Puzzle Toys or Kong Stuffing:
When it comes to entertaining our dog on wet days we always go with a stuffed Kong toy as an effective method of entertaining and stimulating our dog. Kong toys come in a variety of sizes and can be stuffed with whatever healthy treat you know your dog will respond to. We often use a Kong stuffed with peanut butter*. When placed in the freezer for several hours, this provides your dog with a tempting treat which stimulates your dog mentally and will give you a half an hour at least to relax (unless you have kids then....good luck!)
*Let’s Talk Peanut Butter
Now, peanut butter is one of those things that almost ALL dogs love. But please be aware that you need to use natural peanut butter or at least make sure that the peanut butter doesn’t contain Xylitol.
The Cup Game:
Another great game for stimulating your dog mentally. Simply use three cups, tubs, plant pots....you get the idea. Allow your dog to see you place a treat under one of the cups and then move the cups around to change their order. Then allow your dog to locate the treat. Add more cups to make this more difficult and ensure you keep rotating which cup hides the treat so as to spread the scent of the treat across all of the cups being used.
Chase The Bubbles:
Ermmmm...well, you get your dog to chase bubbles. It’s really that simple. But, your dog will love it and stay engaged for hours or until your home is covered in a damp, sticky layer which the other half will thank you for!
Hide and Seek:
Start within one room. Ensure your dog remains in one area whilst you hide treats around the room. On a command, allow the dog to find the treats. Once your dog has mastered one room, you can then progress to hiding treats across the house. Just ensure you
remember where you’ve hidden the treats to save you the embarrassment of others in the household or even guests finding treats hidden in strange places!
Tug of War:
Great if you require a work out as much as your dog does. I use an old long sports sock (rugby or football socks are great). Tie a knot in either end and then wave the sock tantalisingly in front of your pet
pooch. You’ll soon be engaged in a fight to the death as your dog attempts to pull your arm from its socket in attempting to win the sock. They’re surprisingly strong so warm up! You can also buy custom made doggy Tug of War toys.
Indoor Agility Course:
Use chairs, boxes and literally anything that’s sturdy enough to cope with your excited dog potentially knocking into it as they blindly scamper around your living room. You may need to guide them around the first few runs but then your dog will become conditioned to the activity and be able to complete it on its own. Or – you can always chase your dog around the course, but please ensure your neighbours aren’t watching or else you're liable to looking slightly crazy!
*A word of caution: be prepared that whatever obstacles or activities you allow your dog to leap on/ over or do during your Agility Course session will most likely be repeated afterwards by your dog. My example: During one Indoor Agility Course session, my dog and I ran upstairs, down the stairs over the sofa (covered by blanket), through my kids play tent and then finished on the landing upstairs. A quick wrestle and then we shot back down stairs. My wife was very confused when, as we headed upstairs to bed later on that evening, our dog shot up the stairs, did some type of Irish dance on our bed, flew downstairs, squealed as she sprinted over the sofa and then urinated across our kids play tent in excitement. It didn’t go down well!
We’ve saved the best activity for last. This activity is superb as a method of both stimulating and fatiguing your dog mentally. But more importantly will enable you to establish a training routine, command words and begin to understand how conditioning your dog actually works. I’ve attached a short video clip which highlights the impact Shaping can have on your pets behaviour. I highly recommend you try Shaping at the start of your wet weather ‘activity’ day as attempting to complete this activity at the end of a long day will most likely frustrate both dog and owner and ultimately fail.
*When rewarding or positively reinforcing your dog upon the successful completion of a skill (Operant Conditioning), please ensure that your chose the right treats. I would recommend using some of your dogs regular food type (apart from raw/ Paleo food) and then make allowances for this at your pets evening meal time by reducing the portion size. Or, provide your pet with alternative, healthy treats such as carrot bits or homemade dog treats. This has proven to be a great way of introducing new, healthy treats into my dogs eating and snacking habits as they are often so excited by the play activities that the actual treat taste is of no relevance (Read our recent blog post which discusses foods not to feed your dog to be sure your giving the correct treats).
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog posts and please comment below if you have any other games or activities you've found that work well with your dog during those all to often wet British days! Phil & Tim.