Christmas is an ideal time to relax and enjoy spending more time with your dog. Here, Forever Hounds Trust’s Susan McKeon passes on some of her great ideas for fun activities you can do with your canine pal.
Try out fun dog activities
Christmas is a great time to try out fun activities like trick training, brain games and food puzzles – such as the muffin tin game – and ‘treasure hunts’ for hidden (dog friendly) food or toys.
The muffin tin game
The muffin tin game is a cheap and fun way for your dog to use their brain. To play the game, you will need:
- A 6-well muffin tin and 6 tennis balls
- Some tasty food rewards
To play the game:
- First get your dog used to getting a food treat from the muffin tin, by dropping in a food reward into each well and then allowing your dog to eat the reward. Do this several times, to make sure your dog is happy with placing their nose in the tin.
- Then, cover 2 or 3 of the food rewards with a tennis ball or a piece of scrunched up paper
- Encourage your dog to use their nose and paws to dislodge the balls to reveal and eat the food rewards
- When your dog is readily removing 2-3 tennis balls, then cover all the wells with a tennis ball.
Training tip: To help ensure that your dog doesn’t get frustrated, make sure that you keep hold of the muffin tin, or put it on a non-slip surface.
Create a ‘lucky dip’ box
Put all those cardboard present boxes and brown packing paper to good use and create a lucky dip box for your dog to enjoy.
If your dog likes to destroy items, providing them with a number of items that they can safely destroy and have fun destroying – such as the cardboard boxes (with any staples removed), the cardboard inside of kitchen roll/toilet roll, old newspapers etc – will help preserve your belongings.
Making a ‘lucky dip’ box is easy and provides a great outlet for your dog.
Take a suitable box and within it, place a stuffed Kong®, a few chews, a favourite toy, and bits of kibble, raw carrot – whatever your dog likes to eat. Putting a chew inside the inside of an old kitchen roll tube, wrapping a toy in several sheets of newspaper…the contents are only limited by your imagination and what is safe to destroy.
Your dog will then have to use both mental and physical energy to empty the box and should enjoy (calmly) eating a chew or Kong® at the end of it. You will have some clearing up to do, but it is better to clean up items you have provided your dog to destroy, rather than those you haven’t!
Training tip: If you’re worried that your dog may eat the cardboard or paper, do supervise them while they’re enjoying their lucky dip box.