Activities For Dogs After Labor

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Introduction

Who doesn't love puppies? What joy they bring to a home!  There is no doubt that in the final days of her pregnancy, your little girl was as eager to see those precious lives born into the world as you were; albeit, maybe for a slightly different reason. After a female dog has undergone labor, her body needs some time to recover. But though her body is not yet up to strenuous or lengthy exercise, her mind remains keen and alert. While re-engaging in physical activities might take a little bit of time, there are a lot of interesting things you can do to have fun with a dog who has just given birth.

Touch the Target

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Any Day
Free
Normal
5 min
Items needed
Yummy Treats
A lid from a yogurt or sour cream container
Activity description
When a mother dog has recently given birth; whether it was a natural whelping or via c-section, she is bound to be quite sore. But more than that, she rarely wants to leave her baby puppies who are completely dependent upon her for their survival. Still, even the least active dog in the world will start to go a little "shack wacky" without something to keep their brains occupied, and a new mother dog is no exception. Touch the Target is a fun game that can just as easily be played indoors as outdoors. Best of all, it requires very few items. All you need is a decent-sized lid and a handful of tasty treats, and you're off to the races! Teaching a dog to find or touch a target is a great skill that can be transferred to all sorts of other games. It is one activity that every dog owner should have in their "rainy day game arsenal." It appeals to a dog's sensibilities on two different levels; it asks him to find then touch an object, and it rewards the dog with treats for doing so. From your dog's perspective, you'd be hard-pressed to find something more fun!
Step
1
Select your target
Any medium-size easy to touch item will do for a target. A lot of owners like to use lids from sour cream or cottage cheese containers because they are a common household item, lightweight, and easy for a dog to find. If you choose a target that fits this criterion, it will be much easier for you to take it on your travels to ensure that you always have a fun game with you to play with your favorite canine friend.
Step
2
Touch the target
Teaching the Touch the Target cue can be a little more complex. Even though the behavior sometimes takes time for a dog to fully grasp, you can have lots of fun along the journey as well. Take a treat and put it in the center of the target. Holding it in place with your hand, ask your dog to "Touch the Target." Her nose will automatically touch the intended object when she retrieves her reward. Repeat this exercise a few times a day and for up to several times a week. You will be surprised how quickly your dog learns this new trick!
Step
3
Reward the action
As much as your dog loves to play games, her favorite parts of any activity are your praise followed by her reward. Each time your dog touches the target with her nose, it's party time! Make certain to richly praise your dog but take care not to get her too excited as quiet and rest are important to her recovery time post-whelp.
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What's That Smell?

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Any Day
Free
Normal
5 - 10 min
Items needed
Treats
Soft Piece of Cloth
A scent like vanilla or wintergreen
Activity description
Recent research reports that dogs bear nasal capacities that are up to 30 times more potent than our own. Sometimes this works out to our advantage, but when it comes to scent work, our dogs definitely have the upper hand. Turns out, not only do our favorite canine pals have powerful noses, but they also love to put them to work, making nose work an ideal game to keep a dog recovering from a recent birth well-occupied. Scent work, also known as nose work, essentially works by training a dog to detect the presence of a particular scent such as rosewood, vanilla, lavender, or even eucalyptus or orange. As dogs become more adept at finding scents, more subtle fragrances can be incorporated and the "search" area can also be widened. However, for a female dog recovering after labor, it is best to keep her searching in a small and limited area so as not to overtax her.
Step
1
Select the scent
There are a vast number of scents that you can choose from to get your favorite canine gal started. For best results, opt for something particularly fragrant to make it easier to "track." As your dog progresses in her skill level, you can graduate to more challenging scents or even use multiple odiferous items for your dog to detect during the game. Vanilla, wintergreen, and eucalyptus fill the bill well, but you could also use something like pepperoni which has the added advantage of being yummy to eat once sourced!
Step
2
Hide the scent
Once you have selected your scent, it is time to saturate an object with it, so it can then be hidden. If you were to use pepperoni, you might be wiser to select a small yogurt container that you could seal off and punch small holes into to make it easier to find. Small pieces of cloth are also great for trapping and holding a fragrance and don't tend to fade as quickly as other options. Once you have decided what you are going to use to house your aroma, it is now time to hide it for your dog to find. Make it challenging but not too challenging otherwise your dog might get bored and not want to play the game any further.
Step
3
Find the scent
With all of the aforementioned accomplished, it's now time to release the hounds! For dogs recovering from labor, it is best to keep the hidden item to a very small radius so as not to tire her out unnecessarily. Always remember that she still has puppies to feed. She needs her playtime, but she also needs her strength!
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Shake 'Em Both

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Any Day
Free
Normal
5 min
Items needed
Tasty treats
Activity description
While it has been said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, you can definitely teach some to a new mother dog! Dogs love to learn new skills, and they also revel in showing off all of the clever things they know how to do! Trick training is a great way to give your dog a modicum of exercise while making maximum use of the brain. Choose from tricks that require limited amounts of physical exercise or that are more cerebral in order to keep your dog interested but not overly fatigued. Shake 'Em Both is simply a variation on everyone's beloved trick - Shake a Paw. This game takes it to the next level by asking the dog to not only offer one paw but also to extend the other as well. A fun trick for all dogs to learn, you will soon find your dog offering to Shake 'Em Both as often as possible because she knows it's bound to bring a smile or a laugh; either of which is good in her books.
Step
1
Select the treat
Selecting just the right treat will help determine the success of this operation. Choose from something that is bite-sized to make it easy to ingest in one morsel. Small pieces of meat or cheese are of particular interest to most dogs. With nursing mothers, calories are not a concern as they have babies to feed, but care must be taken not to feed much dairy which can adversely affect milk production or to upset her stomach with too many varied foods.
Step
2
Take a seat
To best teach this trick, your dog should assume a stationary position. Since balance can sometimes be an issue in a female dog who has just whelped, it is important to allow her to assume a "Sit" only if it is comfortable for her to do so. If she is still too sore to sit for any length of time, she can still enjoy the game from a reclining position. She can even multi-task and nurse her puppies at the same time!
Step
3
Give the paw
Start by asking your dog to offer you her "Right" paw. Make certain that the paw the dog offers you is, in fact, the right paw. Your dog will learn the cue words, so it is important that you remain consistent so as not to confuse her. If necessary, you can prompt her to offer you the correct paw by gently touching under her front foot in an upward motion. Treat her for offering the correct action. With this completed, it is now time to repeat the command, but this time asking for a "Left." Repeat several times in a session but take care not to overdo it and lose your dog's interest.
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More Fun Ideas...

Take 'Er Easy

Teaching your dog that calm behavior will be rewarded is a great skill for every canine to have. To train this behavior, you can make use of a clicker to catch then click any time your dog seems relaxed. Be careful that your timing is precise; otherwise, your dog may become confused as to what she did correctly and will not know what to offer you again. Of course, every click gets a treat, so be sure to have plenty of tasty tidbits on hand to keep the game fun!

Mealtime Puzzle

Food puzzles and brain games are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Since some female dogs will protect food from their own puppies, it is best for this game to be reserved for a crate or when your girl is in a room by herself. Most retailers sell a variety of different puzzle options with nearly all of them making use of food in some manner.

Conclusion

Having puppies takes a lot out of a dog, and a momma definitely needs some time to rest, heal, and tend to her babies. But just because your dog's physical energy expenditures need to be limited doesn't mean that she can't still have a good time! For best results, restrict the more rigorous athletic pursuits until your girl is fully healed, but let the brain games begin! Activities that make your dog think are a great way to keep her engaged and excited. Why not give one of these games a try today?