Tag Archives: enrichment

The Puppy Sessions


We see lots of puppies and we want to see more puppies, and we want to see them earlier.

Waiting for your puppy to be finished his or her vaccinations or waiting until the nipping and the accidents and the chewing are driving you bonkers is too late to start your puppy’s education.

Book a puppy-session NOW and make sure that everyone gets off on the right paw!

What happens during a puppy session?

We talk about all the things that you can start to put in place so that puppy raising is easier and your puppy becomes a great, easy to live with, companion dog.

1. Social Experience

Not only must puppies know how to be dogs, but they must also know how to fit into human society – and that’s tough!


We emphasise:

  • socialisation is not about your puppy learning to greet, play with and love everyone
  • socialisation is about your puppy learning that other people, dogs, animals and related goings-on are so normal that they’re not even worth getting worked up about
  • socialisation is about ensuring puppy has mostly positive experiences in social interactions
  • socialisation is about puppy learning how to behave appropriately in social situations

We will teach you how to teach your dog to greet politely, to manage their excitement and to teach others how to greet your puppy appropriately so your puppy doesn’t become over-whelmed, and learns that social greetings are positive, enjoyable and safe.

How to use your hand-link-a-Kong to teach all this:


Teach puppy that people approaching makes a treat appear so that puppy learns that approaching humans are safe and so that puppy learns to focus on their own people when someone else is approaching:


Puppies must get to play with other safe, healthy and appropriate dogs and puppies too.

We emphasise:

  • puppy doesn’t get to greet and play with every dog they see
  • to play with other dogs, puppy must be calm and responsive
  • play sessions must be short
  • humans supervise and actively shape puppy play behaviour throughout
  • play will be interrupted regularly for re-focus and calm, down-time

Teach puppies to be comfortable with collar grabs so that they can be restrained when needed:



Off leash puppy activities must never be a free-for-all! 

2. Exposure & Experience

The world is a new, exciting and often scary place for puppies. As their new guide to the human-world, in which they will live, we want to gently and carefully expose them to all the things we want them to be able to cope with later on.

Think of the dog you want in two years time…you are preparing for that NOW!

We emphasise:

Hair dryers and vacuum cleaners don’t have to be scary, if they are introduced properly and early on:


While your puppy is on vaccination hold (and beyond):

  • play Follow Me! so that you puppy learns how to walk politely, without a lead, before you are going on walks



  • set up a couple of odd things everyday, in a new place in and around the house for puppy to explore

confidence course

Remember, when you start walking your puppy out and about, increase the size of their world very gradually (from the house to the street on the first day is plenty, and around local streets is lots for the first week) and take your time, stop with puppy and allow them to explore in their on time.

3. Mental Exercise

Puppies are active and inquisitive so let’s channel that energy, so it doesn’t become a people-problem and so that puppy is an active learner and problem solver.

We emphasise:

  • no food bowls for puppies!
  • training puppy throughout the day, working for their regular food


  • using their brains (and noses) to work out how to find food and toys


  • getting them hooked on chewing their chew toys and not your furniture, shoes or belongings


  • allowing puppies to try things out, to experience a little frustration and even stress, and recovery


And lots more ideas here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

4. Nipping & Bite Inhibition

All puppies do it, and most people are bothered by it.

Puppy nipping is important for puppies though so we put exercises in place to make sure puppies have an acceptable outlet for this behaviour, but preventing it from becoming to much trouble for people.

There are different schools of thought on this and lots of diverse advice.

We emphasise:

  • keeping interactions with puppy brief and low-key so puppy doesn’t become over-excited (they will often express that with mouthing and nipping)
  • making sure puppy has lots of down-time, settling and sleep (over tired puppies are like over tired toddlers…)
  • diverting puppy behaviour and using treats & toys so that we don’t need to restrain, physically manipulate or position puppy
  • redirecting teeth onto suitable toys
  • yelping and withdrawing for 5-10-count if we feel hard teeth
  • moving away from puppy 20-count timeout if they turn into a landshark
  • teaching puppies the rules of play with people
  • making sure puppies have lots of opportunities to play bitey-face games with other appropriate dogs



5. Management

You already know all the behaviours that puppy is going to do that you are not going to like – squealing when left alone, chewing your belongings, toileting in the wrong places, and that’s just for starters.

So, if you know they’re going to bother you, why are you allowing them to happen?! Prevention is key.

Never allow puppy to practice unwanted behaviour so that they never learn to establish unwanted behaviours.

We emphasise:

  • night-time training so puppy never develops distress at separation (prevents sleepless nights too!)
  • crate training for toilet training
  • crate training for settle training
  • crate training for self-control training
  • crate training chew-toy training
  • crate training for night-time training
  • …see where we are going with this…?


6. Passive Training

This is lazy training, and really effective too! Puppy isn’t doing the wrong things all the time so catch him doing the right behaviour and reward that with food rewards, toys, play, attention or access to things he wants.

We emphasise:

  • rewarding puppy any time you notice he’s quiet, he has four paws on the floor, he’s keeping the leash loose and he’s showing calm focus
  • rewarding polite behaviour


  • rewarding puppy when he’s doing nothing


  • using lots of different types of rewards

Teach your puppy how to be a good human trainer like here, here and here.

7. Parking your Puppy

More lazy dog training, while puppy learns to chill out and be calm.

We emphasise:

  • use a specific mat or bed so puppy learns that means it’s settle time
  • lapping and chewing on stuffed and lined Kongs help puppies relax


  • practicing parking and settling in lots of places, with your puppy’s calm-mat, will help puppy become a great companion who you can bring anywhere


8. Resource Guarding Prevention

It’s normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour (humans do it too!) so let’s set up our puppies so that they never feel the need to make people go away from them, when they have stuff.

We emphasise:

  • making sure puppies have their own place where they can eat, chew, play and hangout undisturbed
  • puppies learn that when they have stuff and people come near, awesome things happen



9. Handling

Puppies and dogs will be handled, sometimes in invasive ways, throughout their lives. Remember, anything we want in our dog in two years time, we need to start working on right now!

We emphasise:

  • gentle handling of puppy everyday


  • calming, massage helps to settle puppy
  • pairing handling and manipulation with yummy treats helps puppy to become comfortable with this in lots of situations


  • practicing at the vets and groomers too, before puppy needs it
  • giving puppies choice in how much and how far is enough




10. Toilet training

Toilet training requires time, patience, supervision and management.

We emphasise:

  • regular toilet breaks – every 1-2 hours during the day
  • more regular breaks after eating, drinking, napping, or any sort of excitement
  • clean up accidents with biological washing powder (with enzyme action)
  • supervise free puppies – if they have any accident it’s on you I’m afraid
  • don’t scold puppy – step up supervision!
  • free time is for empty puppies only – so crate puppy, supervise closely and only allow out and about after toileting
  • bring puppy to a toileting area and be boring – this is a business area, not for fun
  • calmly praise puppy while he goes, and reward with 3-5 high value food rewards once he’s done
  • then have a little game or fun interaction with puppy so that he doesn’t learn he is just ignored after appropriate toileting
  • have patience – we give children years for toilet training and most puppies will need months of structured toilet training before they are reliable


11. Obedience behaviours

The most important thing to understand here is that obedience behaviours can be taught at any time, but all the 1-10 stuff above MUST start NOW.

So, although we might introduce some obedience stuff, it’s not the main emphasis of your puppy’s early education at all.

Teach puppy to play tug, with rules, so that you are also teaching him some self-control and to give up items, even when excited:


Teach puppy to leave forbidden items by teaching him that “leave it” means to come away from that thing and reorient to his person:




Teach puppy that only polite, calm behaviour gets him what he wants:


12. Troubleshooting

We spend some time answering your questions and  developing a program that works best for your puppy, you and your family.

  • diet
  • parasite control
  • vet and groomer visits
  • grooming
  • neutering
  • training classes
  • great puppy resources
  • and all the other questions new puppy owners will have too…

And this is just the beginning of your’s and your puppy’s education…



Do you know someone with a new puppy or soon to get a new puppy, or even someone thinking about maybe considering a new puppy?

Let’s get puppy-ownership off to the best start with a puppy session!

Dinner-time should be fun/exercise/focus/training-time!

What does your dog learn while eating his dinner?

How to inhale a meal in record breaking time…?

…we need to talk…

Decker earns his meal by catching it, chasing it and sniffing it, and although this is certainly lots of fun, he’s also learning lots, such as, to choose his human over all the stuff in the park like dogs, other people, wildlife, smells and goings on, that his human is where the fun is, responsiveness is rewarding even when distracted and excited and boring kibble can be great!


Don’t waste these opportunities by feeding from a bowl – think of every mouthful of food for your dog as an opportunity to reward desirable behaviour. And if you do that, your dog will choose unwanted behaviour less.

Don’t worry if you don’t feed kibble, you can still inject fun/training/exercise/focus into meal times!

(Depending on which components you feed here are some ideas that I have used in such situations)

  • freezing raw e.g. minces into nuggets in an ice-cube tray and hiding those
  • using a high quality/grain free kibble
  • drying dietary components to make jerky – works especially well for offal components
  • the use of freeze dried treats with a high meat content may be counted toward diet
  • bone or whole organ components can be used in scent games
  • stuff Kongs or similar with minces or soften components and bring on walks or use as rewards in training, by offering a couple of licks for example

Fun, focus, exercise and training packed into just one meal!

For more on making ‘boring’ rewards more rewarding here.


Take your dog on a sniff!

This is not an exciting clip. This is just a couple of minutes of Decker on a walk, with minimal cues given so as to allow him dictate the activity as much as possible.

Watch his behaviour. ALL of it is centered around olfaction (sniffing). He spends all his time air sniffing, trailing, tracking and moving to stay on top of smells.

Watch his pattern of movement. Back and forth, over and back, right and left.

This is a busy dog walking area. We are along a path that is bordered by grass where many other dogs have been, and other animals too.

When you want to know what things your dog likes doing, and needs to do, take a look at what he is already doing. This behaviour is important to dogs and is needed for them to remain healthy.

Make sure your dog has outlets for this everyday – even just a few minutes of sniffing without being told to move on and leave it.
Take your dog on a sniff, stand back and let them do what they were made for!

For more on spicing up your dog’s walks see here too!

Weekly Woof from the Web

More woofs!

We are all about making walks more interesting and have written about it here and looked at in a couple of training videos too here and:


Check out this great clip with some lovely ideas from Muttamorphosis:


Specific ingredients are often present in dog attacks to humans, the impact of many being preventable. This excellent piece looks at the building of a dangerous dog, in a pretty direct manner.

What would it look like if we treated other people we don’t know, like we do strange dogs? Would our expectations of dog behaviour change…?

(language advisory for this one)


We couldn’t blame these people for objecting to this harassment, yet may subject dogs to this and expect them not only to tolerate it, but to enjoy it. Not fair!

Reframing is key to many of life’s challenges, including some dog training challenges too: Training mindfully

Dogs have such an entwined relationship with humans that they have apparently evolved a heightened awareness for our emotional states:


Nail clipping is often dreaded by both people and pets, but just how important is cutting your dog’s nails, really?
Teach your dog to be more comfortable with nail clipping, rather than just managing their behaviour with help from this lovely clip:


Please share this clip with dog owners and parents: My dog growled at my baby…help!

Willy the Pug chooses to work for his food, rather than take that same food for free from a bowl – dogs are contrafreeloaders!


Even Willy thinks food bowls are a bad idea!

40 Awesome Guinea Pig tricks from cutie Ceico – awesome training, great relationship and so much fun!
And here’s his pal Ace doing some scentwork – not just for dogs!

Dogs + trampolines = lots of fun!

Pretty sure we’ve all had days where we felt like this persistent dog

What do you get when you add Whippet puppies to a box…? watch and find out *melt*


Weekly Woof from the Web

More woofing to make up for the lack of Woofs last week!

The fantastic Jessie is still looking for her forever home!

Detail of an amazing piece of work, run by Morris Animal Foundation since last year, involving 3000 Golden Retrievers and their owners hoping to shed more and more light on genetic disease, particularly related to cancers in these dogs, all dogs and people too: San Jose dogs, owners join DNA studies to help find cures

Bloat or GDV, is a scary and often fatal condition particularly affecting large dogs (especially Great Danes) and one long surrounded in mystery. Works commissioned in the last few years is progressing to provide more information on the possible genetic basis of this and related conditions; a summary of this fascinating and not yet published work here.
Never heard of bloat or not sure what it looks like? Check out this piece on identifying the signs of bloat.

Hopefully we haven’t scared you too much about bloat, but here are 8 ways your pet can help relive your stress
And certainly the pet-person relationship can be beneficial for all-round health; read this heartwarming story about a 90 year old woman (who) declines chemotherapy, chooses to spend her final days travelling with her dog. Both Ringo & Norma are lucky to have one another, for however long.

Teaching your dog to settle on a mat is a vital skill; here’s a great starter clip:


Here a couple of ideas for YUMMY homemade treats: Easy-peasy 4 ingredient dog treats and Homemade frozen peanut butter banana dog treats

Dogs who are trained for the highly stressful and difficult job of being an assistance dog are very carefully selected, produced, reared and trained – this is not a job that any or every dog can do; read the ups and downs of such a journey here.

Losing a beloved pet is never easy (in fact, it downright sucks!) and grieving is an important part of the process: After pets pass and What you need to know about grief & losing a pet
And if you have to make that awful, hard decision here are 5 tips for preparation.

When we keep dogs as pets they are living in a foreign land; take some time to learn a little about their communication behaviour (I am sure that you have noticed that they can read humans pretty well!):


And for a more indepth covering try here and here.

Despite our shaky grasp of DOG, your dog thinks you’re perfect just the way you are!

Some pretty neat ideas for puzzle feeders for cats in here, and they may be suitable for some dogs too!

The Subaru ads never disappoint dog lovers: Dog Tested and Do more of the good stuff (search their channels for more!)

I really hope that this is true and KLM really do this..!

Apparently today (4/4) is World Rat Day – check out these fabulously trained pet rats!

And your daily d’awwwww:


Have a great week!

Weekly Woof from the Web

Ooops, we seemed to have missed a Woof so will make it up with two this week!

The GORGEOUS Jessie, who needs a new home!

The key to teaching any species is first understanding how they learn about the world; this is a great place to start:


But training/learning is for all species, in pretty much the same basic way, so here are some lions with an awesome recall and stationing behaviour: Recall

We’ve all seen our dogs apparently act out some intense scene in their sleep, but do humans and animals have similar dreams?

Not only do we teach dogs how to behave around children and teach parents how to monitor child-dog interactions, we can teach children the best ways to behave around dogs too: How to be a kid dogs feel safe with
And some great tips on keeping interactions safe too: A dog will always tell you if he’s about to bite

We are pretty bonkers about enrichment for dogs – anyone handy want to build us one of these?!


Older dogs require a little extra TLC to make sure they have the best quality of life for as long as possible: 6 Tips for Caring for Older Dogs

Just as it’s important to take care toward the end of your dog’s life, it’s also vital that great care be taken at the start of your dog’s like: Puppy 101

We have talked about the importance of looking beyond daily-walkies as a way of entertaining your dog here; this piece looks at this too, with some nice ideas included: What’s in a walk?

Muzzle training is a must for ALL dogs, before they need to wear one: Muzzles: limiting or liberating?

Such an elaborate operation, and clearing away the evidence too:


Here’s another super talented canine:


And on stealth, I think this fella has them all beaten: Ninja Husky

Weekly Woof from the Web

This is the last week during which you can get you and your dog compliant with Ireland’s new microchipping laws; more here.

I’m afraid there’s no chocolate for you two beggars!

Biting is normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour but when it happens (and it is a when and not an if) it is very distressing at many levels. Understanding biting and related dog behaviour is a pretty good step toward preventing it: Why Dogs Bite, Part I and Part II.

A common cause of bites in pets, is pain and they are pretty good at hiding their pain and discomfort. Download a straight forward poster here and here.

Pain may mean a trip to the vet’s and unsurprisingly many dogs find this upsetting and distressing. Not only that many pet owners appear unable to assess their pets’ distress, given that many of the signs can be pretty subtle and easily misinterpreted: Canine Stress in the Vet’s Waiting Room.
This piece gives an in-depth run down of stress and things that can be done to help reduce your dog’s distress: Fixing their bones, but breaking their brains.
More and more veterinary practices are becoming aware of ways to reduce dogs’ distress before, during and after procedures; here are five tips for handling dogs and cats in a caring manner – it’s a poster that you can download and share 😉
We can work together to improve your dog’s comfort, not only with the vet team working to reduce stress, but at home preparing our dogs for handling with two simple of ways of helping your dog enjoy this type of contact in this clip.

With Easter only a few days away and the temptation of chocolate too much for some dogs, let’s avoid that vet visit by being aware and careful of poisons that you dog might ingest:


Here’s a list of the Top 10 Toxins of 2015 and poisons to protect your dog from.  With Spring springing, it’s a good idea to take note of the Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets too.

Remember, no Easter Eggs for pets; the Chocolate Chart!

Instead, get your dog a fun and challenging puzzle toy – the joy will last much longer than your Easter Egg: Brain Teasing Toys for Dogs Who are too Smart for their Own Good!

Even we though we might not have too much self control around all that chocolate, our dogs can: Clicker Training Doggie Zen exercises!
Doggie Zen exercises are some of our favourites, and even though this is an older resource it never really gets tired!

Congratulations to Purin the Beagle for her new Guinness World Record: fastest 10m on a ball by a dog!


Again, we are appealing to people to give chocolate bunnies rather than real ones. But if you are thinking about getting a rabbit pet, watch this clip before getting one…

Or maybe just watch this somewhat terrifying clip…


The long weekend is beckoning…enjoy this clip of an agility round that doesn’t go quite as planned…


Weekly Woof from the Web

It’s time for your weekly roundup of the best woofs from around the web!

Here are some great ideas for homemade entertainment – let the fun & brain games begin: DIY, Six DIY food puzzles and Recycled Enrichment

Off leash dogs storming your dog, who may not welcome the space-invasion, is a common complaint and a common contributor to your dog’s discomfort; here’s one strategy to try when you can’t get away.

Here’s a nice straight forward canine communication resource and the answer to a more specific signaling puzzle: Do you know what the dog twist behaviour means?

And there is no more important application of an understanding of canine signaling, than when children and dogs interact. Here’s what to do: I Speak Doggie and here’s How not to greet a dog

Resource guarding is normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour that may cause problems within groups of dogs living together: How to prevent resource guarding in multiple-dog household

Some excellent ideas for exercises for attention building around distractions here.

Remember, dogs don’t work for free (just like you and me!) so don’t think that he should do it because he loves you!

Need some training inspiration? Check out this awesome training!

Pulp Fiction fan? Talk about inspirational training: Pulp Fiction

It’s a fact; humans are powerless against puppy head tilts…check out these GSD puppies and prepare to surrender!

Think Outside the Food Bowl, Part 3

Part 3 Think Outside

We’ve been looking at thinking outside the conventional when entertaining your dog here and here already; now we are going to think far outside food-based enrichment to providing sensory, physical, cognitive and social challenges to help keep our dogs happy and healthy.


When you think of entertaining or exercising your dog, you probably have taking your dog for a walk on the list – perhaps that’s the main form of entertainment and exercise your dog gets.

But what if you consider, that just like food-bowls, taking your dog for a walk may be more of a human convenience device than entertaining for your dog.

Human/Dog Divide

Going for a walk for humans and going for a walk for dogs are very different experiences, even when there is one human and one dog, together on the same walk.

It will not be news to you that dogs love to sniff and although we recognise their love of all things smelly, we are often too wrapped up in the human end of the walk to facilitate sniffing for our dogs’ entertainment.


That may be because the preferred human past-time is walking while talking and taking in the sights – we live to take in visual information and that requires walking at not much more than a strolling pace.

Recently, Patricia McConnell shared this interesting paper looking at ways of improving animal welfare by recognising the importance of olfaction in impacting the lives of animals in our care. Scents are invisible and undetected by us, but their importance in our dogs’ lives cannot be underestimated.

Pounding the Pavement


Asking our dogs to walk with us, at our two-legged-sightseeing-pace, on a loose lead is a pretty tall order. Not only do dogs need to move faster so as to take in lots of smells, they also have twice the number of legs that we do so are very efficient at covering distance.

Not only is walking up, down, back and forth on suburban streets difficult for your dog (at human pace), it’s also probably pretty boring for them too.
To top it off we use devices that restrict their movement even further, sometimes painfully.

Sheesh! this walking-malarky is becoming more and more like a military drill…

See ya – Decker’s done with military style walkies

Human/Canine Compromise

What are you getting out of walkies?

  • healthier lifestyle
  • physical exercise
  • fresh air
  • social interaction
  • chats with friends
  • meeting & greeting
  • see your local world
  • time with your dog
  • a quiet dog, afterwards

With all this in mind, what’s your dog truly getting out of walkies…?

This might be his only opportunity to be exposed to something other than the same four walls so we gotta make it worthwhile!

Your dog didn’t choose this more limiting lifestyle, and indeed has probably been made for something much more exciting, so how can we make walkies-time the best-time?

Variety is the spice of walkies

You have one walk, maybe only one hour (or even less), let’s cram as much enrichment into that time as we can to boost the value of every walk, every outing and every activity.


Check out the human list of experiences – it pretty much covers our four categories of enrichment that our dogs need added to their daily lives. We can come up with ways to tick those boxes for our dogs too.

Sensory challenges:


  • Turn every walk into a sniff – choose locations, routes and times when you and your dog can devote a good chunk of each outing to just sniffing.
    Dogs find almost every area smelly, but particular favourites are those where other dogs have contributed, where wildlife or livestock frequents or where there’s plenty of traffic of different species.
  • Novelty is interesting for many dogs – bring your dog new places that will provide them with different sights, sounds, smells, textures, substrates and conditions.
    Take care and make sure that it’s not sensory overload.
  • Rotate the experience – if you are lucky enough to have access to varied landscapes, try bringing your dog to different places on different walks.
    Woodland, grassland, beaches and waterways all provide very different sensory experiences, especially when you factor in seasonal changes too.
  • Set-up sniffing challenges – you can introduce new and exciting smells for your dog, and what’s more this can be done at home too.Introduce new herb plants that interest dogs (and that are also safe) and by planting them in pots you can rotate them, hide them or arrange them so that they encourage curiosity and investigation.
    Some informative resources here, here and here.

    Use hunting scents (from different animals, available from hunting and gundog outlets online) and rotate these, set up trails or add to a special toy that you can hide and play with.

  • Scent work games will always be popular with your pet, no matter what you practice finding like food, toys, other items and specific scents – it’s what your dog was made to do!

Don’t forget to teach your dog to “Go Sniff!” on cue so that you always have a handy reward (that your dog loves) and so that your dog can get all his sniffing jollies:


Physical challenges:

Dogs are super efficient at burning energy (that’s why they are so easy to overfeed!) so for most dogs, if they are just trotting along beside you on a pretty military-style walk, they are probably not getting a whole lot of physical challenge out of it.


  • Change your pace – stroll, walk, trot, jog, sprint and then back to trot and up to sprint again and mix & match so that your dog (and you) need to adjust and compensate.
  • Warm up and warm down – make sure your dog has plenty of time at the beginning and end of activity to walk and trot, to loosen up and stretch before the real physical challenges begin.
    Speak to your vet or veterinary physiotherapist about the sorts of conditioning and warm-up exercises that would work best for your dog and activity.
  • Balancing exercises – introduce balancing on unstable objects to really get your dog’s muscles and body awareness working; but as always talk to your vet or veterinary physiotherapist so that you can match the best exercises for your dog.
  • Levels, substrates and terrains – rotate and vary the levels your dog must climb, the substrates he must cope with and the terrain he must negotiate as regularly as possible so that your dog gets to exercise different muscles and body awareness skills.
  • Play – teach your dog to play games with you and with you and toys and bring this on the road. This will help you to introduce varying challenges on each walk, changing pace and directions.
    Tug, fetch, jogging with you, flirtpole and chasing with you will bring lots of fun and games to your daily grind.
    Remember, always teach the rules of games first and make sure to help your dog warm up and warm down.
  • It doesn’t always need to involve walking – drive your dog to a safe spot for games or scent work, bring your dog for a swim or a paddle  or enroll in a dog-sports class such as agility.

Cognitive challenges:


  • Puzzles – don’t have to be elaborate or too complicated, just enough to cause your dog to pause and think a little.
    Why not bring a frozen Kong on each walk and have some downtime in the middle? This is an excellent tool for training better settling behaviour and a great way for you to catch up on sightseeing or just relaxing and chatting.
  • Training exercises – when is a better time to practice training exercises than in the very situations you are going to need those cues?
    Start by working in really quiet locations using really really high value rewards to build up some reliability and set your dog up for success.
  • Passive focus – teach your dog valuable focus with lazy dog training techniques.
    Just stop and wait for your dog to get distracted by something. Allow him to watch it but don’t move. As soon as he turns away from the distraction immediately reward with high value food rewards. Soon you, and this game, will become more valuable!
    If your dog has trouble looking away and back toward you, try moving further away, using super-dooper rewards and working for very short times (30 seconds).

Social challenges:



  • SNIFFING – it really is that great to and for your dog and it’s probably one of the main ways that dogs interact socially with other dogs in modern life.
  • Play-dates – we are not big fans of out-of-control-play at dog parks, daycares, group walks or just random meetings and find it much better for you and your dog to meet up with another like-minded duo to hang out with.
  • Meeting people – gentle introductions to a range of people types can be very pleasant for most dogs. Bring treats and work on polite greetings at the same time!
  • People-watching – sitting back a bit from the action and just watching the comings and goings can be really beneficial for many dogs, especially those who find being in the thick of it, a bit too much.
  • Just hang-out – you are the most important entity in your dog’s life. Hang out with him, do fun stuff together, just be with one another. Ultimate joy of living with and loving dogs!


Let your dog be the guide

Help your dog choose – free-choice exercise is probably more beneficial for mental health than addictive adrenaline-junkie-inducing activity.

Take some time out of each walk to allow your dog dictate the flow. I’ll bet his choices will involve sniffing at some point…!

Thinking beyond an everyday walk

Although walkies is traditionally considered the way to exercise dogs, this might not work for everyone and that’s ok too.

Bringing your dog out in the world can be great for lots of reasons but for some dogs alternatives may be even greater.

There are special considerations for puppies and growing dogs when it comes to physical activity. Check out this fantastic piece from Puppy Culture.

Older dogs or dogs recovering from or with injuries or surgery may benefit from much more controlled exercise such as physical therapy, just pottering around the house, hydrotherapy or gentle play.
Intense, regular walking on concrete is probably not terribly beneficial for anyone – another excellent reason for lots of variety in your daily activity.

Dogs who are fearful, reactive or highly distractible may be pushed beyond their coping abilities when brought out and about. Until some work can be put in place with a suitably qualified behaviour professional it may be better to limit exposure to too much, until they have some help with coping better.

Hey! Be more dog. And make sure your dog is too.

Daily dog walks are not the be-all-and-end-all – dogs need daily activity, enrichment, entertainment and exercise, not necessarily in the form of walks.
Try and mix it up and add and rotate different challenges into your daily adventures.

But always remember to strike that balance between mental and physical exercise, with plenty of downtime and calming thrown in for good measure.