I'm a big believer that dogs need mental exercise just as much if not more than physical exercise, just like humans. If you think about it, most of us that have white collar jobs are perfect examples of this, or at the very least, that having something mental to preoccupy us will help us compensate for a lack of physical exercise ;)
Ok, so with that said, I have just moved from SUNNY Texas to COLD Ontario....on top of that, I went from having a house and a yard, to being in a 15th floor apartment.
I'm not sure I need to say this, but these 2 changes have had a huge impact on me, and even more so since my dog has joined me. Now instead of just letting her go into the yard every morning and every hour or so, I have to go down an elevator, and out into a common area to walk her until she does her business and also make sure I give her some exercise. This is made even harder when it's cold, because now I have to "gear up" for the cold with my 15 layers since I'm a whuss about the cold still, and then go through the wh*** walk. Anyways, the net result is that in the cold, Namie doesn't get to go on very long walks :(
Because I felt guilty about the lessened activity Namie has been getting, I've been playing more games with her inside, and thought this might help out other dog owners that don't know what kind of activities they can do with their dogs. Oh, let me first say that I have some unique challenges as well. Namie is a 70lb black lab, who has lots of energy and is full of love....I live in an apartment....ok, so all the games I come up with are with the idea of keeping collateral damage down to a minimal. I mean if I had a small dog, I'd be playing fetch inside with her, but with my setup it'd be a disaster.
Game #1: Indoor Fetch
The basic game is just like you play outside, but instead of throwing the ball or toy, you make it more like hide and seek. First you need to teach a few commands, and I'll post blogs on how to do each later, so this is kind of a placeholder:
Needed commands: Sit, Stay, Come, Leave It/Drop It, Go Get It, Go Get Your <blank>
Ok, so here's how you do it.
1. Have your dog sit and stay
2. Have the dog sit and stay, while you place the object you want them to fetch in front of them. Have them "leave it" until you tell them to Get It.
3. Now do the same thing, except make the dog go a few steps to get it. When the dog picks up the object, praise them and then say drop it if they know that command, and again praise when they've dropped it.
4. Continue this, slowly moving the object away. When the object is a few feet away, don't tell the dog to drop it immediately, instead make them come. It might take a few times for them to not drop it now that you're changing the sequence a little, but I find it helps them understand the individual commands better by changing the sequence sometimes as well..just one more challenge for them to figure out.
5. Put it all together where you are telling them to sit, stay, then place the object somewhere, then tell them to go get it or got get their <toy>, then come, then drop it.
6. Eventually the dog will know when you tell them to go get their toy, that you want them to go get it and bring it back so you won't need to say all the intermediary commands. This is when you can start stringing even longer events together because you can now say go get this, and go do that, and give it to someone or put it somewhere.
Anyways, that took longer than I thought, so I'll post more later. Please teach me any games you know, or anything I might have done better in my blog.
Have fun, and love your furry friends, but remember YOU'RE THE PACK LEADER!