Whose Walk Is It Anyway?

Dude and Rebekah

How to Leash Train Your Dog Using the Loose Leash Method

I’m currently re-fostering Dude, a yellow lab mix that has become the sunshine in my life. He is a loving and intelligent 2-year-old, intent on pleasing and having fun. He’s been with Dogs 2nd Chance for about a year now and while he was very well-cared for, he hadn’t had the opportunity to experience formal obedience training or individual care and attention. This is common for rescue dogs considering the overpopulation of pets in the south and the filled-to-the-brim rescue groups and shelters.

The solution to that problem is more fosters, but that isn’t what this post is about so I digress; however, if I just gave you an aha! moment, click here to learn how you can also foster a rescue dog.

If you’ve read my previous post about Dude not wanting to come inside then you know that learning how to walk on a leash is a HUGE improvement for this pup. His confidence levels have increased tenfold in the last week; he has mastered the command sit, is no longer “head shy”, has built up confidence with meeting strangers and is now ruling the roost.

Now that he is comfortable in our home, we decided to move forward with his training. Dude’s biggest hurdle was walking on a leash. The first time we took him out on a leash was the equivalent of putting a 5-year-old behind the wheel of a car and telling him to drive. He had no clue what to do with this blue cloth thing attached to his neck other than to pull it and to pull it hard.

This is Dude after 10 minutes of Loose Leash Training:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzOsgMdLm0A&feature=youtu.be

As you can see, he is walking calmly by my side while the leash is dangling loosely. My grip is soft on the handle but clutched just enough to grab tightly if the need arises.

Dude learned how to walk on a leash without the use of a choke collar, correction collar, shock collar or any other type of force training.

The Theory

To understand how to train your dog using the Loose Leash Method, it’s important that you first understand these three concepts:

1. Positive Reinforcement Training

In short, Positive Reinforcement Training is based on the idea that an action that is positively rewarded will be repeated. For dogs, a reward is praise or a treat; therefore, when your dog does what you want him to do, you reward with either praise or a treat. This encourages a positive and healthy relationship with your dog where he will want to please you because it’s rewarding, not out of fear or pain.

2. Associative Learning

Dogs don’t really understand when they’ve done something wrong or right, they only understand the association between what they’ve done and what happens afterwards.

For example:

Toto pees in the bedroom. Mom comes running in yelling, screaming, rubs Toto’s face in the urine and then sends him outside.

Toto’s thoughts:

I needed to pee, and oh, it felt so relieving to do it! But Mommy yelled at me and sent me outside so I guess peeing in front of her is bad. Next time, I’ll pee where she can’t see me.

Take Two:

Toto pees in the house. Mommy sighs, cleans it up, ignores Toto and then takes him outside. When Toto pees outside, Mommy gives him a treat and praises him, every single time.

His thoughts?

When I peed inside, Mommy ignored me. When I peed outside, she gives me treats and praise; therefore, I will do it outside because it’s more fun!

You seem skeptical. Try it, you’d be surprised how quickly it works.

Note: It will go even faster if you stay one step ahead of the game and take your dog outside frequently so he never even has the chance to learn how to pee inside.

So how does this tie into leash training?

Simple. First of all, when your dog pulls on the leash, you shouldn’t pull back.

Think about it. If someone grabbed your arm and pulled you, what would your reaction be? To pull back away from them!

Secondly, when you yank back and yell at your dog, he/she is only learning that walking beside you is unpleasant. Just like Toto learned that peeing in front of his Mom is unpleasant. Your dog is not understanding what you are asking of him, just that he doesn’t like what happens afterwards.

Your dog needs to learn that walking beside you is MUCH more fun than pulling you down the street. Just like Toto learned that peeing outside is much more fun than peeing inside.

I mean, can you really blame them? All the smells, sights, sounds and people, and you’re walking way to slow for them to enjoy it all. I mean, whose walk is it anyway?

With positive reinforcement training and associative learning, walking beside you has to be more rewarding than all those sights, sounds and smells up ahead.

3. Loose Leash Training

Loose Leash Training combines positive reinforcement and associative learning techniques.

You are going to teach your dog that walking beside you is more fun than walking ahead of you and that when the leash is loose he gets to walk.

Basically, if the leash is loose then your dog is allowed to move forward towards the sounds, sights and smells he wants. If the leash is being pulled or is tight, he doesn’t get to move another inch.

Your dog will learn to associate a loose leash with moving forward and that being beside you is rewarding.

This is going to take time and patience. Be prepared to not even make it to the end of your drive way on the first go around.

Ready? Here we go!

Supplies:

  • Collar
  • Cloth Standard Leash (not the retractable leash or chain leash)
  • High Reward Treat (pieces of meat or cut up hot dogs- it should be something that will gulp down quickly)
  • Rewards (or objects of desire) when walking a dog are treats, a bush, another dog, the person walking on the other end of the street, that fire hydrant and the smelly spot by the mailbox. Use all of these things as a reward for your dog. If he walks calmly beside you and the leash is loose, then he gets to go check those places out.

Directions:

Give your dog the sit command and attach the leash to his collar. Give him a treat and praise.

Stand beside him and do not move forward until he remains seated patiently. When you are ready, say HEEL and move towards the door.

As soon as your dog lurches ahead of you (which he will), say “ack, ack”, and then stand as still as a tree and do not move.

Don’t even blink! Just kidding, you can blink.

Once your dog realizes you aren’t going anywhere, he will either turn towards you or look at you. If he makes any movement that indicates he is tuning into you for even a second, pull out a treat and hold it out to him and say come. He should come towards you for the treat which places him (relatively) back into the heel position.

Once there, say heel and move forward again.

Repeat this every time he lurches ahead of you and the leash goes tight. Only move forward when the leash is loose and he is near you. Don’t obsess over whether or not he is perfectly placed at your side like an AKC Championship dog, baby steps, people.

If he isn’t responding to your TREE stance, you can also BACKPEDAL. When he lurches forward, say “ack, ack” and start walking in the opposite direction. When he inevitably has to follow you and reaches your side again, then turn around and walk towards the door. Repeat this circle dance until the leash is loose as you walk towards the door.

Warning: You may become dizzy.

Your dog will learn that if the leash is tight he either doesn’t get to move forward or goes farther away from his object of desire (in this case, the door), but if the leash is loose he gets closer.

Once you reach the door, have your dog sit again. You should always, in every circumstance, be the first to enter or leave your house. This shows your dog that you are the leader. Repeat the above steps until your dog waits calmly while you exit the door.

Now that your outside you can show the neighborhood how talented you are at pretending to be a tree and dancing in circles!

Perform the Tree or Backpedal maneuvers through out your entire walk. It may be tiring, you may become impatient, you may never make it to the end of the driveway, but if you persist your dog WILL learn that he only gets to move forward if he is walking beside you.

Recap:

  • You only move forward if the leash is loose and your dog is near your side.
  • When your dog moves ahead of you and the leash is tight, say “ack, ack”, and stand still OR start walking in the opposite direction. Only turn back around when he is back by your side and the leash is loose again.
  • Give your dog treats whenever he is successfully walking beside you or allow him to sniff a mailbox.

Happy Walking!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

With smiles,

Rebekah Olsen

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Happy Tail- Monkee

You asked and I’m delivering! Remember Monkee, the little wiry guy that inspired my For Good post? Well, here’s an update from his new Dad, Dick Scaggs. It is certainly quite the Happy Tail.

Dear Dogs 2nd Chance, 

Dear God! What have I done?

Once upon a time I had a neat, tidy house, just my 11-year-old dog, Blue, and myself. Blue and I were both slowing down and had a nice, comfortable existence. It was easy breezy.

Then I got an idea!

I decided it was time that Blue needed company during the day, a new buddy to replace his pal Duke, who died from cancer a year or so ago. I started researching rescue dogs. I absolutely no way, no how, wanted to deal with a puppy and all that confusion. I wanted a mature 2 to 5 year old that was young enough to play, but past that puppy nonsense.

photo(4)Then I saw Monkee (4 month old puppy) on Dogs 2nd Chance Rescue website. Dang, if he wasn’t the same mix of Wirehair/Lab as old Duke.

Love at first sight.

One small problem: I was in Omaha. Monkee was in Memphis. Oh well! Let’s give it a shot. I offered to give Monkee a home if there was some way that he and I could be brought together without too much stress on him, the folks at Dogs 2nd Chance, or myself.

Initially, it sounded doubtful, but I filled out my paperwork, and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that Monkee’s foster parents, Rebekah and Matt from Memphis, were actually part of a very respectable Omaha family. It was meant to be.

Today.

I no longer have a neat, tidy house. A veritable cyclone of long legged, sloppy tongued fur has totally disrupted my life. Blue is in therapy. My shoes are either missing in action or have gnawed edges. I am gently reminded two or three times a night by paws slapping my mattress that it is time to go out. I am a wreck.

memph&blue2But a funny thing! I laugh daily at this goofy clown who has been renamed Memphis.

Yes, he flies around the house like a Wizard of Oz monkey.

Yes, he ate a decorative couch pillow last night.

Yes, he likes to wait until I have settled into my recliner before he flings himself into my lap.

Yesterday, he attempted to jump into my lap from behind and over the back of the recliner tipping the recliner and me over to where I was staring at the ceiling, my feet in memph6the air, with slobbery dog licking and chewing on me. (I believe he thinks my chin whiskers are some kind of furry rodent that needs some sort of tormenting or eradicating.)

All good puppies finally run out of steam.

As I write this, both my dogs, young Memphis and old Blue, lie snoring at my feet.

I am a happy man. I laugh and laugh heartily every day.

Yes, we still have some puppy training issues, but Memphis is teaching and giving me much more than I could ever give him.

Thank you Rebekah, Matt, and everyone at Dogs 2nd Chance for giving this gift of unconditional love to me.

Dick Skaggs, Omaha, NE

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Dick, grandson, Hunter, Blue, and Monkee

If you have a Happy Tail to share, please feel free to send your story to us!

With smiles,

Rebekah Olsen

Adoptable Castaway- Rufus

Rufus

This is Dogs 2nd Chance Rescue Blog’s first Adoptable Castaway Bio!

Meet Rufus, a Minpin Mix being fostered by one of our volunteers, Ellen. Help Rufus find his forever home by sharing this post.

About Rufus

IMG_0617The power of pet therapy is often stronger than any medication, and if Rufus was a type of medicine, he’d be no generic brand.  Rufus is a 2-year-old, 20 lb, full grown Minpin mix that was found in the Kroger parking lot the day before Thanksgiving. He had been living there for 2 months, but was counting his blessings when a nearby nursing home took him under their wing. Without the love and care of the elderly and nursing home staff, Rufus would not have survived, and now he is ready to return the favor.

Rufus is house broken, kennel trained, and leash trained, but most importantly he’s a good listener. When you talk to Rufus, he tilts his head in understanding and crosses his paw like your own personal therapist.

When I met with Rufus to discuss his perfect, forever home, I somehow ended up lying on the couch, spilling my own heart to the furry guy, but after patiently waiting for me to finish, Rufus responded,

“I’ve had a pretty hectic upbringing, so I’d prefer the quiet life with a single pet parent or an older couple that needs a little love. Kids, cats, dogs…they’re fine, but aren’t really my cup of tea. I want to spend the rest of my life helping and loving someone….and a few squeaky toys would be nice too. Make sure you write that in…squeaky toys”.

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If you’re in need of a caring companion then Rufus is your guy! Adopt him today!

With smiles,

Rebekah Olsen

Happy Tail-Amanda

Amanda

Nothing makes a rescue volunteer happier than hearing about a successful adoption story.

Here at Dogs 2nd Chance we take care that the castaways we rescue are loved and cared for during the time they are with us, but it’s the families that take them in that truly make the difference. We couldn’t continue our rescue efforts if people like Lora, here, didn’t open their hearts and homes up to our pups.

When a dog is adopted out, 4 lives are saved: the castaway, the foster parent, the adopted parent, and another castaway. We strive to match each of our castaways with the perfect family and when we do, it opens up another spot in our organization to save another dog’s life.

This Happy Tail comes from Lora Cornelius. She adopted one of our trailer park puppies. 

photo-5Here is a picture of Amanda that we adopted the last Saturday in January.  She has grown longer and taller. We have renamed her Zelda Mae. She is 17 weeks old. Four months on the 19th and she weighs 22.7 lbs!  She loves her older pit-bull brother, Brewster and older Australian Shepherd brother, Charlie. Brewster keeps up with her and worries about her. So we have a built in babysitter for her.  She has lots of bones and sleeps in her crate with a blanket, one of my t shirts, and lots of rawhide chew sticks.

She is such a sweet young lady.

At the same time she is spunky and mischevious.  She doesn’t just wiggle her tail, but her whole backside when she greets you.  She always has a happy prance.

She wanted to say hello and we wanted to thank you because our whole family adores her- two legged and four legged!!! Thank you for rescuing her for our family!!!!

Sincerely,

Lora Cornelius

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Special thanks to Lora and her family! If you’d like your own Happy Tail, visit here to view our other adoptable dogs that are just waiting for their perfect home.

If you’ve adopted a rescue dog in the past, share your Happy Tails story in the comments below!

With smiles,

Rebekah Olsen

The Foster Diet

Shed 10 pounds, energize your body, and feel great in just 7 Days!

You’ve tried the lemon diet, the coffee diet, the starvation diet, and the chocolate cake diet, and still nothing has worked! But don’t give up yet, there’s hope that you can shed those extra 10 pounds by the weekend and look great in that little black dress again.

Dr. Spot Ruffington recently released his new diet, called the Foster Diet, and by following these 10 simple steps you can join millions of others who are losing weight and losing it FAST.

Register Here:

Visit Dogs 2nd Chance Rescue Group and fill out a Foster Application to join the Foster Diet Team. No fees, no long term commitment, and no credit card required…however, donations are accepted once you’ve realized how awesome this diet really is.

Pick Up Your Supplies:

Once The Foster Diet Support Team has assigned you a Rescue, arrive at the local park to pick up your dog. While there, you’ll need to walk the dog around the park for at least 30 minutes so you can get to know each other. Because your rescue will most likely not be leash trained, he or she will pull, tug, and drag you around the park. Don’t worry! This is all a normal part of the weight loss program. By the end of your walk you will have burned 200 calories!

You’re already on your way to losing weight! Now, it’s time to get started!

Follow these 10 Simple Steps:

1. Wake up each morning no later than 5 am to take your overly excited and energetic foster pup outside where he will inevitably be ready to play a furious game of fetch.

2. Go outside and inside at least 30 times each day to potty train your foster dog.

3. Chase your foster dog around the house for about 15 minutes while trying to get your underwear or sock back. The object may change from day to day, but you will still need to perform this chasing exercise regardless of how precious or not precious the item he/she has is.

4. Take your foster dog on a 30 minute to 1 hour walk around the neighborhood, then return and take your own resident dog on that same walk. Do not take them on a walk together, you will burn twice the calories and protect the lives of others by doing two separate walks.

5. Spend at least 1 hour each day sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping the dirty, dog hair covered floors. Then vacuum your couch, wash your sheets, lint roller the duvet cover, and pick up all the dog toys. Repeat this step one hour later when the house is dirty again.

6. Skip dinner at least 3 times this week. This will be easier than you think because you will be too preoccupied doing all of the above steps to remember to eat.

7. Drink half a bottle of wine each night. This will cause you to forget that there are one to two dogs destroying your home and barking so loudly you can’t watch the new episode of The Walking Dead. In the morning, your body will be dehydrated making your tummy look flatter.

8. Avoid going out with friends or family members because you cannot leave your foster dog alone for more than one hour. If you aren’t going out then you are less likely to eat over processed, high fat foods.

9. Go to bed at an unreasonably early hour because you are so exhausted. More sleep equals more energy for the next day to do these steps again!

10. Find your Foster Dog his forever home then spend the next day curled up in a ball mourning his absence. You will be too distraught to eat which will help you shed those last 2 pounds.

It’s that easy, fast and effective! You have now lost 10 pounds in only 7 days while also saving a dog’s life!

If you’d like to shed more, simply repeat these steps the following week with a new foster dog. To sign up for the Foster Diet, visit dogs2ndchance.org

With smiles,

Rebekah Olsen

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This post does not contain any information that is researched, true, healthy, or in any shape or form, recommended for an actual diet. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this post as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

Patience, You Must Have

photo-3Meet Dude, our new foster pup. Dude is a yellow lab mix that was found in an abandoned neighborhood in Millington, Tenn. as a young lad. For the past year, he lived with Lin, one our rescue volunteers, but Midas (our Mastiff) decided he needed a new friend after Monkee left, and asked Dude to come stay with us for awhile. Dude was hesitant at first, but thought Midas seemed pretty cool so he agreed.

You normally would have seen a Castaway Profile on this guy already, but before we could even tuck him into bed on the first night, he received an adoption form! This weekend he will be sleeping over at his potential new family’s house so cross your fingers that it’s a perfect match and he will be there to stay!

The reason I’m writing about Dude is because even in just the three days he has been with us, he’s already taught me something new…patience.

Everyone has various levels of patience, some more than others. For myself, patience has never been a particular virtue of mine, I move quick and I expect everyone to move quickly with me…In the words of Margaret Thatcher,

I’m extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.

Dude, on the other hand, was intent on me learning some patience, and so he decided to pretend to be afraid of the house so I could get in some practice.

The first day we brought Dude home, we weren’t able to get him to come inside for even just a second. Thankfully, it was a beautiful spring day so we propped open our back screen door hoping he would eventually enter inside when he was ready.

That was not the case.

After an hour or so, we realized we were going to have to do something if we planned on eating, or sleeping, or doing anything that day. Even though our yard is well fenced in, there’s always that looming foster parent fear of your protege sneaking out, and we were glued to the windows watching his every sniff and tail wag.

For rescue dogs, being afraid to come inside a home is a common problem. After weeks, months, or even years of living outside or fending for yourself, four enclosed walls with tons of big, looming things inside can seem a little intimidating. As they peek into your home, they may not see an escape route, in case things get a little hairy, so they prefer the comfort of the open air and plenty of room to run.

If your foster dog or new adoption experiences this, just remember to be patient, calm, and follow these steps.

Step 1: Prop or lock your door open so your pup can learn that if he comes inside, he won’t be stuck there forever. Go on about your day for at least 30 minutes allowing the pup to check out the door, sniff inside, and test the waters. Don’t make kissy noises, talk to him, or encourage him. In this case, acting like nothing new is going on will give him the space he needs to check out the situation.

Step 2: After he’s established that the door is going to remain open for exit and entry, place a pile of high reward treats right inside the entrance of the house then walk away again. A high reward treat is anything that the dog will really want to work for: bits of meat, hot dogs, his favorite snack, etc. We repeated this step a few times to help Dude gain the confidence to reach inside and eat the treats.

If you have other dogs in the house that are treat greedy like ours, consider placing your other dog in another room so he doesn’t snatch up all the yummies before the new dog does.

Step 3: Take some more treats (if you haven’t figured it out, you’re going to need lots of treats), and this time create a trail from the front door to a few feet inside the house. Walk away again and go about as normal. As your dog builds up more courage to go farther into the house, replenish and lengthen the line of treats.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I emphasized patience. Well, in writing this seems simple, but you’re working at your dog’s pace, not yours. This process took about three hours for us. Be patient..they will get it, and it will be a wonderful moment for both of you.

Step 4: Once your dog is getting all four paws inside the house and just past the door, position a friend or yourself near the door. Dude became more hesitant when he realized we were close to the door so we had to encourage him to come in again with us sitting very still for about 30 minutes in one spot.

Step 5: Once the dog has safely entered inside and he’s focused on the treats, slowly close the door behind him. Note: slowly…and quietly. You don’t want to frighten them with a slamming door, unless, of course you’re ready to start back at square one.

Step 6: Now that he is safely inside, shower him with love, treats, and praise. Show him all the wonderful things about the house and how great it is being inside! Let him inspect all the rooms, follow you around, and play with you. DO NOT place him in a kennel during this time. If you do this, he will associate coming inside with kennel time, and that is not a positive association. Kenneling can be practiced after he has learned how to come inside.

We had Dude stay inside for about 2 hours and then let him out again. We had to re-repeat the steps above for the 2nd time around, but it took only 15 minutes to encourage him to come inside.  Later on in the night, we attached a short leash on him and let him out. When we were ready for him to come inside, we gently grabbed the leash and guided him in.

Why didn’t you just put him on a leash in the first place, says over eager student raising hand.

Because your dog should learn that your home is a safe place and he won’t be forced to come inside unwillingly and in an unpleasant way.

Putting a leash on him first may result in you just dragging him in, which is bad and damaging to the relationship. He/She should have time to build up their own confidence so you don’t have to get into the habit of always putting a leash on him when he goes out. He needs to know he can also do it alone.

We are now on Day Three of Dude living with us and he comes in and out of our house like it’s no big deal. His confidence levels are up and he has made himself right at home on our couch.

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Dude

Have you ever had a situation similar to Dude’s, if so, how did you handle it?

With smiles,

Rebekah

Adoptable Castaway-Goldie

Goldie

For our first “Adoptable Castaway Profile”, I chose Goldie, a yellow Lab Mix that stole my heart at the adoption event this past weekend. 

Goldie was found when she was 10 months old behind an abandoned building. Although, she was just a puppy herself, she had recently given birth to her own litter. Unfortunately, the (undoubtedly) cute pups were never found, but Dogs 2nd Chance was blessed to have a new furry friend to add to the brood.

s1782a6167726m17725968Goldie doesn’t know a stranger, whether human or dog. As I stood at the adoption table, I watched as her little tail wagged at each passerby, and for those who were lucky enough to stop, she showered them with kisses. Men, women, teens, and children approached her and not once did she shy away from the affection.

For a dog who was neglected for the first year of her life, she isn’t afraid to give humans their own second chance at loving her.

I had Midas with me that day, and while most dogs (especially with her petite size) are usually hesitant to approach him, she jumped up and wrapped her little paws around his neck and gave him tons of loving licks. My heart just melted….and Midas puffed up his chest to make sure she saw how buff he was looking that day.

He did look quite dashing.

Goldie loves long walks in the park, Sunday morning drives, and an impromptu game of fetch. She has a heart of gold and a dream to share her love with not just any family, but a very special one.

When I sat down with Goldie, one-on-one, at the local bakery, she took a small bite of her fresh-baked kibble and said, “Rebekah, my beginnings were a little rough, but I was raised to be a forgiving person, and I just want to show someone how dogs really should be loved, by loving a human back. I dream a dream of a home of any size, with any other pets. Any home will do. My only wish is that it’s a loving home”.

If her personality isn’t enough to sell you, don’t fret, my pet. She weighs in at the perfect weight of 42 lbs, not too big and not too small. Because she is quite the lady, she is both house trained and kennel trained. As with all our dogs, she is up-to-date on her shots and microchipped.

If you, or someone you know, wants to be loved by Goldie, visit here to fill out an application. Please, only loving families apply. 

But wait, there’s more! If you aren’t ready to commit to a second dog, but want a taste of Goldie’s love, apply here to foster her.

With smiles,

Rebekah

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Goldie

If Goldie sounds irresistible, but you want to check out our other irresistible pups, visit here. Dogs 2nd Chance likes to give everyone the opportunity to be a part of our cause. If you cannot foster or adopt, please consider donating your time or money to help care for these castaways. Every second and cent helps. 

5 Games to Play with Your (Big) Dog on a Rainy Day

Dog games.

When it’s raining cats and dogs outside these games will keep your big, furry friend exercised mentally and physically without all the muddy mess.

Normally, my mastiff, Midas, is perfectly content sleeping next to me on the couch all day, but it’s usually on the rainiest and muddiest of days that he decides he wants to play. Occasionally, I’ll oblige..hey, if he wants to get wet and muddy, who am I to stop him? But, most of the time, I’m not in the mood to clean up the disaster that follows him back in.

In order to curb the boredom and entertain him inside, I did some research online, but most of the suggested “rainy day” games are for nimble, agillic pups that can weave through homemade obstacle courses. If you own a large breed dog then you know they just aren’t cut out for those games.

However, it didn’t take too long to come up with a few of my own fun activities that successfully nip the whining and boredom in the bud. Some of these might take a little practice with your own pup, but before long, you’ll have some go-to tricks that will rival the Cat and The Hat’s own rainy day entertainment…without all the mess.

1. Hide ‘n Go Seek

This is our household favorite, and it’s easy to teach!

  • First, grab some of your dog’s favorite toys or treats. We used cut-up hot dogs to keep his attention, and to give him a reward he really wants.
  • Take your dog to one room of the house (we use the bedroom) and give the sit-stay or down-stay command. If you have a friend that can help you, have the friend either hold the dog’s collar or stand beside him to make sure he doesn’t move until you’re ready. If you’re alone, make sure your dog understands the stay command before trying out this game.
  • Find a hiding place! For the first time, hide just outside of your dog’s sight so they don’t give up too easily before they catch on to the game. You can increase the level of difficulty of your hiding places after a few successful rounds.
  • If you have a friend, instruct them to say “Go find!”. We say, “Go Find, Mommy!”, but you can use any command to indicate that the dog may now go look for you. If you’re alone, call out your dog’s name or say “Find!”.
  • When the dog finds you, shower them with praise, treats, and excitement! Make it fun so they learn that “finding you” is rewarding.

Benefits: Exercises the dog mentally and physically while also training them to use their nose to search you out. Reinforces the sit and stay command, and encourages dogs to come when called.

2. Treat in a Box

This one is wonderful if you’re in a particularly lazy (or busy!) mood, and your dog is anything but. It’s the same concept as any of the treat balls you can find at your local pet store, but for foster parents and multi-dog parents sometimes you aren’t keen to invest in toys that will eventually end up destroyed so a box is a great substitute.

  • Grab a shoe box or any box you have no affinity for (we use shipping boxes from USPS).
  • Fill the box with all of your dog’s favorite treats! I use a mixture of hot dog bites, training treats, pieces of lunch meat, and dog food.
  • If you’re using a shoe box, cut an opening in the lid so that there is a way for the treats to fall out. The smaller the opening, the higher the level of difficulty (just don’t cut too small or your dog will give up–too big and it won’t be enough mental stimulation). If you’re using a shipping box, cut the two longer flaps so that when you close it up, there is an opening where the treats can fall out. See picture below:

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  • Place the box on the floor and let your dog have at it!

Benefits: Mental exercise that teaches your dog problem solving skills. As a bonus, your dog learns how to open up his own Christmas presents!

3. The Stair Master

Confession: We don’t use this game in our home because Midas is prone to hip dysplasia so please consider your dog’s breed before playing this game; however, it’s excellent indoor exercise for more limber breeds. I’ve also provided an alternative below.

  • Easy peasy. Stand at the top of a flight of stairs with your dog. Toss the ball down the stairs and have your dog retrieve the ball and bring it back up. If you’re dog is like ours and doesn’t understand the concept of fetch, you can have another person stand at the bottom of the stairs to get the ball back and toss it back up.

Alternative: Ball in the Hall 

Instead of tossing the ball down the stairs, we toss the ball down the hall….if that wasn’t already obvious in the title…

Benefits: Great physical exercise that can easily wear your dog out!

4. Criminal Bones

This game is similar to hide n’ go seek except instead of hiding yourself, you’re hiding a bone! Hey, maybe one day your dog will grow up to be a police K9…

  • First, grab one of your dog’s most coveted bones. We use either a rawhide roll or bully stick.
  • Let your dog smell the bone and get him very excited about it!
  • Give the sit-stay or down-stay command.
  • Hide the bone! For the first time, hide the bone in plain sight until he learns that in order to get the bone, he has to find it. You can increase the level of difficulty after a few tries.
  • Give a release command. We simply say “Go find the bone!”. Use a very excited voice so your dog understands it’s a fun game.
  • When your dog finds the bone, give him tons of praise and then let him enjoy his find! If you want the game to continue, let him gnaw on the bone for a bit as a reward, then take the bone back and restart the game.

Advanced Level: Once your dog masters this game, try hiding several pieces of his favorite treats around the house. We hide about 10 cut up hot dogs all around the house, and it keeps him mentally preoccupied for about 10-15 minutes.

Benefits: Mental and physical exercise that trains your dog to use his sense of smell to search, and also reinforces the sit-stay commands.

5. To the Window! To the Wall! Till the drool drops down his jowls…

This game combines a little of everything: training, exercise, and your own personal work out! There are two versions of this game, one for those pet parents who allow their dogs on the furniture (guilty!), and one for those who don’t.

  • First, grab a handful of treats. Place a treat on the couch and have your dog jump up on it. We have a blanket on our couch that is Midas’s “place” so we use this spot to reinforce the command.
  • Then run to your bedroom and place a treat on your bed so your dog quickly follows you and jumps up to find the treat. I give the command Cuddle time! so he learns that Cuddle Time means to come to bed with us.
  • After your dog gets the treat, race to his doggie bed and drop another treat there. When we get here, I say Bed. Now he has learned 3 established places to go: Place (on the couch), Cuddle Time (our bed), and Bed (his dog bed).
  • As your dog figures out that each new location will have a treat, increase your speed and alternate the order of the places you go so your dog is racing back and forth! Eventually, you can stand in one spot and command him to each area.

If your dog is not allowed on furniture, simply find 3-4 places in your house to have him race to!

Benefits: Mental and physical exercise while also teaching your dog to go to a place. This will come in handy when you need your dog to calm down or lay down. Just make sure you spend some time reinforcing the stay command once he is in his place so he learns the difference between “time-out” and play time.

If your pup is still bored after exhausting all of these games, consider getting him a furry friend by visiting our adoptable dogs list here!

With smiles,

Rebekah

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Before and After

I Have Been Changed For Good

dog nose

I recently saw the musical, Wicked, and it was, to say in a word, amazing.

One song that really struck a chord with me was For Good sung by Glinda and Elphaba. The lyrics say:

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me
Like a hand print on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you’ll have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

A little over a week ago, I gave up my first foster pup. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Linda, the founder of Dogs 2nd Chance, found the 6 month old pointer/lab mix hiding from a storm underneath a porch. She named him Monkee, because he flew from couch to chair like a monkey swinging in the trees. At first I didn’t believe it, but within a day of bringing him home I was chasing him around singing the Flying Monkeys theme song from Wizard of Oz.

Monkee created more destruction in my home than Dorothy’s tornado. I was up every four hours during the night, up at the crack of dawn, and didn’t stop until he did, which was never, of course. For two weeks, my world revolved around only him.

It wasn’t long before the wirey little guy found his new home in Omaha, Neb. (and yes, we did drive through Kansas to get him there). A nice gentleman, who had recently lost both his wife and dog from cancer, spotted him on Pet Finder and knew they needed each other.

If you haven’t fostered before, I can sum up the experience in only one sentence:

Giving your foster dog to his new forever home is like giving a stranger a piece of yourself.

You feel lost when they’re gone, like you don’t know where home is anymore.

(Okay, okay, that was two)

My friends and family asked me, If it’s so hard, then why do it?

Simple.

Because, I have been changed for good.

When I was driving away from his new home, I cried, not because I missed him, but because I realized how much I had been changed.

So much of myself now, is what I learned from him.

He gave me courage, a heart, a brain, and a home.

Monkee loved to please, and he tried so hard to do everything right, but as an energetic pup, he often failed; however, he never gave up trying. He showed me that success isn’t about being perfect, it’s about having the courage to try again and again until you get it right.

At every opportunity, I poured my self, my energy, and my love into Monkee, and then I gave him to someone else. Monkee taught me to love unconditionally and then to share that love, a piece of my heart, with others.

As a stray, Monkee didn’t know much about domestic pet life, but he did know love and love is what he did. Monkee showed me that we may not know it all, but we should share what we do know. He inspired me to share my writing and knowledge of pet care.

Finally, Monkee taught me how to open up my home to others less fortunate even if it means sacrificing its condition or our sanity. He taught me that a home isn’t a home because of what’s in it, but rather who’s in it.

I can’t promise that fostering a rescue will also change you for the better, but I can tell you, it will change you for good.

With smiles,

Rebekah

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Monkee

Interested in Fostering? Click here to learn more!

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