a while for them to stop relying on what they see and get their sniffer into action!
Be careful to put the treats where they are allowed, or you might encourage unwanted behaviour.
Which hand? Have a treat or bit of dinner in one of your closed fists, and hold both out to them. Mine use their paw to choose a hand, and I only open the one they tap. It’s also a great time to practice the ‘gentle’ rule!
Learning toy names. Teaching them to ‘get snake’ or ‘where’s monkey’ is fun. My two also know which one is a ‘Linka toy’ and which one is a ‘Bosco toy’. This is only fair, since Bosco shreds everything and Linka does not!
Build an obstacle course. Get them ducking under chairs, weaving around table legs, stepping over rolled up towels or stacked books. You can line up some pillows and get them to walk over them, the moving surface is great for toning muscles. Use your imagination!
The Shell Game. More sniffy fun! Line up three cups in front of your dog. Put a treat under while they are watching, and ask them “Which one?” or “Where is it?”. When they get it right lift up the cup and let them have the treat. When they understand, start moving around the cups with the treat under there!
Tug of war. Make sure you clear away anything breakable first as this gets EXCITING! This is great for enclosed spaces. When they know their toy names you can choose which one they bring. For me ‘get snake’ means no teeth get anywhere near my fingers! Also a great time to practice ‘gentle’, ‘leave it,’ ‘let go’, and ‘drop it’.
Play tag. Keep treats out of reach in all the rooms. Whenever you find yourself alone call them, give them praise and a treat when they arrive. This will reinforce recall out in the world, because they relate coming to you when called with good things happening. Even better with more than one person where you can take turns. Repetition helps them learn!
Blow bubbles. Things get pretty hectic when chasing bubbles! This is good for when they need to burn off some energy. I follow this with a Lickimat snack to calm down (any treat that takes a while will help calm them).
Basic training. There are so many resources available online for how to train. Everyone comments on how well behaved my dogs are (at home, no guarantees anywhere else!!). This is the perfect time to help yours learn ‘go to bed’, ‘where’s your toy’, ‘get the remote’, anything is possible!
Enjoy learning together!
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Animal Bodywork Therapist