Things to with your dog while in self-isolation due to Covid-19
Now that we have a solid relationship with our dogs (see https://www.lookafteryourdog.co.uk/blog/rules-and-discipline_102 and https://www.lookafteryourdog.co.uk/blog/building-trust-and-respect_109 ) we can start to teach them how to do fun things that are win, win for the dog. The human is happy and having a good time, the dog feels safe and comfortable in their presence and is learning something that will benefit it and lead to a reward.
One fun activity with a useful outcome is "find it" You want to teach your dog to become a sniffer dog and learn how to really use their nose. This will occupy your dog and drain energy through mental stimulation and create a bond between you and your dog and also teach a skill that could save you money in lost toys, car keys etc.
Firstly, have someone hold your dog or tether them safely to something that won't be damaged or give way. Show them and allow them to smell that you have food, I would suggest some of their daily allowance so they don't get fat and have to work for their meal. Go out into the garden and scatter the food onto the ground and return to the dog. Show them your empty hand and let them smell it and then say in an excited voice "find it." Immediately let the dog free and encourage them to go to where you scattered the food and watch them sniff it out. Don't be surprised if you see your dog running around and missing it, this is often because they have become used to using their eyes and not their nose.
If they struggle, go to the food and point to the ground and encourage them to investigate and praise when they find it. Repeat the game no more than 3 to 5 times in one session and end on a positive note.
Each day you can add more difficulty to the game by scattering the food further and the better they get, the more you can extend it. After a few days, you can start to put food off the ground, or onto objects, so that your dog has to spend longer and longer sniffing it out.
The peak of this game, is to get to the point where you can go out into the garden with your dog out of sight and hide food all around the garden and in more and more complicated places, like in a recess in a tree trunk off the ground at nose height, or on a fence panel slat so they have to really hone in. Eventually you will see the effect that the wind has on the scent and your dog moving in and out of the scent pattern to try to target the source.
If your dog is toy orientated, you can replace the food with a toy and hide it in a different spot each time so the dog has to find it before you can play tug or throw it again. (I'll do a blog on how to get your dog to play with a toy later)
This game can be taken to the park and used with the toy, say a ball on a rope, being thrown into long grass while the dog is restrained and then released to "find it." Always ensure that you don't get too advanced too soon by throwing the toy into a place where your dog isn't skilled enough to find it, thus killing the game. Start near and progress to the point where you can throw it as far as you can into a spot that you mark and then turn the dog around 360 degrees before releasing them to go "find it" without them knowing where it is. In this way they will spend a lot of time and energy hunting for it and you will make the walks easier for yourself and also drain far more energy so that your dog will go home tired. Always remember, a tired dog is a good dog!
I used to leave my police dog Max in the car after showing him I had his ball on a rope and walkaway into the park to place it, or just launch it into long grass some distance away. Using the wind blowing towards you from where the ball lands, I would open the car and excitedly say "find it" and watch him cover every blade of the area we were in until he found it.
This game builds your relationship and creates an energy around the toy which can be used for other training and fun things you can do with your dog which I will post later.
Please don't do what I always have done and get too near trees, or prickly bushes and then launch the toy either 30 foot up a tree or in the middle of the bush. I have spent a fortune in my time replacing balls on a rope which are probably still in Sutton park to this day.
Any questions or issues with your dog that you want answering, please feel free to get in touch using any of the methods on the contact page at https://www.lookafteryourdog.co.uk/contact-us and I would be happy to try and help.
If you are local to Sutton Coldfield, you might consider your dog coming to the Lookafteryourdog Daycare Centre, where your dog can run, play and socialise with other dogs and drain lots of energy while having fun. Doggy Daycare in Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield, near to junction 9 M42.
If you need your dog looking after when you go away, please consider Lookafteryourdog home dog boarding service. Local home dog boarders near to you. Trusted, vetted and reliable dog lovers waiting to care for your dog now. Home from home dog boarding for your dog in the Midlands, including Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Lichfield, Birmingham and Solihull. Sussex, including Brighton, Hove, Shoreham, Lewes and more