With half the United States covered in snow, it is safe to assume—winter has arrived. Some breeds are made for the cold and would prefer to romp in the icy drifts for hours on end. There are dogs that would rather stay inside under warm blankets, lapping up hot toddy’s all day. It is strongly encouraged by most experts for dogs to get daily exercise, both physical and mental. Is it possible to coax a dog from comfortable warmth to blustery cold just to get a walk in? Exercise comes in all forms and it is possible to shake a dog’s sillies out without subjecting them to the Polar Vortex.
All dogs have a superior sense of smell; most dogs don’t utilize their sniffers enough. This game is a good way to remind a dog to sniff things out. It also serves as a great mental exercise. Hide a “Top Shelf” treat something highly prized they don’t get often. It can be food, a toy, something to chase. Begin with three containers, hide the treat under one without the dog seeing, and shuffle them around. Call the dog over and encourage him to find it. When the dog finds the treat, praise wildly and let them eat or play with the prize. When the dog gets the hang of the game, add more containers to increase the challenge. Begin marking the training with a “find it” or something similar. Using a command will broaden the game to hide and seek. The treat may be hidden anywhere and the dog will know it’s time to hunt for it.
Fun Training Ideas
The dog may have mastered a note-worthy high five, or can balance a treat on his nose waiting for the command to “grab it” (If not, these are great party tricks) but has he learned “Over, Under, Through”? Using a stool, chair or table and a bunch of tasty, high value soft treats its time to begin utilizing that pent up energy. Make sure the treats are small, the dog will be eating several of them. Treat lure the dog (hold the treat just out of reach, guiding him where you want) and add a vocal command to go “over”, “under”, “around” and “through” every object in the house.
Now that the dog has mastered, “Over, Under, Through” and is getting the hang of scent training, it’s time to set up an obstacle course. It can be a little one in the living room, or a large one encompassing the whole house (Stairs are excellent energy dispensers). The treats are given at the end of the course when the dog finds the hidden treasure.
There are days walks are not an option. Twenty minutes of shaking the sillies out may save some owner hours of frustration. Whether a person plays a simple game of fetch from the couch or sets up an elaborate three story obstacle course, exercise will curb any mischievous tendencies that often rise out of boredom.