Quarantine can be tough for most of us, but for our dogs it no doubt feels like a long vacation. Think about it. Not only are you home all day keeping them company, but you’re available to take them for a walk whenever they ably drop the right hint. A woof woof usually does it. If you’re a dog owner, you’re therefore probably trying to think of different ways to entertain your dog.
Our four-legged friends appreciate a lot of fun and entertainment—particularly activities that also involve their owner. Here are some top tips, tricks and ideas on how to create quality time with your furry friend:
Play the “Find it” game
The rules of this one are straightforward. Simply hide your dog’s favourite toy somewhere and ask them to find it. To get started, it makes sense to ask them to sit whilst they watch you hide their toy in a somewhat visible position. Then, let your pup find the toy and as soon as they do, express your happiness and play with it for a minute or so.
Afterwards, you could look at gradually increasing the criteria of the game by hiding the toy in less visible positions. Seeing your pooch’s happiness when they manage to find their toy in a different room = smiles all round.
Entertain your dog with an obstacle course
This obstacle course activity is all about making your dog jump through hoops. Okay, maybe not literally. Creating an obstacle course for your pup is a fun activity, although they might find it a little difficult to begin with. An achievable way to get started is to rearrange small furniture and add some everyday safe obstacles to make a track. These obstacles could be things like pillows, boxes, bags, books or anything that’s in sight (and not sharp).
As your dog completes the course, be generous with the treats. Keep in mind that your pooch will also find it fun to simply jump/step on the obstacles, rather than overcoming them. Stop at any point if it looks like your dog is finding it uncomfortable or scary.
Teach your pooch the ‘Jump’ trick
Teaching your dog to jump into your arms, on your back or into your lap is a great bonding experience. It’s also incredibly fun and helps to strengthen pet/owner trust. Start low at first by lying on your stomach or back and asking the dog to get on you by luring them in with treats. When the dog feels comfortable with the task, ask them to sit or lie down.
Then, change positions gradually to make it a little more difficult. For example, you could roll into a child’s pose or cow/cat post (yes, we’re using yoga poses here)! You could also sit on a cushion and ask the dog to get on your lap. Another idea would be to move onto a chair, or stand with slightly bended knees and catch the dog with your open arms. Please only try this if your dog clearly feels okay with it and you’re already able to comfortably carry your canine friend.
Train your furry friend to ‘weave’ between your legs
This is one that’s fun for both of you. Simply get started by holding treats in both of your hands and sit your pooch to your left side. Then, step forward with your right leg whilst holding the treat up in your right arm. As soon as your dog goes between your legs to get the treat, give it to them and shower them with praise. Next, step forward with your left leg, encouraging your dog to seek the treat in your left arm. Repeat on each side and reward every step. Then, as it goes on, change up the pattern by rewarding every other weave until the pup can do several in a row.
Always consider the safety of your dog first and make sure you’re both having fun. If you see that your dog is getting anxious or is uncomfortable, change to an activity that your dog enjoys. If you’re getting bored or run out of patience, leave new tricks and games for another day. Remember, time with your four-legged friend always has to be fun!
Don’t be afraid to get in touch with a professional dog behaviourist or trainer for more fun activities. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not just for misbehaving dogs (or owners). They can open your mind to so many great activities.