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Improve Your Dog’s To-do List

It’s hard enough to keep up with your own to-do list, but do you ever stop to think about your dog’s daily schedule?

If your best friend doesn’t receive plenty of mental and physical stimulation, your dog’s own to-do list could be a real yawner. That’s because, just like people, your dog can get stuck in a dull rut. It might seem like bliss to have nothing to do all day long, but it soon grows old for both humans and their furry pals.

It won’t wreak havoc with your own schedule to improve your canine chum’s daily routine. Check out our schedule makeovers that could put the spark back into your dog’s daily life. Here’s a look at the common signs of a bored dog – and the fixes:

Before

Doggie boredom surfaces in several behaviors. You might recognize your pal in one of these types:

  • The Couch Potato: “Some dogs have a natural tendency to rest and sleep,” says Daphne Robert-Hamilton, a certified pet dog trainer in Morgan Hill, Calif. But if your dog’s routine involves little more than a good morning snooze on its bed or the sofa followed by a midday snack, then an afternoon nap and a sleepy, yawn-filled greeting when you arrive home, it’s probably time for a makeover.
  • The Piner: This dog spends its morning pining for your return, then waits longingly by the door all afternoon.
  • The Digger: Left to its own devices, the digger happily starts its day excavating your favorite rosebush, then spends the afternoon tunneling under the back fence.
  • The Chewer: That sock you dropped while carrying clothes from the dryer? It’s fair game for the chewer, which could spend much of its day gnawing on everything it shouldn’t.

“It’s not that we need to always supply our dogs with activities all the time,” says Robert-Hamilton. “A lot of it has to do with managing their environment, giving them plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation.”

After

If you’re ready to make over your dog’s daily routine, it helps to think like a dog, advises Laurie Luck, owner of the Maryland-based Smart Dog University and president of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Luck continually looks at everyday objects as potential entertainment and mental stimulation for her dogs. “Ask yourself, ‘How can my dog have fun with this?'” says Luck. Of course, she says, you’ll want to make sure that the objects you use are safe and that your dog won’t be able to create more of a mess than you can handle with good humor.

Acknowledging your dog’s basic nature helps, as well, when trying these makeovers:

Off The Couch
If your dog is a couch pup, you needn’t try to put it through Olympian feats each day. Simply add an interesting walk in the morning or evening, varying your route, says Luck. Try playing games with modest obstacles, having your dog jump over a downed tree branch if it’s able to, for example. “Add a walk guided by your dog,” advises Luck. “Go wherever he wants to sniff. I think they get a real kick out of that. It’s encouraging enough for couch potatoes.”

Lonesome No More
You may be able to satisfy a couch potato with an intriguing evening walk, but how do you help a piner? Dogs with severe separation anxiety may need professional behavioral work, says Robert-Hamilton. If your dog is simply a bit lonely, think about having a friend, neighbor or dog walker come and take it for a stroll during your time away. Doggie daycare might be an alternative. Adopting another dog, if possible, could also help to ease your pet’s loneliness, along with your own.

Entertained
For piners, diggers and chewers looking for something to do during the day, both Luck and Robert-Hamilton suggest investing in a KongTime device. It releases Kongs – little red toys – stuffed with food or treats. With a timer, you control when the Kongs are dispensed. “Some dogs eat all their meals out of the bowl,” says Luck, who finds the KongTime a simple way to vary your dog’s routine. “With the stuffed Kongs, dogs have to actually work for their food. It gives your dog something to do in that eight-hour stretch when you’re gone, and it’s better than just 30 seconds of your dog inhaling its food.” Other suggestions include the Canine Genius Leo puzzle, which can also be stuffed with a treat, and the Gazillion Fetch a Bubble machine, which – believe it or not – blows bacon-scented bubbles.

Other enrichment ideas include hiding a treat in an empty tissue box or placing a stuffed Kong inside a paper lunch sack, then twisting it closed. These provide your dog with a puzzle to investigate and solve during the day. If you roll up balls of newspaper but only place a treat inside one ball, your dog will have to work to find the food reward. One word of caution: These ideas work best in a single-dog household. You don’t want your pups competing for treats.

Once you’re home, take the time to play similar games, say the experts. Have your dog guess which disposable cup hides a treat, or create a tunnel with blankets draped over kitchen chairs and encourage your dog to walk through it by offering a treat at one end. If your dog is a digger, block off a corner of your yard as a legal digging area, suggests Robert-Hamilton. Find an Earthdog event, designed for multiple breeds, such as dachshunds, that were originally bred as underground hunters. During such events, your pal can dig and wander through tunnels, Robert-Hamilton says. The American Kennel Club and other organizations post information online about upcoming Earthdog events.

by Kim Boatman – Pet People’s Place

Posted: Just One More Pet

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, animal behavior, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pet Health, responsible pet ownership | , , , , | Leave a comment

Busy Pets Are Happy Pets: Fun Ways to Keep Your Pet Active

Dog

It seems like the most natural thing in the world—our pets need food, water, medical care and lots of love. But dogs and cats have other needs, too. Our furry friends need ample physical exercise and mental stimulation to lead truly full and happy lives.

“They need jobs,” says Kristen Collins, CPDT, ASPCA Animal Trainer. Dogs and cats need to stay busy and engaged, but unfortunately most pets are unemployed—they sit at home, chronically bored, waiting for their humans to return from work. And as we all know, an idle pet can quickly turn into a naughty pet when restlessness becomes overwhelming.

“With nothing to do, dogs and cats are forced to find ways to entertain themselves,” explains Kristen. “Their activities of choice often include behaviors we find problematic, like excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.”

To prevent behavior and health problems, Kristen recommends the following physical and mental workouts—both when you’re there to join the fun and when your pet is home alone.

  • Move it! Healthy adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a day. Jogging, swimming and playing at the dog park are all great ways to burn excess energy.
  • Get Their Games On: Engage in structured games, like fetch and tug-of-war—they’re not only great exercise but also teach your pet impulse control and strengthen the bond between you.
  • Engage in the Hunt: Keep your dog occupied when he’s home alone by giving him a food-stuffed puzzle toy, like the Kong, or some tasty chew toys.
  • Let’s Get Physical: Like their canine counterparts, cats also need plenty of aerobic exercise. Get kitty fit with rousing play sessions, such as chase and fetch with furry toys, small balls or toy mice.
  • Feline Pastimes: Encourage your cat’s favorite home alone activities, including bird watching, exploring paper bags or boxes, watching cat videos or spending time in secure outdoor enclosures.
  • Teach Your Cat New Tricks! Felines are quick studies and can learn practical skills like coming when called, sitting up, rolling over and even using the toilet!

Kristen adds: “The bottom line is that you’re responsible for enriching your pet’s life. Providing opportunities to exercise your cat or dog’s mind and body will keep her healthy and happy—and enhance your relationship, too.”

For more information about enriching your pet’s life, please check out expert advice from our Virtual Pet Behaviorist.

Source:  ASPCA

Posted: Just One More Pet

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August 30, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pet Health, pet products, Pets, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments