The sun is finally shining again and after three days of rain, the dogs deserve to get outside today after work for a hard run. But since I’m not too excited about Phoenix doing himself further damage (not that it would bother HIM), we’re going to hold off on playing ball and Frisbee until after his stitches come out on Monday. Of course by then, it might be raining again or even snowing. Sigh. How’s a dog mom supposed to keep her little darlings exercised?
That’s where The Game comes in handy. I learned this at a seminar and was amazed how fast my dogs caught onto it. It’s something you can play indoors when the weather is crummy (like for the next six months). It provides both mental and physical exercise. The amount of physical exercise depends on how much your dog gets into it. You can also incorporate out of sight sit/stay and down/stay work if you want.
I KNOW I should get some video to post of the Belgians playing The Game because they are hysterical. I’ll try get some over the weekend. Just remember you’re dealing with the technologically challenged here.
Here’s how The Game works. First, get a toy. Show the toy to the dogs. Get all excited.
Put the dogs on a stay (or shut them behind a baby gate or have your significant other hold them).
Go hide the toy in another room. Let the dog see you hide it the first couple of times. You decide how well you want to hide it. I usually walk through multiple rooms, then tuck it out of sight behind a piece of furniture. Sometimes I’ll put it on a chair seat in the dining room. I’ve put it in the bathtub and under a blanket on my recliner or on the back of the toilet. I DON’T put it in places I do not want the dogs to go in the first place, like on kitchen countertops, top of the entertainment center, etc.
Go back to your dogs. Release them from their stay and ask “Where’d it go?” Encourage them to go look if they don’t take off on their own. This is the part that amazed me. Both my guys will ignore the variety of balls and bones lying around and be totally obsessed with finding the toy I hid. The more often we play The Game, the more creative I need to be in hiding the toy. They have learned to look “up” as well searching on the floor. It’s fun to watch them search room-by-room. Sometimes they go together, other times, they go opposite directions.
Actually, it’s kind of scary. They are both totally possessed while they are hunting. You really need to stay out of their way if you value your knees. And yes, there is occasionally some collateral damage to the house. But it’s minor. Usually.
You could play this with a piece of food, too, if your dog isn’t crazy about toys, but half the fun for my guys is being able to flaunt the toy in the other dog’s face when they find it.
Today I am thankful it’s Friday and I have a weekend at home.