I was interviewed today by a journalist who is writing an article about keeping dogs happy by keeping them busy.
Just yesterday I posted about how I wrapped their Kong's in paper bags and let them shred the bags to get to the goodie-filled Kong.
I thought I'd post a few more ideas here today, since they are fresh in my mind from my interview.
Mix Up the Walking Route
Instead of taking the same old path when out for a walk, mix it up. Go the opposite way, or take a new route. Try a hike along the edge of the woods to give your dog the opportunity to smell new smells. Or, better yet, go wherever your dog wants to go — it's his walk, after all! Sometimes I let Tango decide where we're going and at what pace. Sometimes he likes to sniff a lot, other times he passes right by fire hydrants. But it's his walk, I like letting him set the pace.
Or if you regularly walk wooded trails, go out of your way to find downed trees and see if you can get your dog to jump over them. Or walk under them. Or, if they're big enough, to walk on them like a balance beam! You may need to do it first to show your dog how to do it.
Create Food Dispensing Toys
There's no need to spend any money at all to make cool toys your dog will love! Save your empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls. Put a few treats inside and then fold and twist the roll closed. Give the roll to your dog and let him at it! Or better yet, stuff a few of them with food, put them all inside a cardboard box and let your dog figure out how to get the box lid open! He'll have to figure out how to get the box open and then shred the toilet paper rolls to get to the goodies!
Other Homemade Toys
Use plastic or paper cups and play "the shell game" with your dog. Put a yummy treat under one of the cups, shift them around so your dog doesn't have a visual clue, and let your dog use his nose to find the goodie. As your dog gets better at this, use more cups!
Build Your Own Obstacle Course
Use kitchen chairs lined up to make a narrow "hallway" for your dog. Toss some treats down the "hallway" to get your dog accustomed to going through the narrow space. Once your dog is good at that, drape a blanket over the chairs to create a tunnel!
Put a ladder flat on the ground and have your dog step over each rung. This is a good exercise for teaching your dog hind-end awareness.
Find a large (2' x 2') plywood board and wrap it with a no-slide rug pad (for traction). Then ball up a hand towel and put it directly in the middle under the board. You've created a wobble board! Now put a treat or two on the board and encourage your dog to step onto the wobble board. With practice, your dog might just become a well-balanced dog! (Pun intended!)
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