Updated: Apr 1
Is your dog bored? Are you bored? Maybe you're bored and good deal stressed right now. I know I am.
Well, one of things that can help you during this quarantine/lockdown is to train your dog. After all, you're stuck together right?
And here's the great thing about dog training: if you use gentle methods, it can actually strengthen the bond between you and your pup.
It will also give your dog some much needed mental stimulation. Many bored dogs will get into mischief. They will find something to amuse themselves unless you help them out by doing something constructive. Come to think of it, humans tend to do this as well. (Pardon me, while I check if there is any ice cream left in the freezer. Be back in a second...) And your dog will actually feel better overall if he does something that gets him a reward. So here are a few games you can play:
1.) Hide-n-seek - This one is a classic but I'm surprised how few people do it. It's simple. Run (or move quickly) into the bedroom and hide behind the door. If your dog doesn't follow you, call them. When they find you, say "You found me! Good girl!" and give lots of pets. Now that you've got your dog engaged, run into the bathroom and hide. Repeat "You found me! Good girl!" with lots of love. Do this two or three more times. You don't want to overdo it or they might lose focus or enjoyment from the game. Do this game every few days with different hiding spots to keep your dog interested.
2.) Scavenger hunt - Hide treats around the house for your dog to find. Terriers especially tend to love this game. The first time you play this, it's better to put the goodies in plain site. If they have trouble finding the treat, you can help by pointing to it until they understand the game. Always give some verbal praise when they find each bit.
3.)The Cup Game - Place three plastic cups on the floor. This works best on hardwood or tile. The carpet can be difficult. Put a treat under one of the cups. Switch the cups around and see if your dog can find the one hiding the treat. If your dog struggles too much with flipping the cup, give him some help. As always, tell him what a good boy he is for finding the right one.
4.) Commands, commands, commands! - There are a gazillion (actual figure) resources online for teaching new commands to your pup and yes, this counts as mental stimulation. This is also a great time to brush up on those recall skills. I've yet to meet a dog in my years of dog training who didn't need a refresher on the "Come" command. Go into the other room say "Rufus, come!" loudly and in a pleasant voice. When he gets there, reward with a treat or his favorite toy and lots of praise. Practice this a couple times a day, every day for really good results.