Did you know that domestic dogs have evolved from scavenging animals? That probably explains some of your dog’s behaviour!
Instead of your dog getting his scavenging-jollies by counter surfing and stealing, let’s give them an acceptable outlet for this behaviour with our scavenger-hunting games.
Each game will take you 30 seconds – 3 minutes to set up. Your dog does all the work!
Try two or three of these games today and tomorrow.
Fun for all the family – children will love to scatter food (it’s just like making a mess that someone else cleans up!), hide food and set up sniffing courses.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone while he works on his puzzle.
Top Tip for Today’s Games:
Add a cue to these games so that you can ask your dog to search. Say “go find it” just before releasing your dog to search.
The easiest way to feed your dog, while still providing them with a challenge, is to have them sniff out every piece of food.
Take your dog’s food and instead of feeding them from the bowl toss their food on the ground.
Beginner Level ideas:
scatter your dog’s food on hard flooring
scatter your dog’s food while he’s watching
Advanced Level ideas:
scatter your dog’s food in grass
scatter your dog’s food when they are in another room, then release them to sniff out each piece
A slightly more formal version of scatter feeding involves setting up specific hiding places for your dog’s food.
Beginner Level ideas:
hide food in plain sight or in easy to spot places
set up a dinner-trail in the house, garden or on your walking route – this is a great game for puppies!
Drop a piece of your dog’s dinner every couple of steps you take. Go back and get your dog and lead them (make sure to let them find each piece though!) along the trail so that they can find each piece as they follow you.
Advanced Level ideas:
hide stuffed or lined Kong toys (piles of kibble or frozen wet food if you don’t have Kong toys) in increasingly tricky places
Check out our video guide to simple Kong stuffing:
Animals naturally want to work for food – when we feed them for free they may not have acceptable outlets for those feeding behaviours that they don’t need for finding food…
Week 1 – Earning Your Keep
Dogs come with lots of behaviours that are inbuilt; most of these behaviours are in conflict with what we humans like…
Providing your dog with entertainment and enrichment will allow your dog to carry out these behaviours in a more appropriate and acceptable way.
So, this week we are going to work on teaching your dog to earn their keep by working for their food (food is currency to dogs!). This way your dog gets lots of opportunities to carry out doggie behaviours (without annoying the humans!) and you get plenty of time to relax while your dog does the work (this is lazy dog training)!
Dogs with plenty of mental exercise (along with appropriate physical exercise) are happy, healthy and a joy to live with.
Week 1 Training Games
using your dog’s regular food for fun & brain-games
the nose knows – sniffing games for dogs
fun & brain games – puzzles for dogs
pacifying & energising enrichment activities
tricks for treats
What’s my dog learning?
I have outlets for doggie behaviour so don’t feel bored and am less likely to develop unwanted behaviour.
I am content from both physical and mental exercise so can settle myself calmly.
My problem solving abilities are improving so my confidence will grow and I will become easier to teach.
I can occupy myself with my own activities.
Games with rules teach me responsiveness, even when excited.
Balancing both physical and mental exercise can prevent more serious behaviour issues developing
See? This is more than just fun and games…
You can download a more printer friendly, but abbreviated, version of the Week 1 plan here.
Wohoo! Let’s start preparing for the start of our plans on Monday – here’s your first task:
Make a Training Mix
Rather than introduce lots and lots of treats for our training program, we will use our dogs’ regular, everyday food in our games.
But, no more getting their food for free – this program will encourage your dog to work for each piece!
No matter what you feed your dog you will be able to use this food, rather than in a food bowl, for many of our games over the entire program.
Here’s our video showing you how to use your dog’s regular food for training games:
Dry food e.g. kibble:
measure out your dog’s daily rations and place in a lunchbox or bag
(remove about 5-10% if you go with the higher-cal option below)
Option 1 (low-cal)
add a chunk of your dog’s favourite such as tripe (dried or frozen), chicken, ham, hotdog or cheese
(your dog won’t get to eat this treat)
Option 2 (higher-cal)
add a little of your dog’s favourite treats, chopped up small (third fingernail size)
seal the bag or lunchbox and mix the contents
leave in the fridge overnight
next day, everything will smell yummier!
Wet food e.g. raw, tinned:
measure out your dog’s meal as normal into a container
if you feed whole organs, cut muscle meat into small pieces or mince the meat
stuff food into a Kong toy or similar – this can be hidden for sniffing games or offered to the dog to lick a bit as a reward during training games
administer wet food on a wooden spoon as a training reward
freeze spoonfuls of wet food in an icecube tray – little frozen nuggets of wet food are great for sniffing games and energising games
If you are worried about handling wet or raw food during training exercises, keep a pair of surgical gloves with your training-mix so that you are always ready to reward desired behaviour.
You’ve signed up and are getting ready, but what’s this training program really about?
Our Train Your Dog Month 2016 program is all about foundation skills – these are the ones that you will build your continued training upon.
So often we go straight into the sexy stuff without paying attention to the training that supports our dog’s life long learning – that can be why our training sometimes crumbles and collapses.
Spending a little time (remember, just ten minutes each day) putting these basics in place provides you and your dog the perfect foundation on which to build.
As important as these exercises and having the right foundation are, it isn’t a magic-wand!
Just signing up for our program will not ‘fix’ any behaviour problems you might experience with your dog. But, the exercises we will introduce will help work on some of the root causes to training and behaviour issues from pulling on lead to aggression.
Each week is themed and we will post three-to-five different exercises for you to work on during that week.
Every couple of days or so, we will post a new exercise with options to suit you at various stages of training. We will provide video and printer friendly versions too so that everyone can participate.
Remember, just ten minutes a day but if you want to do more that’s OK too!
Be ready for your first plan on Monday and Happy 2016!
Ringing in 2016 means it’s time to start getting ready for this month’s dog training challenge!
What do I need for Week 1?
your dog’s regular food
some rewards, treats and chews
lunchbox and resealable plastic bags e.g. ZipLoc
lead, collar, ID tag, harness, long line – if you plan to practice some of our exercises in public places or in unsecured areas
Kong toys or similar (if you don’t have a Kong toy for your dog please consider getting at least one – they are the best dog toys and we love them!)
treat activity balls, Kong Wobbler, Dog Pyramid or similar (don’t worry if you don’t have these – we will look at alternatives too)
household items such as boxes, plant pots, doormats, tubs, muffin or cupcake pan etc.
disposable items such as cardboard tubes (from toilet rolls or kitchen rolls), wrapping paper, Pringles or similar can, lunchboxes, empty butter, yoghurt or cream cheese tubs with lids, egg boxes, tea towels, cardboard, plastic bottles etc.
Sounds weird? Well, we’re going to keep you guessing for a couple more days!