When was the last time you played with your dog? I’m talking about REAL play, not just a quick game of tug because they ran off with your sock.
According to Albert Einstein, play is the highest form of research, so shall we study with canine besties? Play isn’t just something to do because it benefits our dog, it’s something the benefits us too and it enhances the relationship we have with our dog. How’s that for a win-win?
Now, it wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t implement a couple of rules to begin with!
- If you’re choosing high energy games, make sure you’re playing on a non-slip surface; we don’t want an emergency visit to the vet… or A&E.
- When you’ve finished playing, make sure you’re ready with a calm ‘finished’ cue and you put the toys/treats away. We don’t want you & your dog getting over excited!
The fun comes from the games being interactive, so you have to be 100% involved. No phones, no taking pics, no TV on in the background. This is time for you and dog to enjoy each other’s company.
Your dog deserves your undivided attention and you deserve some time out, the opportunity to be present and to flood your system with positive emotions. When that happens, you activate the learning centres in your brain, so prepare to have your best ideas, a ‘eureka’ moment or the sudden ability to process what has been going on throughout the day. You’ll have your dog to thank for that.
Here is one idea for you and your dog to get you started, so make the time to PLAY:
Find It… Find It… Find It…
- Scent work is something your dog will love and they need you to help get them started, at least, that is what they’ll let you think.
- Start with small pieces of food.
- Ask your dog to sit & let her/him sniff the food (in a closed hand so (s)he doesn’t try and eat it).
- While (s)he’s sitting hide a couple of pieces of food somewhere you’re happy for her/him to be. It’s a good game to do in the garden!
- Release your dog from the sit by saying ‘find it’ and make it fun… be fully engaged and enjoy yourself.
- Keep repeating ‘find it, find it’ as your dog is searching for the food… a little bit like the ‘
hot / cold’ game, as (s)he gets closer make the cue more excited and if (s)he’s not going towards it, ease off the ‘find it’ cue. Basically, the closer your dog gets to the treat, the more excited you get.
- When (s)he has found all the treats, call her/him to you and give her/him lots of fuss and say ‘finished’ so (s)he knows the game is over… and then use your release cue (‘go on then’ is the one we use and if you have any questions on that, let me know).
- You can develop this game by making things harder to find, changing the thing you’d like your dog to find, increasing the distance between the items or hiding them in different places.
Let me know how you get on!