Training Game 1.3

Up & Down – pacifying and energising activities for dogs

To really benefit from enrichment and entertainment, dogs need both pacifying and energising activities – if we bring them up (energising) we also need to bring them down (pacifying) again.

This can be applied in real life too, and not just in games. If your dog gets particularly excited by something such as the doorbell or seeing another dog, make sure to give him the opportunity to engage in a pacifying activity afterwards to help him calm again.

Use your dog’s regular food for pacifying and energising activities in fun kibble games:

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Today’s Games

We have a training challenge for you today (and tomorrow)!

Time Allowance: 

Each game will take 30 seconds to 10 minutes depending on which games you choose.
Your dog will be doing lots of the work!

Family Participation:

Children will enjoy preparing some of these games but please take care – it’s not recommended that your dog associate high activity and excitement with children so best choose games that the kids can participate in carefully.
Just ask us if you need help!

Thursday’s Games:

Today choose at least one energising activity and one pacifying activity that you and your dog will enjoy.

Play with your dog:

  • 1-2 minute pacifying activity

followed by…

  • 30 second energising activity

followed by…

  • 1-2 minute pacifying activity

Have a few rounds of that sequence today (always beginning and ending with pacifying activities) – be creative, mix and match activities and time it so that pacifying activities coincide with your natural settling routines e.g. family dinner time, watching TV.

Friday’s Games:

Beginner Level ideas:

  • repeat Thursday’s game (I play this one with my dog every day!)
  • bring a yummy lined (frozen) Kong toy or chew on your walk today and give to your dog about halfway through in a calm and low-distraction place; settle for about ten minutes (check your phone, bring a book…) – take a break!
    It’s a good idea to provide your dog with a pacifying activity after your walk too.

Advanced Level ideas:

  • teach your dog to start and stop your favourite game on cue – have an obedience break of at least two behaviours
  • play jazz up/settle down:
    Get your dog all excited and wound up for a five count.
    Ask your dog to lie down or settle and be quiet.
    Once your dog is quiet, get him all wound up again.
    Have an assistant (the kids might love this job!) time how long it takes for the dog to settle.
    Repeat – record your improving times.

Pacifying

When working on pacifying activities use your dog’s regular food to avoid too much excitement.

Lapping & chewing
are calming for dogs and a great (and more acceptable) outlet for destructive behaviours.

Providing your dog with a stuffed or lined chew toy can encourage him to settle, lap and chew so helping him to relax too.
Of course we are big fans of Kong toys!

Simply lining a Kong toy with something yummy and freezing it can be a great way of keeping your dog busy and chilled, easily.

Make a homemade pacifier for your dog; and it makes a great summer treat too:

  • line a lunchbox with a plastic bag or film
  • add some food, treats, chews to the lunchbox
  • add water or low-salt stock
  • freeze
  • turn it out but don’t give to your dog if he is already hot or cold

 

Choose chews for your dog carefully and know your dog’s chewing style. Your dog chewing anything may be potentially harmful in a particular situation so be aware of ways to reduce the risks.

It’s never a good idea to give your dog cooked bones or very hard bone (e.g. weight bearing bone, heavy antlers etc.) as these can cause damage either when ingested or during chewing to teeth.

Natural chews are generally best but always check and monitor their condition. Look for signs of splitting or splintering, and keep an eye on their size appropriate to your dog.
Chews such as gullets, ‘pizzles’ and scalp have become more widely available.

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Cheaper rawhide type chews can be dangerous if swallowed so if choosing rawhide look for chews that are constructed from one piece of hide, that are not bleached or coloured and keep a close eye on your dog as he chews them.

If in doubt, ask your qualified veterinary healthcare team before allowing your pet to chew!

Settle exercises will help to teach our dogs to take up a more relaxed position on cue, so as to help him chill out while you relax too.
Don’t worry, we will be working on settling and calming exercises during our program so you will have lots of practice.

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Self-control exercises help to boost your dog’s frustration tolerance and patience. Asking your dog to think first before acting will help him to calm himself in exciting situations.
We will be working on lots of these exercises during our program too.

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Energising

These are the easy ones – dogs are very good at getting excited! That means we have to work harder at teaching our dogs calming behaviours.
So, we will use these energising activities to help teach our dogs to calm too.

Chasing and catching food rewards is a great way of getting your dog activated and is perfect for rainy days when outdoor exercise may be limited.

Always work within your dog’s physical capabilities and take care of the sorts of surfaces you ask your dog to run, jump and turn on.

Games like Chase the Kibble, Catch the Kibble or Goalkeeping are simple and require very little activity on your part so are perfect if you are feeling under the weather.

If you have a fit dog, having them chase kibble or food rewards up and down the stairs can tire them quickly.

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Energising Food Dispensing Toys such as Kong Wobblers are some of our favourites.

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You can get lots of different variations too and most pet shops stock them.

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You can make your own too!

Cut a couple of holes in a Pringles container (or Bisto gravy granules or similar), add kibble or treats and tape on the lid.

Add kibble to a plastic bottle and seal up the lid. Cut a couple of holes along the body of the bottle.

Allow your dog to roll their puzzle to release the yummies.

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Practicing training exercises such as tricks and manners in short sessions each day gets valuable practice in while providing both physical and mental challenges.

And of course you will get lots of practice during this program!

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Toy play:

You can also introduce energising activities with toys. Games such as tug and fetch are great fun for both dogs and humans BUT if we are going to play games, there must be rules.

Rules help prevent some of the problems that can be associated with too much high-arousal, repetitive activity (see Tuesday’s post).

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Teach your dog the rules of these games first, so that the fun stays fun:

  • the game starts on cue only

Use a cue word or action that lets your dog know the game is going to start.
Rules that may be in place in ‘real life’ may not be in play during a game and other rules may be enforced so letting your dog know it’s time to play will reduce confusion.
This can also help to prevent your dog being frustrated or nagging at you to play.

  • the game ends on cue

Teach your dog to give up his toy on cue and end the game so life can go back to normal. This is a good time to provide your dog with a pacifying activity to reward him for ending the game and to help bring him back down from his excitement.

Teaching a ball-addict to give up a ball on cue can require some training:

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  • have lots of obedience breaks

When you first start teaching the rules of the game, have an obedience break after every ball-throw or 3-5 – count of tug.
Ask your dog for two or three obedience behaviours and then reward him with the opportunity to play again.

Teaching Tug (with rules) is an excellent way of improving your dog’s self control, responsiveness and having fun!

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  • dog touches human = game over

Define your rules in terms of what you find acceptable and then make sure to consistently have those rules in play during the game.

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Because play is exciting dogs can lose a little control so may grab at clothing or your hands, for example, they may jump up more than usual or bump into their human companion.
To keep excitement under control as much as possible it’s a good idea to be pretty strict early on and relax as appropriate as your dog improves.

Generally, it’s a good idea to end the game if your dog’s mouth catches your clothing or skin. Just stop playing, put the toy away and be very boring and still. Wait for your dog to calm a little, ask them for an obedience break and then start the game again.

Play for a shorter time and keep the action a little more low-key this time to help prevent your dog losing control again. As you practice more games-with-rules you will be able to increase the length of the fun part!

Remember, you are always training your dog – even when playing:

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Yay!

Today’s training games are certainly a little more challenging and you and your dog have done great!

Well done – the last plan of the week is coming on Saturday so be sure to let us know how you are getting on 🙂

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Clicks + Treats for our fab-followers

We have the best followers who are having lots of fun with their dogs!

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Check out some of the fun they have been having with our Train Your Dog Month games:

Truffs sniff sniff sniffing a dinner-trail:

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Riley’s super challenging sniffing course:

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and his puzzles:

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Sam hunts down his breakfast:

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George really gets into this tricky puzzle:

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And of course lots of pet owners are commenting too. Thank you all so much for participating and getting involved to help your dogs become better canine citizens!

Lots more to come so keep sharing the fun with us!

Training Game 1.2

Fun & Brain Games

Puzzles are our favourite games for dogs – really getting their brain-power working and challenging them is important to keep dogs happy and healthy.

Use your Training Mix for these puzzles but you can also use higher value treats if you set a great challenge – better pay, for harder work!
Build the challenge slowly to avoid frustration and the dog losing interest.

Before using any home-made puzzles check out this clip for some of our favourite puzzle ideas plus please read the safety guidelines at the start:

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I know, I know… but some important considerations to be aware of plus ideas for our favourite puzzles 🙂

Today’s Games


Time Allowance:

Each game will take you 2-10 minutes to set up – depending on the puzzles your choose.
Try a couple of these puzzles today.

Family Participation:
Fun for all the family – children will love constructing puzzles for dogs.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone while he works on his puzzle.

Top Tip for Today’s Games:

Give your dog a puzzle in a confined or smaller area. Things could get messy so it’s easier to clean up if the mess is restricted.

Remember, encourage your dog to move away from the puzzle before you start clean up!

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Stuffed Puzzles

You will need:

  • cardboard tube from e.g. toilet roll
  • crumpled paper e.g. newspaper, kitchen paper
  • paper e.g. newspaper, old wrapping paper
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • add a treat to a cardboard tube and squeeze the ends
  • set up as above and wrap loosely in old wrapping paper

Advanced Level ideas:

  • Add a treat to a cardboard tube, stuff the tube with crumpled kitchen roll or even newspaper. Wrap the tube in paper to make a Christmas Cracker.

Rolled Puzzles

You will need:

  • stiff cardboard, like a flap from a box
  • old tea towel
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • remove the flap from a box and spread it out flat; sprinkle some food on it and then roll it up

Advanced Level ideas:

  • sprinkle a tea towel with food and roll it up
  • for an extra challenge, slightly dampen the towel, roll up with food and freeze

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Precision Puzzles

You will need:

  • cardboard eggboxes
  • butter, yoghurt or cream cheese tubs with lids
  • crumpled paper
  • old wrapping paper
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • add some food to an eggbox and close over the lid, without fastening
  • add some food to a tub and place the lid on top, without pressing it down too hard

Advanced Level ideas:

  • add some food to an eggbox and close the lid – for an extra challenge wrap the eggbox in old wrapping paper
  • fill the tub with food and crumpled paper, close the lid tightly

Teasers

You will need:

  • muffin tin
  • cardboard tubes, tennis balls, disposable cups
  • tray, basket, box
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • place a food reward in each gap of an eggbox or muffin tin; cover each treat with a tennis ball, toilet roll tube or disposable cup

Advanced Level ideas:

  • sprinkle food on the base of the tray/basket/box and then fill the entire container with cardboard tubes standing up – pack it tightly to really challenge your dog

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Snuffle Puzzles

Use a soft ball with holes to make a snuffle ball. Check out our clip and listen for the snuffling:

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Really getting into puzzling your dog?  Make him a snuffle mat!

Thread lengths of t-shirt or fleece fabric through the gaps in a rubber doormat and distribute your dog’s meal throughout.

Busy Box

Fill a box with crumpled paper, add treats and close up the box. To make an even busier box, you can add that box to another box too.

Scent Puzzles

You will need:

  • towel, mat or blanket
  • some disposable cups or plastic tubs with or without lids (all the same)
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • sprinkle some food on the floor and cover with a towel/mat/blanket – let your dog see you
  • to advance this puzzle, hide the food under a mat when the dog isn’t present and then release him to search

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Advanced Level ideas:

  • line up three upturned cups or tubs with food underneath one; release your dog to search

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Bobbing for Kibble

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You will need:

  • a bowl, basin or kiddies paddling pool
  • water
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level idea:

  • toss some food in a bowl of very shallow water when your dog is watching – to increase the challenge remove the dog from the room before submerging the food

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Advanced Level idea:

  • toss some food in a container with deeper water – to increase the challenge remove the dog from the room before submerging the food

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Wohoo!

Another day over – well done!

Remember, you are only limited by your imagination so show off some of the puzzles you have made – we would love to see your ideas!

 

Is a tired dog really a good dog?

Well, yes and no….

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Dogs need a balance of physical and mental exercise to keep them healthy and so that they continue to be easy to live with. If we don’t provide both and in balanced proportions we could run into trouble…

Physical exercise causes stress on the body – not necessarily bad stress, but the body needs to adjust to compensate for activity, for example, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate and so on.

Please note that mental exercise can cause this too so we must be aware of balancing this within each physical or mental activity, not just broadly balancing physical and mental challenges.

Stress, at a body chemical level, causes the body to become wound up, to prepare for this exertion, to cope with the stressors.

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Look at your dog when they are physically exerting themselves…panting, tongue lolling, enlarged pupils, keenly focused on the ball (or whatever is the subject of their exertion)…maybe they jump up a little more than usual, maybe they mouth a little harder than normal…

When we push that physical exertion we can cause the dog to become more and more wound up – you may have made the observation that even after running around like a lunatic, your dog is still up for more even when you have had enough activity.

Where we might run into problems is with the excitement-addict…

Ever heard of the marathon runner who has become ‘addicted’ to the highs produced by exertion?
You will have certainly heard of so-called adrenaline junkies; canine excitement-addicts may experience this and want to put themselves in situations where they will hit those highs, over and over.

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Don’t despair – you’re in the right place…

A few things can help here:

  • introduce lots and lots and lots of calming breaks during activity to help bring your dog ‘down’ from the highs – once he’s calmer, reward with the opportunity for more fun
  • increase mental exercise to achieve better balance
  • teaching the dog to settle calmly by rewarding calm behaviour
  • look at the type, amount and suitability of physical exercise provided

A dog that is relaxing peacefully, can calm himself and bring himself down from the highs will have had lots of practice and guidance in this and will be living a balance of mental and physical challenges.

(Is your dog getting up to 18 hours of sleep each day?)

Too much of a good thing…?

How do we strike that balance between physical exercise and mental challenge to ensure our dog’s happiness and health?

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The amount of physical and mental exercise that is healthy, will depend on many factors, including:

  • the dog’s age and neuter status
  • the dog’s breed, type and conformation
  • the dog’s current fitness and overall health
  • the dog’s temperament and abilities, both physical and cognitive
  • the dog’s current ability to cope with excitement and stress
  • the season and weather
  • availability of suitable facilities for exercise
  • local laws and restrictions relating to dogs
  • the owner’s ability to exercise the dog
  • the owner’s goals for the dog, for example, is he to become a competitive sports dog?

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Considerations for the challenges we present to puppies and young dogs are some of the most important.

Generally the rule for young and growing dogs is to allow them to decide how much exercise they take – allow them to potter, to sniff and to wander.

We often recommend to provide about 5 minutes per month (age) of structured exercise, such as leash walks.
Therefore for example, a 12 week old puppy should have about 15-20 minutes of structured exercise per day.

On top of those important concerns, mental exercise, downtime and appropriate challenges are vital for puppies and young dogs. Adolescent dogs particularly will benefit from extra attention to teaching them how to calm themselves and cope with excitement.

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Puppy Culture from trainer and breeder Jane Messineo Lindquist has some really great resources on all aspects of puppy rearing, and this fantastic area on Appropriate Exercise.

It’s often the case that most petslive too sedentary a lifestyle so in many situations more and better physical exercise is required. But, if we bring in physical exercise we also need to put lots of effort into mental exercise too.

For some great ideas on introducing lots of mental challenges, without adding too much more physical exertion check out the book No Walks, No Worries (available from Amazon.co.uk) by Sian Ryan.

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Look no further, you’re in the right place – our Train Your Dog Month 2016 program offers lots of ideas and guidance so that you can help your dog develop skills vital to becoming a pleasure to share your life with.

Training Game 1.1

The Dog’s Nose Knows – sniffing games for dogs

 

Did you know that domestic dogs have evolved from scavenging animals? That probably explains some of your dog’s behaviour!

Instead of your dog getting his scavenging-jollies by counter surfing and stealing, let’s give them an acceptable outlet for this behaviour with our scavenger-hunting games.

Today’s Games

Time Allowance:
Each game will take you 30 seconds – 3 minutes to set up. Your dog does all the work!
Try two or three of these games today and tomorrow.

Family Participation:
Fun for all the family – children will love to scatter food (it’s just like making a mess that someone else cleans up!), hide food and set up sniffing courses.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone while he works on his puzzle.

Top Tip for Today’s Games: 

Add a cue to these games so that you can ask your dog to search. Say “go find it” just before releasing your dog to search.

Scatter Feeding

The easiest way to feed your dog, while still providing them with a challenge, is to have them sniff out every piece of food.

Take your dog’s food and instead of feeding them from the bowl toss their food on the ground.

Beginner Level ideas:

  • scatter your dog’s food on hard flooring
  • scatter your dog’s food while he’s watching

Advanced Level ideas: 

  • scatter your dog’s food in grass
  • scatter your dog’s food when they are in another room, then release them to sniff out each piece

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Dinner Trails & Scavenger Hunts

A slightly more formal version of scatter feeding involves setting up specific hiding places for your dog’s food.

Beginner Level ideas: 

  • hide food in plain sight or in easy to spot places
  • set up a dinner-trail in the house, garden or on your walking route – this is a great game for puppies!
    Drop a piece of your dog’s dinner every couple of steps you take. Go back and get your dog and lead them (make sure to let them find each piece though!) along the trail so that they can find each piece as they follow you.

Advanced Level ideas:

  • hide stuffed or lined Kong toys (piles of kibble or frozen wet food if you don’t have Kong toys) in increasingly tricky places

Check out our video guide to simple Kong stuffing:

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Sniffing Course

You and your dog are probably hooked on scent games by now – YAY!

How about setting up a sniffing-games course? Use various household items such as boxes, overturned chairs, cones, plant pots or dog beds.

Set up each course while your dog is in another room and then release them to search.

Beginner Level ideas:

  • hide food in one spot in each course and make sure that there is nothing in front of it or over it that may block the scent reaching your dog

Advanced Level ideas:

  • have a number of hides in each course
  • make the courses trickier as your dog improves by placing hides behind and under parts of your course

Sniffing games are perfect for rainy days or for dogs on limited activity!

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Well done!

That’s Day 1 done – introduce these games today and tomorrow and we will have new games for you and your dog on Wednesday.

Now, don’t forget to share how you are getting on – we would love to see video and pics of your dogs sniffing out their dinner and see how you have come up with ways to challenge your dog’s nose!

Go on, show off….

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