On the days that you are physically unable to walk the dog and no-one can help, brain training is an excellent way to exhaust them as they are having to use their brain, 20 minutes brain training can be the equivalent of an hours walk in the same way that training does, then they just need out to toilet. However this should not be done instead of a walk if you can manage it, as they still need to sniff and roam around, they are not indoor animals, so if you can walk them then you should. These games are also good for rainy days, if your dogs hate rain like my 2 do.
1. What you need – 3 small plant pots/paper cups and treats, upturn the pots and in your dogs vision place a treat under one pot and get them to choose a pot, when they choose the correct pot, praise. This game can be increased in difficulty by moving the pots around after putting the treat under or easier by placing a treat under 2 pots.
2. What you need – several old toilet rolls or kitchen rolls cut in two and dry dog food. Fold up one end of the toilet roll tube, fill with the dry food then fold up other end. Repeat this for as many as you like then hide them around your house or garden and get the dogs to find them and open them. This is also good for slowing down your dogs eating if you put a meals worth of dry food split between the tubes.
3. Hide and seek – show your dog what your going to hide, this could be treats, favourite toy ( I have a training toy for each dog and because they only get it when training it is a high value toy to them) or even a person, then hide the item in a different room from your dog so they don’t see where your putting it (I hide it then make sure that I go into different rooms to throw them off track) then tell your dog to go fetch
4. What you need – a kitchen/dining room chair or a step stool or something sturdy on legs, a clicker and treats. Train your dog to walk around the object, crawl under the object, crawl under and stay whilst under, jump up onto it jump over the object using the treats to entice them to do what you want then clicking once they have done it.
5. If you have stairs in your house (I don’t) but you can stand at the top of the stairs with the dog then roll a ball down the stairs and tell the dog to fetch and return. This will burn off energy.
6. Clean up – teach your dog to clean up their toys. First teach them ‘put away’ by getting them to pick up a toy, carry it and drop into a basket/toy box using the clicker and treating once they have done it. This may take a few days to learn. Once learnt you can make it into a game by scattering toys around a small area, then point to a toy and say put away, until all toys are back in the box. You can increase the difficulty gradually by scattering the toys in a wider area then into multiple rooms or even hiding them.
7. Obstacle course – setting up an obstacle course and teach your dog to navigate the objects. This is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. Here are some ideas what you could use – a stUrey step stool for them to jump onto and balance, kitchen chair to crawl under or jump on, a box with 2 open ends for them to crawl through, a hula hoop to jump through, a ball or frisbee to catch, a basket with a pile of toys next to it for them to put into basket, a brush handle/walking stick on 2 stools or boxes to jump over. walk your dog through each obstacle and make sure that you praise and reward them after each one.