November blues

Happy moments for cold and wet days

November blues-happy moments with a dog

By Anja Papenberg

"The days are getting shorter, it's getting colder and rainier. Autumn is here. For me, it's one of the most beautiful seasons and it's over far too quickly. What could be more relaxing than enjoying a long autumn walk through the colorful foliage with your dog? The temperatures are finally pleasant again for our dogs and if we are properly dressed, the rain doesn't bother us so much. But what happens when it's pouring with rain, stormy and not at all pleasant to be out and about? Do we still like the fall so much? We still have to take the dog out. In this case, I limit myself to the minimum. Short walks and then off home to keep the dog busy indoors.

I'd like to share a few ideas with you here:

Indoor foraging - so versatile

Foraging is always a good idea, because what dog doesn't like to use their nose and eat?

  • Spreading the food all over the apartment and letting them search for it is still the easiest option.
  • It becomes more difficult if you put the food in a toilet or kitchen roll, for example, and then close it into a packet. Now you can also hide these in the apartment and let the dog search for them. If the dog finds the packet, it now has to figure out how to get to the food. Once the dogs have got the hang of it, they love this game. Because our dogs also like to unpack things ;-)
  • You can take a box, fill it with various materials and then hide food in it too. The dog now has to dive for the goodies and, depending on the contents of the box, you can also desensitize your dog's sensitivity to noise. However, please make sure that the contents are not too small so that the dog cannot swallow them. You should also make sure that they are not sharp-edged or otherwise dangerous objects. Newspaper, wine corks, toilet rolls, large scraps of fabric, Tupperware, etc. are suitable.
  • Take old clothing (jeans, for example, are excellent) and roll up lining in it or put it in trouser pockets and trouser legs. If you then knot the clothes, your dog will have to work really hard to get to the food. And finally the trouser legs can be bitten into without getting into trouble ;-)
  • Towels and blankets are perfect for rolling up food in. If you take several towels and blankets at once, you'll have a real mountain that your dog can rummage through to his heart's content to get to the food.
  • Of course, there are also countless items in the shops that you can use: Food ball, sniffer carpet, intelligence toys etc..

And if you are worried that your dogs are getting too fat, just take the normal food. It's much more exciting for our dogs to "hunt" for their food than to simply have it placed in a bowl in front of them.

Treasure hunt or the search for small objects

When searching for small objects, your dogs learn, as the name suggests, to search for and indicate small objects. And the latter is most important here. This is because the dog indicates the object with its nose and remains in this position until it is released and rewarded by you.

The set-up

  • Once you have decided on a suitable object (rubber seal, domino, wooden dowel, etc.), the next step is to make it as exciting as possible for your dog. To do this, hold the object in front of your dog and reward any interest in it. It doesn't matter whether you work with a clicker or a marker word. Make sure that you reward as precisely as possible. The aim should be for the dog to touch the object with its nose. As you progress, delay the reward so that your dog has to keep its nose on the object for longer and longer.
  • Now you can slowly move towards the ground with the object, as the reward should be given in the down position. The dog should also keep its nose on the object in the down position until you stop and reward it.
  • Then move the object from time to time and change its position. As soon as you have the feeling that your dog is really leaving his nose on the object reliably, you can introduce a signal (for example "Show rubber").
  • If this works well, you can start to place the object further and further away from the dog and then hide it. You may need to make sure that the object is well fixed at the beginning so that the dog cannot nudge it away with its nose or move it with its paw.

A wonderful and very strenuous activity that will keep your dog very busy. If you are interested in this fascinating activity, please contact us.

By the way, you can also teach your dog to find the keys, the remote control or your cell phone.

The dog as a household helper

What if your dog could help you put away the laundry or tidy up? Great, isn't it?

It's an advantage if your dog already knows how to fetch.

The set-up

  • Take your dog's favorite object and let him retrieve it into your hand a few times.
  • If your dog reliably releases the object into your hand, you can now hold it over a basket, for example, and when your dog drops the object, pull your hand away so that the object lands in the basket.
  • Now pull your hand back earlier and earlier until you no longer need it.
  • If this works well and reliably, you can now add the appropriate signal such as "tidy up".
  • Once your dog has understood that the objects must land in the basket, gradually move away from the basket so that you no longer have to sit directly in front of it.
  • Now you can spread several toys around the house and let your dog tidy up.
  • For more advanced dogs, this can also be done with laundry, which the dog has to put in the drawers in the cupboard.

An active activity that is especially fun for retrieving dogs.

Fun in the underground car park

Yes, you heard right. I also use the underground garage or a cellar that is big enough.

The garage is great for retrieving because there is enough space. There are also hiding places, although you should of course be careful not to damage other people's property.

20 minutes of intensive retrieving training in combination with all kinds of signals that the dog knows can be very efficient.

Here is an example:

  • Have your dog wait next to you in any position (but make sure that this position is not changed, i.e. held).
  • Throw a retrieve object to the front and reward the dog for waiting.
  • Now, depending on your level of training, walk towards the object with your leashed/free dog, circle it once and return to the starting position.
  • Once there, make your dog wait again and fetch the object yourself.
  • Now turn 180 degrees together in the other direction.
  • Your dog gets a stay again and you throw the object forward again (if it is still too heavy for your dog, you can also put the object down).
  • Now you walk towards the object together again.
  • When you reach the object, bring your dog back into a wait position and go back to the starting point on your own. Now call your dog to you first and then send him to the retrieved object as a reward.

This scenario is infinitely expandable and changeable. There are no limits to your imagination here and you can really reinforce the basic signals. The advantage is that there are not so many distractions in the underground car park and the dog can concentrate better. However, make sure that you proceed in small steps and reward your dog every now and then.

The bag of tricks

How about using the cold and gray season to teach your dog a few tricks. You can find lots of ideas on the internet or in books. I don't want to introduce you to a specific trick here, but rather to trick training in general.

There are various methods for teaching your dog tricks. I personally like to use so-called shaping. With shaping, the dog comes to the solution itself through trial and error. Desired behavior is rewarded so that the dog shows this behavior more often. All other behaviors come to nothing. It is important that you have good timing here so that you can really confirm the dog for the desired behavior and he then shows it more often.

The so-called clicker or a marker word is particularly suitable for this. Both are, so to speak, a promise of the reward and you can use them to confirm to the dog, even from a distance, that the action performed immediately before is desired.


I want my dog to nudge a ball with his nose. First I give him a start signal that he can now go ahead and try it out. As my dog does not yet know what I want him to do, every tiny step in the direction of the desired behavior is confirmed. In this case, just a glance in the direction of the ball. I now confirm the gaze towards the ball so often until the dog looks towards the ball more and more often and faster. Then my gaze is no longer enough and I wait until he perhaps moves in the direction of the ball. Now I reward this behavior several times in a row. And so on. I repeat the whole thing until the dog reliably shows the behavior I expect. Now I can introduce another appropriate signal, which the dog then responds to by performing the trick.

A few examples of tricks: Wave, lie down or bang, give a paw, high five, shame on you, give a kiss.

The ideas are of course not exhaustive and are only intended to give you a little food for thought. If you have any great suggestions of your own or have tried out any of the activity ideas presented here, we would of course be delighted to receive your links on social media. @anja.papenberg & @schweizmithund

I wish you a wonderful fall and with the right clothes, it can also be a lot of fun outside. But our dogs are also happy about a day chilling on the couch ;-)."

Your Anja & Sammy

Click here for more information about Anja Papenberg, Martin Rütter DOGS

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