We are happy to introduce a guest blogger, Katy Johnson from Love That Dog Charlotte!
We’ve all heard the expression, “A tired dog is a good dog.” But did you know there’s more to tiring a dog out than physical exercise? Mental exercise, or teaching your dog to think and work, can be just as tiring and a lot more stimulating for your dog. Think about your dog’s life. What does he do all day? How much interaction does he get with you when you do get home?
Even if your dog is physically tired, he could greatly benefit from some enrichment in his life. Try one or more of these activities tonight and see how he does.
Hide and Seek:
Start out easy. When you and your dog are in the same room, duck behind the couch and call him. Reward with food or toys or whatever your dog’s favorite motivators are. Have the whole family participate and take turns hiding. This game is really fun as you increase the difficulty and it’s also a great rainy day activity.
Your dog was meant to forage for his food. Let him experience that once in awhile by tossing a few pieces of his kibble where he can see them and telling him to find it. Begin tossing it further and further away, and as he starts to use his nose to find it, you can increase the difficulty. If you have a yard or a grassy area along your walks, start playing Find It there. Your dog could eat his whole meal this way and be much more satisfied because he got to work for it.
Treat dispensing toys/food puzzles:
Lose the food bowl and encourage your dog to work for his meals. Both of these are great for keeping dogs busy during your meal times as well as providing chances for him to think and work. Many versions of these are available online and in stores.
These are my favorite enrichment toys. They are easy to stuff with canned food, peanut butter, kibble, and anything else that is healthy for dogs to eat. Start out easy by putting one spoonful into the Kong and holding it out for your dog to try. Once he gets the hang of it, you can freeze the Kong overnight for added difficulty. While these are great toys for helping your dog relax and focus on something and work and think, they can also be great in a pinch when you need your dog to settle down for a while. I like to be proactive and keep a couple in the freezer. They are ready when I need them and a great way to distract my dogs from something that is bothering them.
Spend some time each day going over your dog’s basic obedience skills. Reward for correct behavior and slowly increase the criteria and difficulty. If your dog is already proficient in obedience in your home, start working outside around distractions. When I leave my private training lessons, 80% of the dogs are sound asleep because working and thinking are tiring and new to them.
I love watching dogs work and think. Whether they are at daycare or home during the day, we owe it to them to spend some time interacting with them and enriching their lives when we get home. We expect them to live in our lives with our busy schedules; let’s set them up to succeed!
Did you know Love That Dog Charlotte offers obedience training WHILE your dog is at daycare or boarding at Dogs All Day? Day training lessons are efficient and effective. Contact me for more information!
Love That Dog Charlotte