What do you do to entertain your dog when it's too hot to go for a walk?
One of Baldrick and Marvin's favourite things to do on a 'no walk' day is have a treasure hunt. I scatter small treats around the back yard, on the grass, behind shrubs, under outdoor furniture etc. As soon as they hear the words "go find it" the hunt is on, and they quite happily hunt for half an hour or more. Once they are convinced that there really isn't any more to find, they settle down totally exhausted.
Why does a treasure hunt tire your dog?
Why are they exhausted? It's not like they've just had a 5km walk. Well, this is the great thing about giving your dogs puzzles. You are making their brain work - and that's tiring. Think about yourself. If you spend the day hiking, you're physically tired, but if you spend the day sitting at a desk wrestling with some problems that need all your concentration, I bet you're exhausted - but you haven't done any physical exercise. It's the same for our dogs.
The other reason is that they see the world through their noses - did you know their sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than ours? The amount of information a dog receives through sniffing is so vast, it is mentally tiring for them. This is one of the reasons why working dogs such as the sniffer dogs at airports work in short blocks of time.
Will my dog enjoy working for food?
YES - no question, scent based enrichment really makes dogs happy.
What food should I use for the treasure hunt?
So what should you scatter for them? Well, if you feed your dog kibble, just use their morning serve and let them forage for their breakfast. Otherwise any of our training treats work really well for this, as they are tiny, thereby reducing the risk of overfeeding.
Can we use a treasure hunt for a dog recovering from surgery?
Absolutely. If your dog is in rehab following an inkjury, or has had surgery recently and is limited in their mobility, this is a great way to give them some gentle exercise and mental stimulation.
So next time it's too hot to take your dog for a walk, give the treasure hunt a try, and leave a comment to let me know how it went.