In celebration of National Dog Week KING 5 spoke with a local trainer to get her thoughts on exercising your animal as the weather gets colder in the fall and winter months.
Wynona Karbo is the owner at Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle. She said dog owners need to come up with creative ways to keep your animal active both physically and mentally.
“Any dog of any age, mental exercise really keeps them calm and helps them burn off energy,” Karbo said. “So we’ll get some dogs who are really fit because they are getting a lot of exercise, but if they are not getting training and exercise of the brain they can actually still be seeking stimulation and getting into things that we don’t want them to get in.”
Karbo showed us how to use a treat puzzle. It’s a small contraption filled with a little food and if successful, the dog will work to get the treat out of a small hole on the device.
“Plenty of exercise, plenty of mental stimulation,” Karbo said. “It’s nice because they’ll knock treats out of the treat puzzle and then they have to go search for them. So rather than putting it in a bowl where they kind of gobble it up very fast you can really turn it into a game.”
All of this can be done in your living room.
“You were going to feed him anyway so you might as well have them have fun,” Karbo said.
Another mental exercise is teaching your dog to read. We wrote down the word ‘Sit’ on a piece of paper hoping the dog would see the command. He picked it up pretty fast, but just to be sure he didn’t just sit when he saw paper, the trainer later changed the word.
“So right now he thinks probably, piece of paper with red squiggles equals sit,” Karbo said. “What we’re trying to teach him that you have to pay attention to what’s written on it because that’s actually the cue.”
“You’re freshening up the cues that have really become a little stale,” Karbo added. “Maybe you have spin, and shake, and roll over, but your dog is like ‘ I’ve done all those before, whatever.’ Teaching them a new fun game can be a great way to engage with a dog and get them tired from mental stimulation.”
The trainers said that owners should try to exercise their animal for 30 minutes a day. If you do that they believe you will notice a difference in a short amount of time.
Copyright 2016 KING