Ask me how I know.
All day, I had dreamed about sitting down with a cup of tea, reading a book and just winding down after work. But alas, ’twas not to be. Charlie was “ON”. He wanted to play, he was restless, he was nudging me with his nose every two seconds, then he started licking my hands, and on and on it went. It is at these moments when a girl wants an easygoing cat, or a rabbit, or some diamonds (in case someone rich is reading).
Luckily, I have faced this situation many times before. So here’s my toolkit for tiring out your dog, so that you can have that cup of tea and have a happy dog (the number one thing is a good walk, of course, but I’m assuming you already did that):
1. The ‘Find It’ Game
I haven’t invented this. But OMG it really works. Put your dog in a sit and make him wait whilst you scatter some treats (preferably low-calorie but something he loves) around. Make the treats a little hard to find so he has to work his nose muscles (?) to find them. When you’re ready, say ‘Find it’ and watch them run around finding the treats. 10 minutes of this works wonders.
2. Tug-of-war, with home-made tug toys!
I used to spend a fortune on tug toys, then I learnt to make my own. Go to your local Spotlight/fabric store, buy 2 metres of ‘fleece’, 1 metre in each color. Cut them up in long strips, then knot two strips together, and keep knotting up these two strips until you have a fleecy tug toy.
3. The Old Faithful: “Fetch”
I have never mastered teaching my dogs to fetch. I know, it’s sad. So I have to have more creative ways of tiring them out. But if your dog loves playing ball, you’re lucky.
4. Teach a trick or two
Sometimes mental exercise tires them out more than the physical. Get a clicker and read up on ‘shaping’ for tricks and clicker-training.
One cute trick I have taught Charlie is how to get me a tissue when I sneeze. Essentially, I have a box of tissues in front of me. I encourage him to touch the box with his nose. As soon as his nose touches the box, I click my clicker and give him a tiny treat. Rinse and repeat. Then up the ante. So now he has to mouth the tissue to get the treat. Once he’s able to do this consistently, up the ante to get him to actually take the tissue out the box. Eventually, move the box further and further away from you. You can also associate a word with the trick, so he knows to get the tissue for you when you ask. For us, it’s ‘Atchoo!’
My favorite is the ‘Trick Medley’ – in quick-fire succession, I will ask for ‘Sit, down, roll over, up, shake hands, ‘speak’, bow down, walk backwards’. Charlie LOOOVES this and it’s hilarious to watch him do this. I’m not kidding, he literally lives for this game.
What have you found that works for your dog? I would love to add to this list!