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Rainy Day Brain games for your dog

14/11/2018 - Dog Training Advice

What can you do when it’s too wet for walkies? We people can find a million different boredom-busting things to do indoors but what about your dog? He can’t turn the telly on, phone a friend or read a book.

For your dog, walks are more than physical exercise. They are quality time with you, they enrich his life with new smells and new experiences and tell him what’s happening in the outside world. Mental stimulation and enrichment is crucial for your dog’s wellbeing. So if he can’t go walkies, what can he do?

Here are Best Behaviour Dog Training’s suggestions for rainy day activities that you and your dog can enjoy together.

Brushing up on basic training with an indoor refresher session
Your dog may be good at basic obedience but that doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy the opportunity to learn a bit more AND show you how good he is. You don’t need lots of space to remind your dog how to focus on you, listen to you and respond to voice and hand cues.

Why not put aside half an hour to work on sit, stay, recall, response to name? If you have room, you could use the furniture to set up a heel-walking obstacle course.  He’ll really have to focus on you for that. Don’t forget lots of reinforcement and rewards.

Turn a rainy day into an opportunity to build your dog’s skillset. If you can teach him to stay in one place while you leave the room for a second or two, you can turn his new party trick into a game of indoor hide and seek. Childish but fun.

Learn some tricks
Now that your dog is not distracted by delicious smells, people, cars or wildlife. You could teach him some tricks – just for fun. Some tricks do actually have a purpose too. How about teaching him to rest his chin on your hand? Endearing as a party trick and invaluable if you need him to sit quietly while the vet examines him.

Then there’s the Peek-a-boo. A nice finish to a recall and quite a fun thing to show visitors.

Never heard of it?

In this video, Zoe demonstrates some very simple training exercises that you can do indoors. The Peekaboo is number 5.

Exercise his nose
Your dog was born to smell and I’m not referring to his unique odour (mm mm wet dog!). He interprets the world through his nose. There’s nothing your dog enjoys more than using his nose.  What looks to you like an uninspiring patch of grass, smells to him of, snails, wellies and every dog that has passed by that day. It’s like a newspaper for him.

A favourite game for many dogs is sniffing out treats. You’ll need to show him what you are asking him to do. We’ve got two suggestions for that

  1. Start him off by filling an old cardboard box with screwed up newspaper and hiding food treats in it. Give him a cue (maybe say “find it” or “seek” and point to the box) then encourage him to rootle about until he’s found every last one. Once he understands the cue you can hide treats all over the place and point him in the right direction to find them.
  2. Spread treats all over the floor for him to find. Again, give him a cue to go find them. You can build the exercise up so that you hide bits and pieces under the sofa, behind the chair, under the rug etc. If your dog is not motivated by food, swap treats for his favourite toys.

Our Scent Detectives classes can really help you and your dog to develop his nose-work.
Find out more here

Nose work toys
Nowadays, you can buy all sorts of nose work activity toys for dogs. Snuffle mats are very popular but you can also buy activity mats, cubes and cuddly toys with pockets for treats.  If you are handy with a sewing machine – you could spend your rainy days designing and making a doggy activity game.

When it comes to the crunch
Animal behaviourists are now convinced that chewing is something that dogs like to do to pass the time. They think it releases feel good chemicals in the brain that help the dog to settle and relax.

So on rainy days, why not give him something to chew on after his training session?  Kong toys (or similar) stuffed with peanut butter are brilliant. Or, to ring the changes, try a “lick it mat”.  Bones are great but very careful not to give him anything that could splinter. Rawhide bones have received quite a lot of bad press – maybe best to avoid them.

For the sake of your dog’s health, please be very fussy about you allow him to chew. And at the first sign of any aggression around bones or toys, please consult a dog behaviourist.


Quality time improves dog’s lives
In your dog’s eyes no toy or chew bone is a substitute for spending quality time with you.  After half an hour or more of intense 1-2-1 training, I guarantee you your dog will be too tired to be bored and the bond between you will get stronger and stronger.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful video featuring Steve Mann from the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers as he spends quality time with his dog. In the video, Steve just happens to be outdoors but this is so easily adapted for indoors. All you need to do is turn off the telly, switch your phone to silent and focus fully on your dog.

More ideas for rainy day games with your dog
The internet will give you lots of ideas for tricks and games, just be sure that your training techniques are force free and 100% positive. Better still, join one of our fun dog training classes to stretch your dog’s mind and develop your own skills.
Find a fun dog training class near Ipswich and Stowmarket

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