Here are some creative ways to challenge your hounds mind, which has the additional benefit of being a fun exercise, and strengthening your bond.
You can teach an old dog new tricks! Work on a new trick together, here is a great resource for choosing one http://doggiebuddy.com/topics/Trainingtopics/traintopic3.html, You can exchange the use of a clicker for a healthy snack or if your dog eats kibble, make them work for half of it by learning something new.
Hide and Seek - Depending on how good your beloved companion is at the command ‘Stay’ you may need someone to hold their collar, or leash them up momentarily, whilst you pretend to hide a treat around the room, under pillows, behind the curtain etc, leave a treat in one of the hiding places, then ask them to find it.
You can play hide and seek with treats or something with a scent around the garden, or even on a walk. If you have more than one dog playing, they will go into hunt mode as they try and sniff it out first.
Give a family member a treat and let them show it to your eager companion before they go off and hide somewhere, tell your dog to go find them, then give them the treat once they have. Soon they will go find family members by name without a treat.
Find new places to walk, this is good for our benefit too, go old school and look at an OS map of where you plan to walk. (Microsoft Bing has an Ordnance Survey option on Maps) if you can print it off and follow on the map as you walk. You’ll find routes, footpaths and bridleways you never knew existed.
If you don’t want to join an agility class, or your beloved companion is not quite up to that, you can create a little obstacle course for yourself.
Socialise, it’s not just play dates for the kids, our dogs love to interact too. Plan to meet up at the park, or local woods, and get them running, exploring, sniffing out exciting things together. Watch how they play and greet other dogs, you’ll learn a lot about your dog by how they behave in a pack.
Build your own puzzle - dig out an old fairy cake or muffin tray and fill each hole with a treat, cover with a tennis ball, and let them work out how to remove the ball to get at the treat. Reduce the number of treats to make it more of a challenge.
If you have any other creative games you like to play with your beloved companion, we’d love to hear from you.