Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's a Dog's Life

These are our girls – Bailey and Sadie. They were each adopted from a shelter as puppies, and have lived the life of leisure ever since. The only thing that breaks my heart is when they lay at our feet with their heads on their paws, staring at us with a combination of love, wonder and complete boredom. If we get busy in “people activities,” they want to know why they’re not involved and how quickly we’ll be doing something they can help with.

I think our pets fall into the “desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4) category. They love our companionship, and dogs especially can be taught the most wonderful games to entertain us both (although I have taught our cat to sit for a treat). What follows are just a few ideas for some exercises, tricks and games to spend some quality time with your favorite puppy.

  • Hide and Seek: While your dog is somewhere she can't watch you, hide several treats around the room. Put some in plain sight and others behind, under, on top of and between things. Then let your puppy back in the room and watch her tear around trying to find all the treats. Cheer her on and help if you need to. When we play, I keep track of which of our dogs finds the most and she gets an extra scratch behind the ears.
  • Teach your dog to lift each foot – “front right,” “back left,” whatever words you want to use. Our girls know “front feet” and “back feet.” This is so useful when you’re clipping nails or you need to wipe muddy paws.
  • If you’re tired up picking up balls, chew toys and stuffed squirrels, teach your dog how to do it. They probably already know the names of all their toys, so just teach them “get” and “basket” or “box” – wherever you want their toys stored. Make sure they get lots of loving and treats for all their hard work.
  • Introduce the words “back up” to your dog’s vocabulary. There’s nothing worse than a 55-pound black lab in your way while you’re moving around the house, so we’ve taught the girls to “back up.” They’ll take a few steps backward and then sit until they see the path is clear. Just use an arm motion to begin with that starts above their head and moves back to where you want them to be.
  • Dogs can learn the names of many different words, so work on fetching useful items. Try “leash” to be prepared for walks, “keys” for your absent-minded days, and “pen” for when you’re a little clumsy. They can also be taught to fetch certain items on a sound cue, like a box of tissues when you sneeze or the phone when it rings. Just be prepared for the slobber that comes along with it.
  • Do you have a dog with spots? Sadie has one white spot on her belly, so I’ll ask her to roll over and show me her belly. Then I pretend to take her spot off, close my hand in a fist and say “Look, I’ve got your spot.” She gets all excited and sniffs at my hand trying to find her spot. Then I’ll have her flip over on her back again, rub my hand over her spot and say “There’s your spot back.” Sadie thinks this is the most fun ever and smothers me with kisses.
In the end, I don’t believe it really matters what games or tricks you choose, as long as you’re spending time with your four-legged friends. They deserve more than lounging around the house all day, so find something that challenges them mentally and physically. And have fun!

2 comments:

  1. Your cat will sit for a treat? That's amazing!

    Bailey and Sadie are completely beautiful. But then, you already knew that!

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  2. The kicker is that they know it, too!!! And yes, Cayenne will sit, mainly because she's seen the girls do it. Sit-treat. Sit-treat. Funny little brains they have!

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