Rainy Play Time!
by Sharon Gorst // August 2017
Rainy Play Time!
Even when it is raining we still need to put our raincoat on and take our dog out for their walk but what can we do to entertain them when stuck indoors on a rainy day?
Exercising your dog mentally is just as important as providing them with physical exercise. A good way to entertain your dog, young or old, big or small is by getting them to use their nose and to do some scent work with them. You can have them finding either food or a specific scent.
Doing scent work with your dog is a great way to build their confidence , keep them engaged with you and also helps to build a strong bond between you and your dog. It is the dog that does all the work you are just there to help guide them if needed. It is important that we don’t interfere too much when your dog is searching as this will encourage the dog to rely on you to find the items instead. Remember it is the dog that has the amazing nose not us.
When your dog is searching keep back from them if they look at you encourage them by telling them to ‘find’ or ‘search’ but if they look like they have lost the scent then you could help put them back on track but then keep your distance once the dogs is back to scenting.
To start your dog scenting we need to get them to understand a verbal signal such as ‘search’ or ‘find’ but we also need them to start wanting to find the food or toy.
Have a tasty treat like a bit of cheese (if using food) and throw it on the floor away from your dog so they see where it is but when you release them to go get it give them the verbal signal you will be using. Do this a few times making it easy for the dog to find the treat.
Next hide the treat behind the sofa or round a corner so the dog now has to try harder to find the treat but it is still easy for them to do so. Make sure to add the verbal signal when releasing them to find it.
When you dog is progressing well you can hide the treat in a different room from them and ask for them to find it. Making sure to not make the search to difficult at first as you can always make the searches harder but only when you dog is ready for it. You could progress be having someone else hiding the treat as this will encourage you to truly be in tune with your dog and know when they have found the treat as you will have to start reading your dog’s body language and find the subtle indications as when you dog is on to the scent and has found it.
Other ideas for searching
- Using cardboard boxes to hide a treat and let your dog sniff and search the boxes is progressing your scent games with them. If you have used a box remove it from the next search as the scent from the treat or article can still be lingering and can confuse your dog.
- Hide the treat or toy in an old unfastened rucksack. Even making a snuffle matt and hiding there dinner in it is a great way to keep them entertained on wet day.
- Use empty egg carton or you could hide items in toilet rolls with the end folded over.
- Remember that the motivation for the search is the reward of the treat they found or the play with the toy.
This game can be played anywhere and not just on wet rainy days. In different parts of the house, in the back garden or out on walks. Playing scent games on walks can help to keep your dog interacting with you and your dog will find walk times with you are really fun and exciting.
Some dogs find scenting a big reward so this can be a way of rewarding them when training them, for example when your dog recalls back to you throw the treat into the grass so they have to find it.
Here at Dog School we can help you work with your dog in a partnership that will make training fun and rewarding for both of you. In classes we can show you how to achieve the best out of your dog.
Our workshops help you to learn new exercises for you and your dog to enjoy and our presentation evenings help give you more of an understanding about how your dog learns and their behaviour.
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