A good friend of mine asked me to do this post, so here you go!
Dogs are EXTREMELY intelligent, maybe we should have them as our security. Need an example, Otto was at the park playing with his doggy friend several days ago. I was tossing a ball for him, which he loves, he is a ball dog. About anything else can be going on around him and he will ignore it because he is hunting his ball, he is crazy about it. So, after I threw the ball and he went and retrieved it, his friend came over to take it from him. Otto put it down, ran to another spot like he was "looking" for the ball. Once his friend was convinced he was still "looking" for it, he ran back over to his ball, picked it up and brought it to me. I laughed so hard! His friend was still looking for it while Otto fetched several times. We finally had to call his friend so she would stop looking for the ball that was not there. That is my Otto!
Because dogs are so smart, we need to stimulate their minds, not just give them exercise to stay healthy. Having them use their minds will also help them be more calm, it takes a lot of energy to think. Here are a few things I do use for Mungo and Otto.
*Long walks with them having to listen and watch Mom, it is so hard sometimes when another dog is barking or someone else is there. Good training and mind usage. Mom has had to become a better Mom because of this.
*Having Otto hunt his ball at the park. This can be tricky. I have to through the ball without him paying attention so he does not know where it it. I do manage this sometimes. This is one of the best mind stimulating games as well as using up some of his energy. The days when he hunts the most and runs the longest, he is the most calm. If your dog has a good ball and retrieve drive, I cannot recommend this enough. Mungo likes to hunt as well, he found a mouse in our garage and trapped for us.
*Playing tug aware. You do need to be careful with this one. Dogs play this game for dominance. Be sure you initiate the play, you win and you say when the play session is over. Both of mine love this game. I have a hard time playing with Otto, when I need a good workout this is what I do. We also have a plastic sled for snow that Hublet brought into the house. We will sit on it and allow Otto to pull us across the flour. It is so much fun! A great workout for Otto and he really has to think and use his noggin. Mungo plays along as well. It is great family fun time.
*Chewing. Dogs love to chew! I am sure most dog owners can give many examples of their beloved dog chewing something of value. If they do not have a chew toy, they will find their own, just like their own entertainment. If you do not have something for them, they will find it, this is what we do not like. Have plenty of chew toys and bones for them. Have one for different times. When you leave, they have a special toy with treats that they have to figure out how to get out and then can chew the toy. Once you come home, the toy is put away. This will also help create routine and something special when you are gone. Raw meaty bones are awesome. They can chew, entertain themselves and get really good nutritional benefits from the bone and marrow. Chewing is also a great stress reliever for dogs.
*Teaching them a new trick.
*Hiding toys or food for them to find. This can be done in many ways and for several things. When you are gone, having toys and treats hidden for them to find, is entertainment. It keeps them stimulated, using their minds and less of your house is destroyed. This can be used for fooding time. If you feed kibble, hide food piles throughout the house or yard. They have to think and this slows down their eating. You can hide raw food outside. Food can be hidden in toys. Mungo loves when I put his food in a kong type toy and freeze it. He is entertained for some time getting all the food out and then playing with the toy. One of the best things I have done for Mungo, Otto is not sure about this.
*Training. Training your dog to be obedient and follow your commands. This takes a lot of brain power. Making them lie down in a down stay where you tell them to and for as long as you tell them, for example. Works wonders for cleaning your house! Whatever it is you want your dog to do, train him.
There are always new toys and tips I do receive from the online trainer I receive info from. His web page is: www.dogproblems.com I cannot highly recommend Adam enough. If you are having dog problems, he is the man to go to. He did have a toy the other day for his new puppy that I want to try and find. It is a large ball you put sand or water into and then they can role it around and play.
Be creative with your dog. You do not have to go out and spend lots of money on toys and such. Make things up, use your mind as well. What are your dogs interests and build from there for toys and entertainment. This will make you both happier and more creative.
A side note, if you are going to be gone for the day, try and exercise your dog before you leave. I know this is not possible for everyone, but try if you can. Great time to get in your exercise in as well. Take your dog(s) for a walk, work on on some training, a combination for maximum benefits. Then feed. In the wild this is what they do, run, hunt, catch prey, eat prey and other food and then rest and sleep. If you can reenact this for them, they will be more calm throughout the day and less likely to be destructive. When you come home, make sure they get some exercise and stimulation. I do this for Mungo and Otto and they are so much happier and better behaved when I am gone, but also when I am home.
Above all, have fun with your dog. Get out and exercise and play together. Be creative in their toys, create a routine for them, stimulate their minds and they will love you unconditionally.
Saving the world one stick of butter at a time.