By Nancy Hassel, ThisFurryLife.com
With most of the county in a blanket of snow or ice, under freezing temperatures, it doesn’t take long for our dogs to get bored, and some may be event displaying not so nice behaviors. Since it is National Walk Your Dog Month – and National Train Your Dog Month in January, while you may not always be able to get out for longer walks due to the weather (rain, snow, sleet, ice), there are many ways you can combat your dog from being bored with fun training you can at home. Doing training segments and games with your dog throughout the day or evening, with short stints, will keep your dog entertrained (typo, but I think I will keep it!), and less likely to be destructive or petstering you!
Simple at home Dog Training Tips:
- Watching too much Netflix while snowed in? Use the commercial breaks to do short and fun training sessions with your dog.
- Take it up a notch, maybe your dog knows the basics, sit, stay, down, paw, other paw, speak – why not try teaching your pup ‘touch’ or ‘place.’ Touch is teaching your dog to touch your hand, and objects, and place is a wonderful command to get your dog to know to go to his place i.e. his crate, his bed, a door mat in your house, etc. Both of these are simple to do and you will be surprised how quickly they get it. (Watch this video of my dog learning touch).
- How many words does your dog know? Have some fun writing down each training word your dog knows, of course while rewarding your pup after each word he knows. (Great activity to get your kids involved in too).
- Does your dog know to stay? To really stay? Work on his or her stays in different locations within your house. Then when it gets warmer start in different areas outside.
Fun indoor games and boredom busters:
- Hide and go seek – you may have seen the hilarious videos online of pet parents and their dogs playing hide and seek. This is a fun way to train your dog as well. You can start out by having someone hold your dog (if he doesn’t have his stay down pat yet) and you go hide. Then the person holding your dog can release him and tell him to go find you. Dogs usually get this game immediately. The training trick, is they are learning to stay, seek and use their brain and senses to look for you. 15 minutes of this and your dog is likely to be tired out!
- Find it – This can be done a few different ways, but the easiest is to take a few treats, break them into smaller treats (or use a handful of kibble) and have your dog sit and stay. Put a couple treats about 6-feet in front of him, but in plain site and say, “Buddy, find it,” and point to the treats. When he trots over to eat them, tell him, “Good job, good find it!” Then continue to do this making the treats further away, and not so obvious. Dogs get the hang of this pretty quickly, and love this game too. You can make it harder by having the dog sit and stay in another room, and hide the treats throughout the house. Just be sure to deduct the kibble or treats from what you normally feed the dog. You don’t want to make the dog overweight!
- Stuffable Toys – There are many types of dog toys you can stuff with treats, natural organic peanut butter, my favorite is the reliable Kong classic. Your dog should be supervised with any toy, same goes for the Kong. Try stuffing it with a few pieces of kibble that fall out easily and one larger biscuit that will take longer for your pup to get to. Kongs come in all shapes and sizes, and different levels of toughness from: Puppy, Classic, Senior and Extreme. Be sure to get the right size and level for your chewer, and always supervise.
Enroll in dog training classes:
- Even if your dog is trained – enrolling in a class will get you and your dog out of the house! You can enroll in agility, confirmation, obedience, rally, nose works, fitness classes, swimming classes, dock diving (if there is an indoor pool near you), lure coursing, flyball and so many others. I take my dog to a basic agility class once a week, and he is completely wiped out the next day! (And he loves it!)
Hire a dog walker:
- Schedule so busy lately you can seem to find the time to take your dog for a good long walk? Hire a dog walker to do that for you, even if you’re home. Many people work from home and still don’t have the time to get a good long walk in every day. See if you can find a dog walker with some dog training experience as well. As they say, a tired dog is a good dog!
And if you can, get out and walk your dog regularly, it will be good for both of you and you can do some basic training while out on a walk to keep your dogs mind stimulated as well.
What is your favorite dog boredom buster? Post in the comment section below!