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Discussion Starter #1
Oliver has no bad habits or behaviour issues, gets alot of attention from everyone and he is my 11 year old daughters' constant companion--follows her wherever she goes. He gets plenty of play and excersize. He is highly intelligent and suffers from occasional attention deficit. I'm looking for ideas to make sure he gets the correct stimulation and balance.



 

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Lots of options, many of which could include your 11 year old!

Clicker training. Do some reading on this. Shaping behaviors is so much fun, and it wears out the dog mentally.

Food toys. If the dog is food-motivated, try a kong wobbler, buster cube, or other such toy. For treats, I love Busy Buddy's Squirrel Dude. It's like a kong, but much more difficult. It can last for hours!

Dog sports. There's a bunch out there. Nosework would be really fun. Are there any agility clubs in your area? Most venues offer discounts for junior handlers (your daughter would qualify).
 

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I love playing "finding" games with my pup - they work on the same principle as expensive "dog puzzles" that you can buy, but they are cheap/free, and you can keep switching it up as the pup progresses.

For example - take some sturdy plastic cups (little flowerpots made of plastic work well - you don't want anything that will break easily) and a ball (or treat/kibble if you want). Have the dog sit, and watch you as you put the ball under the cup (use BIG hand movements to start) - then move back a little, and give the ok - see if the dog can flip over the cup to find the toy. You can progress to using multiple cups but one ball, moving the cups around, or playing "hide and go seek" style - hiding the ball under or in a variety of objects, and having the dog find it. Kibble is usually easier to find because of smell, whereas toys can be a little more difficult.

Make sure that what you are doing fits with your dog's capabilities and attention span - some pups get bored of a Kong if they can't figure it out fast enough, and then can get frustrated - smelling a treat but not being able to get it. Work with your dog's personality and level of attention to a game.

Up your training of the more "fun" commands - things like rolling over, playing dead - stuff that you would never use in the outside world, but that can be fun and mentally stimulating to learn.

And make sure that you are doing your games at a time when your dog has been fed and had a little exercise - it's just frustrating for everyone to try and train or play games if your pup is bursting with energy and wants a walk, or is distracted and hungry...or on the other end of the spectrum - exhausted from play and just wants to sleep.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the suggestions. I think he'll enjoy a kong. I don't know of any agility clubs in the area. We live in a small town in North Idaho so opportunities like that are somewhat limited. I like the idea of nose games and dog puzzles. He lives to please so working on some more fun commands would be perfect. So far the only "fun" thing we have him do is offer his paw for a shake.
 

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I love tricks training. If you don't have a training club near you, you can find all sorts of videos on YouTube and books that give you tons of ideas for silly little tricks and how to teach them. If your dog is smart and likes to figure things out, he'll probably like it.
 

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My hound mix Callie is very high energy and incredibly smart, we found 'brain games' to be the only way to properly drain her energy. Without them she would run herself into the ground... literally. She LOVES tennis balls so we decided to work with that and the fact she is a hound so she has a natural scenting/hunting drive. I have her sit/stay then I disappear and hide the ball somewhere in the house. When I come back I say excitedly "find your ball!" and she goes off looking everywhere for it. Its incredible the way her eyes light up when we get her mind going and I am constantly amazed by how smart she is, she tracks the location of the ball each time I hide it and ensures to check there again. We happen to have a tennis court at our cottage so its even practical to have her go after balls that get lost! After Callie tore her ACL and we went through months of difficult recovery we figured out that for some dogs 15 minutes of "brain games" is better than an hour of running.

My advice is to find something that works with your dogs natural instincts. So much of our training is about suppressing impulse, (sit/down/leave it/stay) I really like doing something that works with the dogs instincts.
 

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My puppy likes the muffin tin game. I put treats of different values in a muffin tin and cover them with as many balls as I have, and then roundish toys. He's got to move them around to find what he wants. He always finds the cheese first!!

He also loves plastic bottles. We feed him out of wide mouthed plastic bottles sometimes (iced tea/juice type, not soda/water type), and he rolls that thing all over and kibbles fall out.

My friends and I will hide around the house and then call him to come and he has to come find us, then he gets treats.

"Find it" in general with food hidden. He's getting better at being persistent when I say "Find it!" He used to just look around where I was standing and give up.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I got him a kong. He seems to be having a great time with it. Love the way it bounces, moves and keeps him going after it. Introduced him to a 1 gallon milk jug without a lid. He had a blast.

We are going to try some nose games tomorrow.
Thanks for all the suggestions. It'll be fun for both all of us!

Ron
 
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