Dogs have an innate sense of curiosity built into their nature, so try to encourage activity and exercise using that trait to encourage your dog to try something new. Changing your dog's schedule will breathe new life into their routine and make it more interesting. So often we take our dog for granted, leaving them to entertain themselves while we bury ourselves in our work or catch up with chores at home. Apart from the daily walk or the five minutes fussing when we arrive home, our dog is left to their own devices. This situation can lead to the development of undesirable behavior such as the re-landscaping of your lovely garden (holes to Hades everywhere), redesigning your cushions (stuffing everywhere inside) or excessive chewing (of bike seats, pillows, the lounge chairs, shoes and the children's toys!). It's not because they are a bad dog, it is just because they are bored! Before your dog gets to this stage, get creative and build some fun challenges into your dog's life.
If your dog is bored, give them a curiosity box to explore. While you can buy these from online firms or pet shops, it is easy just to make your own. Try packing a few things that your dog will love into a big box then closing the lid. Your dog will be all eyes and they will want to know what is in the box! With their fabulous sense of smell, they will smell a treat inside, and when you give them permission to investigate, watch your dog go barking mad! Rewards that they find in the box are theirs to keep, but they have to work for it. For some reason, cats and dogs love the sound of ripping paper, and dogs love to chew and bite the cardboard box, just as long as they don't swallow any of it. Sit with your dog and encourage them to pull open the box so that they can slip their nose inside for a sniff test. Before long, your dog will be in doggie heaven.
Dogs love to figure stuff out, so use this trait to build a game of finding a hidden item, just using their nosy snout. This game is much like the sniffer dogs at the airport, how cute and business like are they as they ignore all distractions and do their job. You can train your dog to do the same, by hiding small toys, pieces of clothing, or special treats for your dog to find. They will love this 'cloak and dagger' stuff. It will use the dog's natural ability to sniff out items and train them to use their curiosity to track down where you hid their favorite toy. With nose a-twitching and snuffling along, they will soon discover the hidden object. Reward them with lavish praise and even a small treat. How clever they are! It is important to start easy, then increase the complexity of the game. Don't discourage them by making it impossibly hard, give them a head start on the game by making it easy for them. Make sure the commands you give them are consistent, so you don't confuse them. The 'find yellow duckie command' should feature a yellow duckie that they have to find! Get it right, and your dog will become the best tracker in the neighborhood.
Working to engage your dog's curiosity, get a couple of brand new toys that have an unusual squeak. The idea is to pique your dog's interest when they hear a noise they haven't heard before. The game is like ‘hide and seek’ except your dog is looking for that special noise. Using two or more people makes it harder for your dog to track the right person who holds the squeaky toy. Having two noisy toys is even more fun, as the second person can lure the dog away from the other if the dog is getting too close to discovering them. Another strange noise will distract the dog and keep the game going longer.The people who hide can move around, trying to avoid the dog's detection. Not only is it fun for the dog, but it is fun for everyone.
Every dog deserves a new toy now and again. Not only does it make them feel special, but it can replace some other toys that are, well, chewed beyond repair. There is a plethora of toys available for dogs; just ensure the toy is well made, non toxic, safe and soft. Some soft toys are made to be cuddly and are stuffed with a material that crackles. They are also reasonably priced at around $15. The noise will intrigue your dog and they will love playing with their new crackly, soft friend. Hide it inside a bag, and give it to your dog to unwrap. It will be love at first bite for your smitten dog.
If you want your dog to find something, hide it well then lay a trail of little treats here and there so your dog will have to follow the trail. When they reach the end of the trail they will find a toy filled with bigger yummy treats which they then have to work on, in order to get the treat out of the toy. This game is a lot of fun, especially for your dog because next to you, their other biggest love is food!. Once they have found the toy they will spend ages playing with it to ensure every single treat is found and dispatched.
We all get into a rut, going to the same old places with our dog. Why not check out the local parks in your area, perhaps in another suburb, to take your pooch to? The new location will have new smells, different dogs to meet, and will give your dog a whole new experience. From finding pine cones to chasing butterflies, your dog will find plenty of things to explore. Make sure the park is dog friendly first, then go and enjoy a change of venue. It will spice up your dog's life, and it will be a nice change for you.
By encouraging your dog to focus and use their intelligence to work out puzzles or to solve problems, it keeps them alert and focused, but most of all it gives them a sense of achievement. This sense of having done something well is a healthy condition for all living things, even for humans. By playing on your dog's curiosity, it makes the game interesting, and they will give it their all to achieve the goal of the game. Of course, the occasional treat helps here as well, but the praise they get and the love they receive when completing a task is what makes it worthwhile. Our furry friend comes from a history of being a pack member, where exceptional ability gave them an elevated status in the pack. Their love to please and get positive feedback for their efforts stems from this history. Praise and reward from the pack leader (you in this case) are extremely valuable and important. It will give your dog a sense of pride and importance. Let Deputy Dog succumb to their curiosity, and let the games begin.