Training Thursday: An Employed Dog Is A Happy Dog!

I agree that the common phrase, ‘an active dog is a happy dog’ is true too, but there’s more to consider than the daily walks we take with our dogs.

 

When we think of ‘exercise’, we tend to go to the default position of walks, no doubt including some off-lead running around time if that’s appropriate for our hound.

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have something to do, I can get quite miserable and snappy, even if I’ve been for a run. It’s ok, I have lots of projects to work on so I’m a pleasure and a joy to be around at the moment! If I don’t have a focus or a purpose, I’m lost.

I need a job to do. My dogs need jobs too.

They have so many skills, talents and natural abilities, but these don’t lend themselves to gainful self-employment. If they’re left to their own devices, their desire to chew, chase, dig, dissect and eat can lead to the destruction of furniture, incessant barking or the cats having to flee to an upstairs room.

These natural behaviours are often the very things that dog trainers are called upon to ‘solve’ as behavioural issues. They’re not issues, they’re DOGS!

It’s our job to employ our dogs. They need to work things out, to learn, to develop their skills and to be paid for a job well done.

Employment can involve:

  • Training a new cue, including tricks as let’s face it, every cue is a ‘trick’ to a dog.
  • Find it games where your dog is tasked with finding their treats or their favourite toy.
  • Food dispensing toys.
  • Puzzle toys, which are easy to create on a budget. You can start off with a baking tray, with the majority of sections containing a treat, and then put a tennis ball in each section. Or, get three cups and put a treat under one of them. See if your dog can figure out which cup the treat is under. This is an insight into evenings at HQ!
  • A digging pit in the garden with toys and treats buried in it.

This list will never be exhaustive and you can find 101 things to do with your dog in no time. You don’t need expensive toys and treats to occupy your dog! After a cheeky dominoes pizza recently, we used the empty box, put some treats in it and Mr Bear figured out how to get the treats out of the hole designed for the dip pot. This idea was stolen from an awesome trainer, Claire Staines!

Please try one (or, preferably more than one) of these things this week. Give your dog’s brain a workout and enjoy spending this time with them. You’ll enjoy it as much as they will!

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