Lockdown is getting boring now, but necessary. If we follow the rules completely we can walk the dog or dogs for an hour a day. How can we make the best of that time and the other 23 whilst staying sane and keeping our dogs sane too. Let’s take a look at 5 simple fun things we can do with our dogs during lockdown.
Hand targeting – this is great fun to get you both moving and animated. Pop something nice on the palm of your hand and have some tiny treats in the other hand, at the moment your dog’s nose touches one hand say “yes” and give them a treat. Practice this lots and before you know it your dog will be following your palm anywhere you move it to. You can then practice fast movements, slow movements, balancing and turning.
Health checking – It’s a great time to slowly get your dog used to being checked all over. The aim is calmness and if your dog tenses up you are going too quickly. Reward calmness with tiny treats and your “yes” each time you progress a bit further. Check pads, teeth, your dog’s body for lumps, ears for grime and genitals for irritations. This extra time will help you to turn around your dog’s handling experiences for their lifetime.
Recycle the recycling – pop your dog’s food in packaging, old papers, old boxes and let them get it out. This is natural behaviour, because our dogs are genuine foragers and scavengers. So rather than present them with a meal on a plate – give them the chance to earn it. It’s vital if you do this that you make the task just within your dog’s ability. Otherwise food that they can’t get to will knock their confidence and self-belief. So only make it as big a task as your dog can handle, then make it more advanced as their confidence and competence grows.
Scentwork – scentwork is great fun. If you have a lawn you can throw your dog’s food all over that grass and let him pick his way around sniffing and finding it. If you don’t you can wrap food in towels all around the house so your dog can sniff out that food. You can also hide specific things in one place around the house and build your dog up to find them. Remember though, it’s all in the build.
Play – really play in your dog’s language. Skilled playing is like a dance and a game. We push and pull the game within the dog’s enjoyment level and confidence – and playing is as good for us as it is our dogs.