By Nikki Senecal
Our Stella is part border collie. You can’t really tell by looking at her, but her high energy level gives her heritage away! We’ve had to come up with some ways to help her burn off her energy when the weather prevents a visit to the dog park or the sun has gone down (and her energy level has gone up).
- Obedience Class – You can (and should!) continue to review the exercises you do in obedience class at home. A few sessions of 10-15 minutes each day will help redirect some energy. Start with exercises that require more movement like “touch,” “heel,” and “spin.” (Spin is very easy to teach. This link provides good direction.) Move on to less physical tasks like “leave it,” “sit-stay,” and “down-stay” once some of their energy has been released.
- Hide and Seek – Once your dog has reliable recall, this game can be fun for the whole family. One family member holds the dog while the other(s) hides somewhere in the house. The hider then calls for the dog, “Stella! Come!”—or if your dog knows other commands, alternate. (We use “treat, treat, treat”—but if you use this one, you always have to have a treat!) Dogs have a harder time establishing where a sound is coming from than humans do, so if your dog seems confused call her name again or say “here” so she can locate you. Don’t repeat the command. Give her a small reward when she finds you. Two or more family members can move about the house hiding in different rooms. Hint: if you have a second floor, be sure to get the dog running up and down the stairs as much as possible! (Also, if your dog is afraid of the bathroom, she will still be afraid of the bathroom while you are playing this game. Don’t hide in there!)
- Fun Agility – You may not have the time or inclination to compete in agility trials with your dog, but that’s no reason you can’t practice agility. All it takes is a couple of buckets and a leftover piece of quarter round to make an agility jump for your dog (ask me how I know). Teach your dog “over,” and she’ll have a new trick to keep her occupied. A hoola hoop can substitute for a tire jump (depending on the size of your dog). A 40” square table from the thrift shop can function as a pause table and some stakes can make a weave course. Click here for more details.
- Three Card Monte – Dogs are the only other mammals besides humans who reliably understand pointing. Place a treat under a cup and put it in a lineup with other cups. Point the dog in the right direction and see if he can “find” his treat. Of course, the nose knows! (In this case, unlike three card monte version humans play in the street, spread the cups apart so that it’s easier to locate the smell of the treat.)
- Working Hard for Her Dinner Treat dispensing toys offer an intellectual—and physical—puzzle for Fido. Anything you can do to get pet dogs thinking will help transfer their energy. Two that you can find at our house include the Kong Stuff-a-Ball and the Omega Tricky Treat Ball. The BusterCube comes recommended as well.
Two books that are in our library include: