Too Hot to Trot
We've all seen the warnings about not walking dogs on hot sidewalks and keeping outings short for preventing heat stroke. So what's a dog walker to do? Dogs still need exercise. During the dog days of summer, let's tap into a dog's brain power. Mental exercise is an underutilized and powerful form of enrichment. It can tire dogs out as much as, if not more than, a walk! After a quick potty break, here are some indoor activities to try:
Hide treats or kibble around the home for these Olympic sniffers to hunt for! Want to make it more difficult? Ask the dog to stay while you hide the treats before sending them to search. Time them, are they getting faster? The same can be done with toys and tennis balls.
Most dogs know how to touch a hand with their nose. Wondering if a dog knows "touch"? Say "touch", present your open hand held sideways, and when the dog's nose touches your hand, say "yes"' and feed the dog. Play tag by moving away and asking the dog to touch your hand.
Play tug indoors, being careful to move the toy side-to-side and not up and down (moving the tug toy up and down could cause neck injury). Introduce some impulse control by asking the dog to sit or lay down before engaging in a tug session. How long can the dog wait in a sit or down before being invited to play tug? Keep an impulse control log!
Hide and Seek
Ask the dog to stay while you hide. Call the dog and reward him with play or treats when he finds you.
Many dog owners keep food puzzles in the freezer stuffed and ready to serve. If not, ask if you can bring food puzzles with you. Use an appropriate cleaning wipe to clean the puzzles between dogs. You can even make a puzzle out of household items. For example, place treats or kibble inside of a muffin tin. Next, place tennis balls or toys on top of the treats. The dog now has to solve the case of the disappearing treats. You can also put treats inside of an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll. Next, place those rolls inside of a cereal box, then inside of a bigger box. You've now created your own search and rescue rubble pile! Another idea is placing treats inside a towel and rolling the towel up. Doggie burrito! Make sure the dogs don't ingest any non-food items.
Bobbing for Treats & Toys
Fill a baby pool with water and toss tennis balls, stuffable food puzzles, and treats inside. Dogs can choose the toys and treats that float or dive their heads underwater. Keeps the paws cool and the mind engaged. And, of course, there is always lounging in the pool or enjoying a good splash.
We hope that you and the dogs enjoy these mental enrichment activities. Let us know which games you and the dogs like best!