Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How To Fully Exercise Your Dog Part 2

Ok, so I was doing great posting consistently every week, then the holidays hit. As of today I think it's starting to wind down, so I'll be more consistent again. Please don't hate me too much for being a slacker.
At least my excuse for the delay in posting is pretty awesome- I was making matching pajamas for all my nieces & nephews and siblings for Christmas. 18 pairs. 
That is all.
A couple weeks ago we discussed the importance of providing both physical and mental exercise for your dog, especially in the winter when nobody wants to be outside. You can refer back to that for more on why, but suffice it to say that your dog needs mental and physical stimulation on a daily basis to stay happy and healthy. And to not drive you nuts.
Today, we discuss my favorite indoor games for you and your dog. Most of them provide a combination of mental and physical stimulation, so they are great for fully exercising and they are FUN for both of you. I've referenced these when I can, others are from clients, friends and family- but I'm pretty sure that none of them are truly my original idea. I'm not trying to get credit for these- just trying to share them. If you think you came up with this idea first- awesome! I hope you don't mind me sharing it with other doggie parents :)
As with all exercise, please consult you veterinarian and maybe your breeder for advice on exercise for your specific dog.

Stairway Fetch
It's literally as simple as it sounds. And as long as you don't mind a little extra wear and tear on your stairs, it can be kept up all winter long. Toss a ball (or other fun favorite toy that won't dent your walls when it bounces) up the stairs and let your dog fetch it and bring it back down the stairs for you to fetch it again. Guess what, this game can be played the other way too- you can toss the ball down the stairs and have your dog run up and down. This is a great cardiovascular workout, and if you have get good, you can get the ball into an upstairs room and your dog has get a bonus game of hide & seek. 

Hide & Seek
Holy cow, dog LOVE this game. It's easy, provides mental and physical stimulation and works on their recall and builds your bond with your dog AND it's fun! Sneak away from your dog when she isn't paying attention and hide behind a piece of furniture, a large appliance, behind the shower curtain and call her to you. Sound happy and excited and get more so as you hear your dog coming to you. When she gets to you, give lots of praise and petting and a treat if you have it... Then do it again! This is a great game for kids too- get the whole family involved!

Find It: 
The first stage of this game should be set up with you and your dog in a room, and you "hide" a piece of treat or favorite toy. Point to the hidden goodie and say "find it", encouraging her to get the treat. As your dog improves, try hiding multiple goodies while your dog is in a stay or wait position in the room with you. As she gets the hang of this, have her wait in another room as you hide the goodies, then bring her into the room and say "find it". The first time or two, you may need to point out some of the goodies, though try not to point them all out or she may become dependent on you to do so. The goal is for her to entertain herself for a bit as she hunts for goodies. Try this in different rooms, with different goodies, and with different people hiding different goodies- this gives her more fun stuff to smell!

Shaping Basics:
Shaping is used in dog training all the time, and it's super easy to start training.
You'll need a dog (preferably your own or at least one you have permission to be working with, otherwise, volunteer at a shelter and use this to make a dog more adoptable), some treats and probably a leash so the dog doesn't wander away.
Here are the instructions, straight from my Puppy Kindergarten curriculum:

Start with your dog sitting or standing and hold your hand, palm open, in front of your dog's nose (3-5 inches away) with your fingers pointed toward the wall.


Seriously, don't move your hand and don't say anything.

Your dog WILL move to touch your hand with their nose.

As soon as they do, say “touch” and give them the treat and provide praise. (If you're using a clicker, now's a great time to use it- click as soon as he touches your hand.

Do this 25 more times or so.  

As your dog gets better with this, try putting your hand in different positions.

Mistakes your dog may make:

Approaching your hand with an open mouth:

Move your hand away, saying “oops”, then offer your hand again

 Dog shies away from your hand:

Reward any movement towards your hand. As your dog gets better, wait until they touch your hand, even if it's brief. 
 As your dog improves, try having him touch other things- the wall, your foot, a beach ball or exercise ball (NOT a medicine ball, they are way too heavy!) There is an entire sport where dogs herd those exercise balls, it's really fun to teach and I'll talk about it more in a later post, but feel free to search the interwebs yourself in the meantime (like you weren't going to anyway!). It's called Treibball.

These are just my favorites, I'll share more with you over time, I promise.

And I'll stop being such a slacker, really. 
Happy Holidays, people and pups!

References: Play Together, Stay Together-Happy and Healthy Play Between People and Dogs, By Patricia McConnell and Karen B. London
Credit also goes to clients and other trainers who have shared their tips and tricks with me

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