Ugghhh winter is here and that can mean that if the weather is cold & raining mum doesn’t want to go outside for a walk or run…. And to be honest I’m a 1st World Dog so can take or leave it too if the lounge is looking nice and comfy too.
But I can start being a bit annoying if stuck inside for too long. It isn’t just the physical exercise I need. It is often more the mental stimulation which can wear me out even more. Mum has a bunch of little activities we can do at times like this. They can just take just a couple of minutes…. So great to do if you have put the kettle on for a hot drink. Don’t need equipment (just treats…. Of course) or a lot of space…. Yet to wonders for everyone’s sanity.
Here are 3 of our favourites:
1. Hide & Seek: this is my personal favourite as it involves treats or toys and using my nose. Put your dog in a sit or drop stay position (it is a great way to practice stays and make sure you reward for the stay if we do it) or if we aren’t quite there with the stay close us momentarily in a room or have someone hold us. Then take a favourite toy or a treat (mum prefers to put the treat on a flat plate or low bowl) and hide it somewhere in the house. Make it pretty easy to begin with so we understand the game. Once we get it than progressively make it harder so it takes us more time. Once the toy or treat is hidden come on back and release us. Mum then uses the word ‘find’ and holds her hands out flat (in that ‘I don’t know’ position you humans do). I then head off to find scooting around with my nose on the ground. When I find it we have a little party with mum telling me how clever I am. If I was searching for the toy we have a play with the toy (tug toys are great for this) and obviously the treat… Well I eat it. This is also a good one for those little humans to get involved in too. My Toddler is getting useful with this game and mum is letting her hide the toy or treat and she loves watching me scoot around searching cheering me on so a good one for all of us. Here is a past Training Tip Tuesday post on the game.
2. Basketball: this so one we are learning so it really makes me use my brain. While you can do it with my ‘formal’ equipment ie finding one of those mini basketball rings that go on desks (that is as formal as we get) we simply work on the concept with a tennis ball and a bowl. The idea is to simply get me to put the ball in the bowl. Mum sits on the ground and places the bowl in front of her… Pretty much where I would normally drop the ball back at her when we are playing fetch. Mum rolls the ball a little way out and I fetch it as I normally would. I bring it back and if I put it in the bowl mum says ‘yes’ and gives me a treat. If I don’t she leaves the ball where it is for a moment until I go grab it again and drop it. She basically lets me figure out that ball in bowl gets me a reward. Once I start getting the hang of it she adds a word to it…. In this case it is ‘bowl’ (mum’s a simple creature so she doesn’t confuse the words too much) and we do it a few more times with the bowl in front of her. Then she slowly starts to move the bowl away a little bit. If it isn’t quite working she moves the bowl back in closer for a few goes and then tries again. Don’t forget treat or reward when we put it in. I think mum’s long term plan for this is to teach me to put all my tennis balls away so she doesn’t trip on them but it is also a great party trick, especially if you have the little basketball ring.
Because I’m not very good at it yet here is a picture of one of the very clever Wonderdogs playing basketball.
3. Backing Up: 3 Steps Back is our nemesis station in Rally Obedience. If mum walks the course and sees it than she just plans to work off a score of 90 rather than 100 (hence big relief when it wasn’t in the last Rally Excellent course where we got 92 points and our title). So anyway back to backing up…. Well it is the same thing as you humans walking backwards except us dogs are normally not that great at it. It takes some thinking and practice… Perfect for a rainy day. Easiest way to start is with your dog in the standing position between you and a solid wall (hallways are great for this). Hold a treat in your hand and down low, below our nose so we don’t just sit). Mum also turns her hand around and puts it just on the outside of my nose. As mum moves her hand back the food works as a lure. Initially just reward for one step back. Then as we work out what is going on reward for multiple steps back. Remember to not push it to be too difficult too quickly. Set us up for success. Once we have mastered the solid wall than start phasing it out. Starting on the solid wall but after 2 steps against the wall maybe have a chair as the barrier after the wall. Slowly phase out the wall and other barriers. We practice this for the Rally O Excellent station but the backward walking is also used a lot in Dances with Dogs (here is a clip of some dancing clips from Richard Curtis in the UK who we think is pretty talented). Here is our Training Tip Tuesday post on Backward Heel too.
So there you have it… With not much in the way of equipment (just remember the treats) and not a lot of space required here are a few ways to keep us pups out of trouble when we are stuck inside and bored.
What’s your favourite rainy day trick?