Is your dog bored or frustrated? Here are some fun activities that are actually easy to add to your life…
Especially if you are the owner of a “supahsmaht” dog, you may have found out that the pent-up canine can get destructive or otherwise into trouble when they’re bored, frustrated, or simply too full of energy to relax!
Here are some fun and easy ways to keep Chauncy out of the garbage and your sanity intact without too much extra work.
Play the Find It Game!
Get yourself a handful of smelly treats that your dog loves & won’t make a mess of your carpets or window sills! Set your dog up in one area of the house, like the kitchen or living room.
1) Ask your dog to sit! (Put a leash & collar on him if you are worried about him holding the position.)
2) While he is in the sit, ask him to wait. Place the treat on the floor about 4 feet in front of him, in obvious view. (If your dog breaks position before you release him, use his leash & collar to lead him back to the same exact spot & put him in the same exact position.)
3) Once you have the treat placed on the floor (about four feet in front of him to start) and you’ve stood back up, tell your dog in an excited voice to “FIND IT!!” and encourage him to go get the treat.
4) Now, put him in a sit and ask him to wait in another different part of the house, and place the treat just a teeny bit further away from him, or around the corner.
5) Again, once you’ve placed the treat on the floor and stood all the way back up, go back to your pup, and excitedly tell him to “FIND IT!!” Encourage him to get the treat!
6) Repeat steps 1-5 progressively making it more & more difficult to find the treat! (I have hidden them on window sills, closets, under laundry, in the ottoman…) Encourage him and help him if he needs it but resist the urge to help him TOO much. We WANT them to use their brains! It’s very cool to see those gears turning!
Keep a Couple of Frozen Kongs Around… But Follow this Rule!
When there comes that inevitable day when you feel like you gipped your dog some personal time, keeping a few frozen Kongs on hand can be a guilt-reducer. This is a rather simple thing to do that is often forgotten in the shuffle. Frozen Kings stuffed with peanut butter, cream cheese, wet food or some other treat can be easily awesome entertainment for your canine. Most people have heard that much. The way to help and not hinder your relationship here is by following this rule: Ask your dog to do something – sit, down or some other task or cue he/she knows – and toss him/her the Kong BEFORE Fido or Marla is acting up!
If you can see your dog getting antsy or you know you have to skip that evening walk, try to head off your dog’s misbehavior by giving them something to do BEFORE they get into trouble. Chewing the frozen Kong may be enough to take the edge off while grandma visits.
Go Doggie Back-Packing!
A dog backpack, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a piece of equipment that looks like saddlebags for dogs. They come in many different styles, fit quite small to extra large breed dogs, and can be used to carry everything from actual weights, to cell phones, leashes and poop bags! (Always consult your vet before beginning any serious exercise program with your canine, but generally you can add about 10-12% of the dog’s body weight to the backpack safely.)
The benefits of adding a backpack to your daily – or any! – walk are twofold. Physically backpacks benefit the dog by tiring them out more and giving them a better workout per walk. Mentally, the benefits can best be described from the dog’s perspective:
Picture you’re the dog. A weighted backpack is sized to you. You’re aware of the pack on your back. You have to compensate for it in your movement. You have to adjust your balance a little bit. It can shift the focus from panicky & scattered to more stream-lined and focused.
Often, and sometimes immediately, you see the dog relax. Less scattered, less scanning ahead or around them with their eyes. The backpack helps channel their focus & helps them “settle” or feel more grounded.
Many people own working breed dogs and don’t even realize it. When I say “working” I am referring more to a personality type than a specific breed. A working dog wants a job to do, and for lack of education, a large percentage of owners don’t give their working breed dogs that respect. Carrying both of your parcels via the backpack on a structured walk can be a form of a job, and once acclimated, so many dogs flourish with this change in their routines.
Sometimes it’s the smallest adjustment to your routine that makes a world of difference to your canine. Live happier & more cohesively by literally and figuratively throwing your dog a bone once in a while. It may not take a lot to add a little entertainment to your dog’s life, but it will certainly add years to it by keeping his body active and his mind at work. Add one, two or all three of these easy activities to your normal routine for three weeks and see the difference.
Happy training from Bellingham, Massachusetts!
Cassie-Leigh Stock, ABCDT, CTDI, AKC-CGC, CDT, All-Star TC
My name is Cassie-Leigh Stock, Massachusetts-native and founder of HEX Dog Training & Behavior Modification, headquartered in Mendon. I also manage the boarding kennel at a Franklin animal hospital. I trained for a large corporate chain for six years, and spent two of those years as an Area Pet Training Instructor, teaching dog training classes as well as training trainers. It was a complete pleasure, and I loved my time there, although I began to feel the desire to further spread my wings. As I become more immersed in the craft and continued to further my education, eventually it was time to part ways with the big box store in order to pursue what had become my dream, and start my own dog training company. That is where HEX was born. HEX is short for Higher Expectations, and I specialize in pit bulls and group class instruction.
My inspiration for my entire career, and in one form or another, my life, is my American pit bull terrier, Spark Plug. He was my first pit bull, and he came to me from a shelter in Rhode Island when he was about five weeks old. I was hooked on bully breeds after that, and that reflects in my multi-dog home. I love this occupation as much as the day I started, and this July I will celebrate my ten year anniversary of professional dog training accreditation. My credentials include: Canine Good Citizen evaluator, certified through Animal Behavior College, and Certified Trick Dog Instructor. Other interests include reading, writing, hiking, training and recently… painting.