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Discussion Starter #1
Benefits: confidence building, often uses multiple senses, uses up some energy, helps to create and reinforce a 'thinking', and 'problem solving' dog, a dog who is willing and eager to 'try' and try again. Most of all, plain old fun for your dog!!
Great for those days when the weather is just 'ugly' outside or if your pup is in need of limited physical exercise.

Figuring out the bottle spinner. How to get the treats from inside?

First 'taste' it.

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then contemplate how it works

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give it a nudge

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then try the paw, and yes!! it works!!

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Share your 'brain games'!!
 

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Kate
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I lay a tracking path for the guys when I sent them outside for potty. Usually it's me taking a shuffle walk around the house and placing treats at different places.

If we are outside, I would do the same thing though probably with sticks. I would just keep them locked inside while I lay a long track through the woods.

My guys are trained to follow where I stepped and find anything I handled outside... or indoors, it's following my scent and checking anything I handled to find treats.

When I let them inside the house (or let them outside) - I just tell them to find it and they basically give themselves rugburn on their noses sniffing and running.

Tracking is a fun sport and it is one of the trained sports which golden retrievers should thrive at, given you train them to get their noses on the ground. <= A lot of retrievers prefer to air scent which isn't ideal for tracking. There are also dogs who try to hunt by sight and can't find things right underfoot so they really have to have to be train to use their noses... :)

Beyond refining an ability the dogs are born with and encouraging them to use their nose.... there are common sense benefits.

When out hiking and I lose sight of one or the other dog - my dogs are trained to find each other by scent. If they get too far ahead and need to find me, they can find me by scent.

Might add, I also play a lot of hide and seek games outside with them. The one dog airscents the whole time, while the other follows my footsteps. The air scenting dog usually circles and meanders more than the dog whose nose is on the ground, but they both find me. It's hilarious to hear the noisy sniffing from both too. :D

Anyway, it all starts with tracking games you play inside the house.
 

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Love this thread and looking forward to hearing everyone's games. Thanks for posting!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #5
'What's in the box?' game, one that my guys thoroughly enjoy!

All you need is a cardboard box, (any size will do) stuff it with some newspaper or old cloths, throw in a handful of kibble or treats, mix it up, and then close the box.
Give it to your dog and sit back and watch them tear it apart, hunting for every last piece of kibble!


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1. Empty toilet paper roll bon bon.
Put treats in the toilet paper roll & squeeze ends of roll (like Christmas bon bon). Jon would sniff & figure it out to get the treats that trapped inside of roll.

2. Egg carton treasure
Place treats in empty egg carton, put balls on each hole. Either close the egg carton or leave open. Let Jon have fun with it, sniff, move balls with his paw or nose... yummy treats.

3. Feed a chicken.
Tossing half of Jon's dinner at backyard. "Find it" then one happy sniffer.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thank you for sharing your 'brain games', lots of fun for all.

One of the many 'brain games' I play with my dogs is a shaping game called: '101 Things to Do with a Box' https://clickertraining.com/node/167, helped them to learn to offer behaviors, that there was no getting it 'wrong', and reinforced their willingness to try and 'try again' and that learning new behaviors is a lot of fun. Once they understood the game, we went on to shape a number of tricks. - shake a paw, wave, high five, stretch (two paws up in the air), spin, weave, (the dogs have a blast with these tricks), go to a mat, to offer that 'sit and wait' at the door and so much more.
 

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Now, more than ever, since our outdoor activities may be limited, we may struggle to keep our pups (and ourselves) entertained and engaged , a good time to consider focusing on some fun stuff with our pups - of any age. Teaching new tricks, and games (even the 'oldies' love to learn), keeping them busy with frozen Kongs, puzzle toys to work on, can help to provide some relief for pent up energy.

If you haven't taught it, the 'touch' (the dog touches his nose to you hand) cue, can be a lot of fun for a dog, not only a useful behavior/skill for them to learn, but a fun one for them to use. Can be used to help them to learn leash skills, to sit on a scale at the vet office, to come back to you, to help a distracted pup to return their focus back to you, as well as helping them learn new tricks, to touch an object, to roll a ball with their nose, to move away from you (send them to 'touch' a distant object), to spin and twist, to give a 'high five', to go say 'Hi' to a friendly stranger, to weave, practice recall, the possibilities are endless!

We can also practice focusing on simply 'capturing' (and rewarding/reinforcing) offered/voluntary behaviors that we want them to repeat - can be a life skill, sit/down, touch, eye contact, whatever is a rewardable behavior to you, or something cute and just for fun. Even for a dog of any age, to whom this new, it is fascinating how quickly they will learn to think and catch on to the game and start offering a variety of behaviors - you can simply wait and mark and reward the one you are looking for. Many dogs will re-offer a behavior that was most recently rewarded, but we can encourage them to 'try again' and wait for them to offer something new. Start off easy, and make it a little more difficult as your pup is learning to 'think for themselves' and choosing behaviors to offer, without prompting or cuing, to offer those good behaviors we are seeking from them .

While we may tend to focus on 'obedience' skills, who doesn't want a well mannered dog, mixing in some just for fun games and tricks, can help make learning easier for a less confident pup, and teach even a hesitant dog that it is okay to think for themselves, and learn to 'offer' those good behaviors we are seeking from them.
 
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