Easter activities for you and your dog
With a favourite toy and some treats, there are many fun activities to keep you and your dog entertained at Easter. Maybe you don't have the opportunity to go out right now; sometimes it is good to be able to play indoors too. In this article we share a few of our favourite indoor and outdoor games.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Hide and Seek
Searching for a hidden toy filled with tasty treats is a good mental exercise for your dog. This activity can be done indoors, or outdoors, during a walk, or in the garden. Hide the treats in more difficult places, at different heights, or behind objects. Make it harder by expanding the search area and finding new hiding places.
Step 1. Take a treat, or fill a toy, the right size for your dog, with some goodies that you know your dog likes.
Step 2. Show your dog the treat, let them smell it. Ask the dog to “Wait” and then hide the treat in an appropriate place.
Step 3. Ask the dog to look for the treat, by saying "Find it". Help the dog while it is searching by repeatedly saying "Find it". When they find it, you can either help to open the toy, or see if they can get the treats out by themselves. Just be careful that your dog doesn’t eat the toy too!
Pick the cup
Another fun activity is asking your dog to try to find a treat hidden under a cup.
Step 1. Ask your dog to sit in front of you whilst you place a plastic cup on the floor. Place a treat under the cup. To prevent the cup from sliding around, you can place it on a mat or a blanket.
Step 2. Ask your dog to “Find it”. Let the dog use their paws and nose to try to lift the cup to reveal the treat underneath.
Step 3. Next, try the game with two cups, and then say “Find it”. Wait until they sniff the right one before praising them. Then add more cups to make the game more challenging.
Agility, dog parkour and heelwork
Teaching your dog to learn obedience and to do tricks is fun and interactive. There are many things that we can teach our dogs to do with the right training. Some examples include, lying down, paw, high five, crawling, rolling around, jumping, skipping obstacles and lots more. Start by holding a treat in a closed hand by your leg so that your dog understands that the treat is there, but does not take it. Say "Heel” and the dog should then walk by your side; their head should be beside your leg, or just behind. The dog's head should not protrude beyond your leg. Begin by walking a few steps and rewarding your dog. When you want to make it more difficult, increase the number of steps until you give the reward. As the dog learns, you may be able to extend the walk further. Through exercise and training, your dog will gain better body control and balance, which in turn leads to better self-confidence. There are many websites to help you get started. Follow these links to learn more about puppy training, and dog parkour.
These can be made longer and more interactive with a few simple changes. Try putting their normal food in a KONG, activity ball, Puzzle Ball, Buster Cube or Havaball. Food can also be scattered on a mat, or hidden in different places to help your dog use their brain and body to search for it. There are many other ideas for making your own version online. You can create an "enriched" garden by scattering their breakfast around. This will not only encourage their natural foraging instincts but also to build their confidence with new experiences.
A great way to get the family involved this Easter is to make your dog a homemade snuffle mat. They are simple and fun to make, and dogs love using their nose to find the treats hidden inside. You can even use their own dry food from their daily food allowance, so that you are not giving them extra calories.
Puppies during the lockdown period
We know that owners are going to be thinking about their puppies during this time and trying to find ways not only to keep them entertained but to make sure that they turn into well behaved and confident dogs in the future. There is some really good advice from the British Veterinary Association for puppy owners, and it is relevant to adult dogs as well.
The manufacturers of Adaptil have some excellent articles on socialising puppies and making sure that they are confident enough to cope with spending time on their own as well, which is going to be important for them.
These are important for both you and your dog. Begin to calmly and gently train your dog for routine health checks and healthcare. Dogs can learn to enjoy being brushed, having their teeth brushed, trimming their claws, having a bath, and learning to do a routine health check at home. Start with small steps and be sure to reward even the smallest progress. Practice extending the moment between action and reward.
Is your dog’s coat long after the Winter? For some dogs it is a great feeling to shed their Winter coat. Why not take the opportunity to give your dog a well-deserved bath and a groom? Start by bathing your dog with a pet-friendly shampoo, being sure to avoid their eyes. Dry them and then take a little time to brush out any remaining old coat!
For more advice about how to make your dog’s day interesting and fun, visit the Dogs Trust website.
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