Take your pup on a car ride to see the neighborhood or somewhere new. Roll your windows down a crack to let in all the new smells for them to investigate!
If you haven’t taken your pup out on a car ride yet, this is the perfect time to hit two challenges at once! This challenge could be letting them pick out a new toy from a store, from a box of toys you have on rotation, or just out of your hands when you offer them two or three different options. See what they want to do today! If it is a toy that they can play interactively with, take a few minutes to give them your fullest attention to play together, or just let them “show” it to you and cheer them on.
Hide your pup’s favorite treats or toys around your home and let them sniff them out! If you have multiple dogs, it might be good to give each dog their own turn so you don’t get two dogs worried about who get what first. Have fun with it! Depending on your dog’s “find it” skills, you might need to let them see you hide things or you might be able to hide them without them seeing. Give them both a try and report back!
Keep your play gestures particularly small if your dog is shy, nervous, or unsure. It is better to start small and grow into bigger play once you have buy in. You don’t have to play for long – just a few minutes. Stop playing before they are bored. It keeps the game fun and makes them want more!
Challenge #7 – New chewie toy (Variety Category)
Being able to chew on things is not only a great outlet for your pup’s natural instincts, it is also a great way to burn up some mental energy. Because dogs need mental exercise just as much as they need physical exercise! There are so many different options to “chews” from (ha!), from harder to softer, to food-filled. Find out what kind of chewie toy your dog likes the most. Check out this great post about chewing and also our Boredom Buster’s resource for more ideas to give your pup’s brain a workout.
Challenge #8 – SMART strategy, Part 1 (Home + Relationship Categories)
One day this week (or ideally multiple days!) your challenge is to give your dog a treat when they are doing things you like. This is a strategy called SMART and it stands for See, Mark And Reward Training. The goal is to reward our dogs often for doing what we want them to do. That’s right – our goal is to “catch them in the act” of being good!
When it comes to so many things in life, we do more of what we get rewarded for. Therefore, the more we reward our pups for doing things we want them to do, the more likely they are to do it again. And again. And again! The more often you reward them while they are being good, the “better” they will want to be!
Not only can implementing the SMART strategy improve your pup’s behavior, it can also help build up your relationship! You can try this at home, on your walks, and on any outings. Think of rewarding them for things like resting somewhere you like, staying out of the kitchen, watching and not barking out the window, not chasing the cat, etc. The options are endless!
Set yourself a challenge to give your pup 20 SMART rewards in a day, then 35, then 50! Remember, the more we reward for things we like, the more likely we are to get them!
Challenge #9 – SMART strategy, Part 2 (Home + Relationship Categories)
I want you to only tell your dog what you want them to do, and not what you don’t want them to do. This means changing out any form of No, including any nuh-uh type sounds. Instead, I want you to replace them with an interrupter sound – like a kissy noise – and once you have their attention, ask them to do something else.
The same thing can happen to us and our dogs. It is so unconscious on our part, but we can soon be that negative buzzer sound to them. Uff! Definitely not what we want!
So, if they are up on the counters or getting into something they shouldn’t, get their attention and then ask them to come to your side, to go to a mat, or to get a toy. All of those things are incompatible behaviors to getting on the counter and will help build your relationship up!
If you are on a walk and they are getting into something you don’t want, sniffing something, or pulling in a different direction, first take stock as to why. Are they overwhelmed by the situation and trying to relieve some stress? Are they interested in all the good smells? Do they have something they want to see or get away from? Address those things first, adjust your expectations, or take a moment to go their direction. After that, do your SMART rewards for good walking manners and interrupt with a silent pause in the walk when they aren’t doing what you need (stopping when they pull, for example) and continue walking when they stop pulling. If they need to be redirected, give a kissy noise and use a phrase like “this way!” or call their name to indicate a change of direction.
Challenge #10 – Podcast: Forget Everything you Know About Your Dog (Relationship Category)
Listen to this podcast and phenomenal interview with Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist (and dog devotee). She is the author of Inside of a Dog and many other books diving into the science of dogs.
Challenge #11 – Hit The Drive Thru (Variety Category)
We all love getting a snack on occasion! Hit the drive thru with your pup and get them something special, like a puppicino, small ice cream, or a few of your fries!
Dog Is Love is one of my favorite books. Here is a great short article by the book’s author, Clive Wynne.