There are many ways to keep your dog happy, stimulated, and enriched in day-to-day life. One of the most fun is through scenting games. Dogs naturally love to scent. Believe it or not, some dogs use not only their wet noses but also their ears to track a scent. Your dog smells literally thousands of times better than you or I. For comparison, dogs have about 50 smell receptors, while us humans only have one!
Scenting games are a wonderful way to keep your dog's desire to sniff engaged. In this blog, I'm going to go over a fun scenting game you can play with your dog.
The Game: Find it
1. To begin, do one of the following: either have someone hold your dog's leash, tether your dog to something sturdy, or simply put your dog in a sit-stay.
2. Show your dog you have something she likes. Place the item on the ground in front of the dog far enough away that she will have to move to get it. Walk back to the dog and take hold of the leash.
3. Your dog will immediately start to pull toward the item she wants. The moment she stops, say "Find it!" and release the leash. When your dog gets the item, say "yes!", praise your dog, and play with her.
4. Repeat this exercise, each time placing the item a little farther away. This game has multiple benefits as you can probably already tell: increasing the length of the sit-stay, teaching self-control, and eventually, as your distance increases, changing the search from a visual one to a scent-based one.
The trick with this game is to never let your dog get the item if he breaks from the stay. Always ask him to sit and stay a moment before permitting him to get the item. Be sure not to move too fast with this one. If your dog is unable to find the item, move closer to it yourself, but don't give the game away. Allowing your dog to find the item on his own will help build self-confidence. Be sure to let him win this one!
how to prepare for your new dog: a guide for all life stages And what the other blogs won't tell you
If you're thinking about adopting a dog, whether a puppy, adolescent, adult, or elder dog, there are a number of resources you want to have at your disposal to ensure the process runs as smoothly, safely, and successfully as possible.
The first stage of this process is finding your new forever friend. This is a process that should be undertaken with great care and concern for not only your own welfare as a new dog parent, but also the welfare of your dog. Be sure to thoroughly research the breeder, rescue, or individual with the dog you want to adopt.
If you're obtaining your new dog from a breeder or individual, be sure the breeding lines are sound, and that the dog is in good health. You'll also want to be sure that the conditions in which the dog is being raised are up to par. Be very careful as regards the language to any adoption contract you plan to sign (read the fine print!), and make sure you're comfortable with all terms and conditions contained therein. One particular contractual obligation that is becoming more and more common with household breeders is the right to breed your dog after adoption for a specified period of time.
If you're adopting your dog from a rescue organization at any life stage, be certain that the organization in question is employing force-free, humane handling methods with their rescued dogs. It is becoming more and more evident (and the science backs it up) that aversive handling methods (aka Cesar Milan, with protocols like pinning, rick-rolling, earthquaking, hitting, kicking and shouting in order to get obedience from dogs who may be traumatized in some way) and the use of aversive handling tools (pinch or prong collars, choke chains, etc) result in a massive uptick in the likelihood of human-directed reactive (aggressive) behaviors. Make sure you know how your rescue organization of choice is handling the dogs in their care. It could mean the difference between a happy, healthy, well-adjusted homelife with your new dog, and a dog who is shut down or severely reactive to humans or other dogs.
Having a solid understanding of the history of the dog you're adopting; where he's from, what he's experienced, and the types of traumas (if any) he's endured, will allow you to set yourself up with the support systems you need well in advance of adoption. Does the dog suffer from anxious behaviors related to alone-time? Hyperactivity or a need for near-constant stimulation? Has the dog been well-socialized? Questions like these will determine what you need to ensure a successful relationship going forward (scoping out a great doggy daycare or walking service, finding a humane dog trainer, a force-free groomer, etc) long before the dog enters your home.
Equipped with the information I've outlined above, you can then take a look at budgetary considerations. Can you afford an extensive fear-free protocol for your traumatized rescue? Are you aware of the behavioral changes a dog in heat, male or female, undergoes, and how other dogs around them may or may not react? Are you prepared to meet the medical needs of your new dog with a solid insurance plan? Are you willing to invest in the equipment you require to ensure sound management of your canine companion?
If you can answer yes to these questions, you're more than ready to welcome a dog at any life stage into your home, and into your life. With good preparation, forethought, and planning, the experience is bound to be one of the most rewarding you will ever experience.
By Guest Writer and All Dogs Dog Walker, Merita Kligerman
The dog park can be a fun and vibrant place for dogs and humans alike. It provides our dogs with opportunities to socialize with other dogs and people, and get lots of exercise via running and play. But in order to maintain a fun and safe environment, it is imperative that dog owners follow some basic yet crucial rules when bringing their dogs to the dog park.
Pay Attention to Your Dog(s). The enclosed space of a dog park and the presence of other dog owners may give you a false sense of security when you’re there with your furry friend. You may find yourself distracted by your phone or an engaging conversation with a fellow dog owner, but it is critical that you keep an eye on your dog and her interactions with other dogs and people. It takes a split second for a playful situation between dogs to turn into a frightening interaction. A dog may be triggered by a behavior they see as a threat—prolonged eye contact with another dog, for example—or the instinct to protect a toy or treat, which might result in warning behaviour, or even an altercation. Actively watching your dog can help ensure friendly and respectful canine play.
Listen and Communicate. I have come across numerous dog owners who come into a dog park already wearing earphones or earbuds. This is a potentially dangerous situation because it means they will not be able to receive crucial information from other dog owners. It is absolutely essential that open and clear communication exist between dog park patrons in order to relay information regarding a dog’s triggers, sensitivity to specific breeds, personality traits, reactivity to certain people, pre-existing injuries or sensitivitiess, and so on. Having this essential information from other dog owners can help you and your dog avoid potentially dangerous situations. And don’t be afraid to ask questions of other dog owners regarding their dogs. The more you know, the better your experience in the dog park will be.
Pick Up After Your Dog. So simple yet so necessary. If you are distracted and don’t see it happen, or if you choose to ignore it, you will be called out by other dog owners. There is no escape from this responsibility in the dog park. Just do it. It makes for a more pleasant experience for all dog park attendees, both human and canine.
Undoubtedly, going to the dog park can be a joyful and active experience for both you and your dog. Friendships develop, hilarious moments take place, and you can bring your dog home tired and happy after a number of play sessions with other dogs. But it’s up to us as dog owners to ensure that we are aware of what’s happening in the dog park, that we communicate with one another clearly and effectively, and that we all participate in maintaining a clean and healthy space.
Camille Salter is the founder of All Dogs Toronto and a certified, knowledge-assessed dog trainer (CPDT-KA). She is the author of two books on dog behavior: Pandemic Puppy, Decoding the Dog Park, and the Big Book of Dog Training.