You can tell spring is on its way, but we still have some time to go. Here are some easy ideas to help occupy your dog through the last stretch of winter!
1. Nosework Games- Introduce your dog to nosework by teaching them to sniff out treats inside the house.
Step 1: To get started, ask your dog to “stay” or simply have them gated behind a baby gate or held on a leash by another family member. Show them some tasty treats you have in your hand, and place one out on the floor in plain view. Immediately release your dog and say “find it” or “search!” Praise and cheer them on as they find the treat. Do this several times so they start to learn the search cue.
Step 2: Make it a little harder. Start to hide the treats behind chairs or table legs, but make sure your dog can see where you are putting them. When you release your dog, cheer them on and make sure they are easily able to find the treats. If they aren’t, help them out.
Step 3: When they’re easily playing the game and finding all the treats, take it up a notch. Have them wait out of sight or behind a closed door while you hide the loot, then release them and use your search cue, and praise praise praise as they search. This is when they’ll really have to use their nose to work, and that means their brain is working too!
Bonus Round: Pot o’ Gold- Hide their whole food bowl for them at dinner time so they have to go find it!
2. Indoor Agility- Who says you have to have a lot of space to do agility? Agility is really about connecting with your dog while you teach them tricks using objects. Look around your house- you can use anything! Place a broom or mop between two chairs to create a jump. Have your dog wrap around the kitchen counter or the children using a tasty treat. How many behaviors can you teach with just one chair? They can get up on the chair, go around the chair, go under the chair….Then you can chain each trick together. Jump over the broomstick, go around the counter, jump on to the chair. A mini agility course and you didn’t have to buy a thing!
3. Ten for ten: All you need to play this game with your dog is one minute and ten treats. Ask your dog for a behavior, like sit or down. If they do it, they get a treat. If they don’t, quietly slide one treat over in to a separate pile. Don’t let them know – this is just a way for you to keep track of how many behaviors they get right. Ask for another behavior and for each success, they get a treat. At the end of ten, count how many treats are left and then give the remaining treats to your dog. Can you improve your score next time? Note: Your dog doesn’t have to know ten behaviors to play this game. One behavior will do!
Bonus: Change your body position each time you request a behavior. Can your dog sit if you’re kneeling? Lay down if you’re standing on one foot? You might be surprised!
The first day of spring is March 20th!