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?
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.
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.
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:
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