Here are some ideas for keeping stimulated and occupied during this difficult period. Download it here if you would like to print it off (in Windows you will need to right click it, “save as” to your computer then open it and print as usual.)
1.‘FIND IT’ Game.
If your dog is food motivated then use some really tasty treats, if your dog is toy motivated then use their favourite toy for this game. Start with letting your dog see what you are doing, hide either the treat or toy not too far away, give your dog a command such as ‘find it’ and let them find the treat or toy. Repeat the exercise so that the dog cannot see where you are hiding the treat or toy, some dogs take a while to grasp the idea and they will look to you for visual clues before they begin to use their fantastic sense of smell. You can play this game both indoors and outdoors, make it as difficult as you can to challenge your dog and always remember to give lots of verbal praise once your dog has found their treat or toy.
2.‘WHICH HAND’ Game.
This is a great starter game for dogs who are new to nose and scent work. Placing a tasty treat in one hand, hold out both hands towards your dog in fist shape, you can use the command ‘find it’ and once the dog politely indicates which hand the treat is in, turn your fist over and release the treat for the dog to eat, giving lots of verbal praise. If your dog mouths or claws you, do not release the treat as you do not want to reward this behaviour, try using a ‘gently’ command and try again.
3.‘NAME THE TOY’ Game.
Studies have proven that dogs have the capability to learn over 200 words. Start this game by choosing your dogs favourite toy, initiate a game and keep using the toys name, chose a different toy and repeat the exercise by playing a new game and using a different name for this toy. Some dogs will grasp this game quicker than others, be patient and keep repeating the exercise. Eventually you can place several toys in front of your dog and they will recognise them by name, you could use the find it command followed by the toys name, give lots of verbal praise as your dog shows an interest in the correct toy.
Line up three cups or beakers and let your dog see you place a tasty treat under one of the cups, use a ‘find it’ command and let your dog move towards the cup with the treat underneath, lift up the cup and let your dog eat the treat, giving lots of verbal praise at the same time. Repeat this exercise several times before you make it more difficult to make sure your dog has grasped the idea of the game. You can try placing the treat underneath a different cup and letting your dog see, then repeat without your dog seeing, you can also move the cups around too – make it as difficult as you can to challenge your dog.