One of the most common reasons behind why our canine companions act out can be traced back to just being bored! Some high energy dogs, like border collies, are easily bored when they don’t have a job to keep them busy. So here a few ways to help keep your dog occupied! Remember it doesn’t always have to be a strenuous physical activity that keeps them busy. Try out some brain exercises too!
1. Walks – Taking your dog out for a walk is a great way to help you both get some fresh air and exercise. Your dog will love getting out and smelling new smells and seeing the sights. But sometimes due to weather and times of day, getting out for walks isn’t always an easy option. So why not try some of the following ideas instead? You can also look into hiring a dog walker…maybe there’s a neighbourhood kid looking to make a couple of extra dollars.
2. Puzzle Toys – There are a wide variety of puzzle toys available for purchase! They are a great way to keep your busy dog quiet while also giving their brain a workout. If your dog is super smart, consider buying two puzzle toys and switching them up every now and then. These work well for keeping them occupied during the day or to slow their eating down at meal times. We have a couple of different examples in our Nutrition Centre for you to check out!
3. Doggie Play Dates – Dogs are social animals, and for the most part enjoy interacting with other dogs. Talk with neighbours and friends to see if anyone is interested in setting up a playdate. This is a win-win for both parties! The dogs should have a great time and tire each other out. Just make sure that everyone is up to date on their vaccines and that they have compatible personalities before jumping in.
4. Classes – Check online for different classes in your area. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try some agility classes with your dog. Or if you didn’t want to get involved with all that running, why not look into flyball or obedience classes? Does your dog have a super sniffer? Look into putting that nose to work in scent classes! If you are looking to bond more closely with your dog and make some new friends, any of these options would be lots of fun!
5. New Toys – Don’t underestimate the power of a new toy! Playing with the same toys all the time can get boring for your dog so try introducing a new toy. Start rotating through toys as well, so the “newness” lasts a little longer. A great new toy that also helps keep them occupied is a rubber Kong toy. Stuff it with some peanut butter, kibble or fresh veggies like carrots.
6. Play Games – Everyone loves games – including your dog! Try out different games like “Which Hand Has the Treat?”, “The Three Cup Game” (Use three cups and let your dog see you place a treat or small toy under one of the cups. Slowly shuffle the cups and have your dog find the cup with the treat under it.), or “The Muffin Tim Game” (Use an old muffin tin and place a few treats or kibbles in a couple of the holes. Cover all the hole with balls or other toys so they have to uncover them to find the yummy snacks!). Try them out and find your dogs favourite! Don’t forget to switch them up so they stay new and fun for longer!
7. New Tricks – Once you’ve mastered the basic commands like sit, down, stay, and come, try some more complicated ones. There are lots of neat tricks that you can teach your dog to make playtime fun for both of you. Try teaching your dog the name of their toys so, when you’re ready to play, you can ask for a specific toy. Start by asking for your dogs’ favourite toys, like a ball or frisbee. Then work on asking for more unfamiliar toys. Want to change it up a little? Teach them to fetch their leash for you when it’s time for a walk! Once your play session is over, you can also teach them to “Put Your Toys Away.” For this, they will have to be familiar with the “Take It” and “Drop It” commands. If they don’t know those commands, start by teaching those first and work your way up to the next step.
Hopefully, these games and tricks will help keep your pup entertained! Let us know what games your dog likes most and how your trick training went! If you have any questions or concerns, we are here to help answer your questions and offer support so don’t hesitate to give the office a call.
Written by Kelsey Hewgill, RVT