- Nosework – This emerging dog activity is gaining in popularity because any size, age, breed or build of dog can learn to enhance their sense of smell. Plus, it’s super-fun! Where competition Nosework is an option as an activity with your dog, a more casual scent game around the house might include a few rounds of “find the hidden piece of hot dog,” or “find the toy” and be rewarded with a game of tug. Not only do these scent games put both your dog’s brain sniffer to work, but they also serve as a workout for the brain, too, keeping your dog mentally exercised. Here’s a quick peek at Nosework:
- Food Puzzles – We are so fortunate to have a plethora of canine toys, puzzles, and brain teasers available on the market today. What did our dogs do for fun way-back-when, anyway?! One favorite food puzzle is the Wobbler, made by Kong Company. On days when it’s too steamy to exercise, put your dog’s kibble inside, and let him work it out piece by piece. Just like Nosework, his brain is working overtime to find the best way to secure that next kibble bit. To make it extra fun, there’s no shame in putting a little jackpot treat in there, too, like some cubed chicken or cheese. Check out the Kong Wobbler in action:
- Good ‘Ol Fashioned Training – Just like Nosework or puzzle toys, some good old fashioned training is also a great mental workout for your dog. Hand targeting is a great way to start. Once your dog masters hand-targeting, it’s like you have magic Jedi powers to move your dog anywhere you want! One great way to utilize this “power” and exercise your dog a little is to ask your dog to hand target (“Touch”), mark the behavior, and toss a delicious treat far away from your dog. He’ll likely take off running to find and gulp down the treat. Immediately ask for another Touch – after he’s done gulping, of course – and he’ll come running back towards you. After several repetitions, you may just find your dog tired from both the mental and physical exercise of this game. Here is a wonderfully concise video on teaching Hand Targeting by dog trainer, Andrea Arden:
No doubt, there are many, many more ways to challenge your dog’s brain and body when it’s too hot outside. Just remember, even though Fido might think it’s a good idea to exercise outside, as dog owners and advocates, we need to exercise a little brain power of our own and recognize when it’s a better idea to bring it inside.