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Mental exercises for dogs/puppies

1023 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Flyingfurr
I posted this in the new dog owner forum but it might be better served being here:

While I love training my puppy to do different obedience activities, that gets old after a while. What are some activities (with how you teach them) that you use to keep your dog mentally and physically occupied?

Some follow-up questions:

I hear a lot about scent training a dog. Is there a link or a quick suggestion on how you teach a puppy to do this? My puppy is food, not play, oriented.

Are there ways to make the Kong more challenging? Right now we fill the kong with wet kibble and freeze it. Within 20 minutes she's emptied it. Are there ways to increase the degree of difficulty?

Other tips?
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Here's a link to nose work games/ideas:


Can't help you with the stuffed Kongs, because I never use them... 4 dogs + food toys = mayhem and/or bloodshed. (yikes)

And, in the end, don't forget to teach your puppy to happily just 'hang out' with you. Following along as you go about your daily routine, which can include a shadowing dog (but doesn't actually revolve around said dog) Even the most high energy of dogs can learn to settle/chill, although it often needs to be *actively* taught to them (rather than their default behavior)
We've been doing a nose work class with the local trainer. Basically, the instructor has 10 - 15 empty shoe boxes and she places them around the room and adds cut up baked chicken to one of them, all while the dog is out of sight. She calls is back into the room and I hold the leash and stop at the door just long enough to see the room and do a sit, them I release her with the cue "go search". At first we start out very easy and if she doesn't get it after a while the handler (me) walks her towards The vicinity of the box. My puppy picked it up right away and is not distractible now. The trainer adds things to the room, like bikes, x-pens, and other objects to make it more confusing. That's as far as we have gotten.

We also introduce our puppy to new things. Today we bought her bubbles. Exploring and investigating new things really wears her out more than puppy playtime at the local trainer's.
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I would have sworn I posted a reply, but I guess it went to never never land...

FDSA is starting a new session October 1st, and the have a really good beginner nosework class. https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/14305 Registration is open now.
Something else you can try is trick training. The website Do More With Your Dog is a place to start (or Youtube, of course). When I found the DMWYD website, Atlas already knew enough tricks to get his novice title. We are definitely going to pick away at getting the more advanced ones too. :) I found with Atlas that some stuff he wasn't ready to do when he was younger ('hold it' in particular), but this summer we've made some definite progress, so don't worry if something just isn't clicking now.

I like it because I could play around with him for short periods just sitting on the living room floor in the evenings, and he was pretty eager to get those treats! (No joke, the first thing he had to learn at 8 weeks was to 'leave it'.)
Thanks everyone for the advice.

One question - and may be the source for my frustration - I have a high energy dog and am trying to teach her to settle. It's like teaching the wind to not blow. What age can I generally expect to have the puppy learn to settle? She's 13 weeks right now. She's an Aussie/Border mix.
My border collie and my heeler/BC mix were both fully capable of settling down IN a crate by 10-12 weeks. Out of crate? Probably 4ish months.

The key to it for me was:
1-) Regular exercise and training, yes, but also
2-) Rules and restrictions about what was acceptable/allowed inside.

No toys except chews inside. No active play (no fetch, no tug, no chase and wrestling indoors - at ALL). Training that was active or energetic? Also not happening inside. Play with each other? Rarely. Anything more than a two minute play? sent out into the back yard. Inside they had two options: Chew and settle or be put in a crate or pen.

They very quickly learned to chill out and hang out if they wanted to not be crated.

They get a lot of training and exercise - they compete, they do classes and trials and practices and hikes and swimming and ball and disc and tug and training. There is no need for... rambunctious play or training indoors. That very, very clear line (Chill out or crate) doesn't take long for them to learn.

And, okay, a lot of management, mat work, supervision, and serious encouragement of calm behavior but that's because I use minimal crating in daily life and am just not using crates for long periods of time. I won't get judgy at other people but 18+ hours of crating isn't happening in my house - ever. Even with 'chill or crate' it's in the crate for 5 minutes, out again to try again until they get it (and lots of time outside).
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Have you done a FDSA online class before?? It looks interesting(that is Fenzi Dog sport Academy)
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