As your dog reaches around 3-7 years, their mind and body will be fully formed and in peak condition. The challenge now is keeping them amused. This is where stimulation through mental and physical play comes into its own.
Here are a few tried-and-tested methods that work.
Canine agility consists of a number of obstacles including dog jumps, tunnels, and weaves. Dogs are trained to leap over jumps, run through tunnels, and navigate weaves, in a specific order. All directed by the owner. So make sure your dog can follow basic commands such as sit, wait and recall before beginning.
You can join a local agility centre or build your own course using sturdy containers, cones, tunnels and jumps. Start the process slowly to build their confidence by guiding them through with treats or toys. They’ll soon get the hang of it and you’ll both have lots of fun.
Flyball is a canine team sport which consists of four dogs and their handlers. Each dog takes a turn to run down a lane with hurdles and fetch a tennis ball from the ball box at the end, before running back over the hurdles. Teams race against one another with the fastest the winner. The British Flyball Association has lots of useful information including about groups and events near you.
Try adding a twist to feed times by making your dog work for their food. Instead of their regular bowl, lay a trail of treats in the house and garden for them to sniff and follow. Add to the fun by hiding them in certain places. Most dogs will do anything for food, so make feed time mind and body exercise time too!
There are many interactive toys on the market including the popular rubber KONG toys, as well as interactive puzzles and treat dispensing toys. Make the most of everyday other toys too by rotating them. Don’t leave them out all day for your dogs to take at their leisure, give them periods of playtime with each one so they feel new. This will keep them interested and stop the potential for destructive boredom.
Spice up your dog’s daily walks by entering your regular park through a different entrance, walking the opposite way around, or hiding treats on the route that they have to sniff out. And take them on new walks to introduce new sights, sounds and smells. Dogs love to explore and use their nose, so choose places that smell good like woodland areas. You could also join a local dog walking group.
Now you have a well behaved trained dog, next time we share our travel tips on taking your dog away with you.
This blog is part of a series focusing on a dog’s life from puppy to pensioner! Read about how to look after your dog - from agility and grooming to neutering and zoning out.