Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Its unprecedented, what's going on in the world today is scary and tragic. So many are finding themselves working from home, or just forced to be at home out of work for the time being. I know how stressful a time this is. I know money is tight, kids are home from school, dogs are now around their humans all day as many of the activities they love are also closed. I'm worried about a lot of things, chief among them: what happens to our dogs now? What happens when patience runs shorter than normal, when misinformation abounds, when financial decisions need to be made? It is my sincere hope that these things do not cause an uptick in dogs being sent to shelters or otherwise abandoned. So I am putting together this list of things to do with your dogs in the hopes that it will help you to try and enjoy this time with them, for their lives are so short, and to maybe even find something useful you might not have thought about doing before. Our mission is to Keep dogs out of shelters and in their homes through training and education, and we are redoubling that effort now in the face of this pandemic.
Shameless plug time, because you're here anyway. Some of the things we are doing at BP4W to help you: We opened a free facebook group to post videos and tips for training your dog to earn their Canine Good Citizenship title. We are getting our YouTube up and running and are hoping to post a video at least 5 times week about topics our clients and fans have asked to see. We are now set up to do virtual lessons as well. These are 90 minute lessons done via Zoom Meetings and are a lot of fun! It is my hope moving forward to blend in person and online classes to help all different types of learners. We are also offering 19% off board and trains through May 1st, 2020. Now is a perfect time to get a tune up for your dog and give you a breather if you need it. (Contact us if you are a health care worker or first responder for additional discounted services) It is my hope that you will utilize this free and low cost content now, so we can have even more fun together once this is over! We had so many spring plans that are hopefully turning into summer plans if we can nip this in the bud. Ok, that's what I'm doing for you, here's things you can do!
For starters let me say, find time every day for your dog(s) to be without you. Whether it is them in another room with a bone while you work, you going for a short walk without them; best if they cant hear or see you, but even just not seeing you will help. If they whine or carry on, just ignore them and let them self sooth (make sure they are somewhere dog proof or crated). The reason for this is life WILL go back to normal, and you will have to be gone again hopefully sooner than later. So by giving them some time away from you now, you are setting them up for success later when that time comes. The last thing we need after all this is dogs who now have separation anxiety. I'll start with easy enrichment ideas. Kongs, y'all know I LOVE me some Kongs! I almost never give an unfrozen Kong to a dog because they last so much longer. I made this note on my facebook this morning, but please size your Kongs appropriately. A tiny Kong for a large dog can cause them to choke or swallow it, a huge Kong for a tiny dog can cause them to get stuck or injured. This goes for bones too, giant dogs shouldn't have tiny bones, and tiny dogs shouldn't have giant bones. We have linked tons of Kong stuffing ideas on our facebook and Pintrest, there are endless pawsibilities. Licky matts are also a fun way to keep your dogs quiet during work. You can freeze them or not, however this toy should be given while in your line of sight. It is just rubber and they can easily destroy them if they want to.
You can include pet treats in your list of recipes to try. There are tons and tons of awesome ideas out there, and that's one less thing to go to the store for! (I will be posting some videos of my favorites in the near future!) Treat dispensing toys/puzzles, these things save my sanity on the regular! I love the Starmark Bobs-A-Lot and Kong Wobbler, but there are tons to try. Put your dogs favorite treats or kibble in them and watch them figure it out. Its amazing to watch their brains and noses work. You can make puzzles and sniffle boxes your self as well, we have lots of links on our social medias and there are lots out there. Flirt poles are great indoor or yard toys (we sell them and have tons of videos about them if you need one!) They are one of our favorite toys because it enhances the bond with the owner (they can't play with out you), it teaches impulse control (make them wait and release them to get it, and drop it), its physically tiring (fishing for dogs!) and it gives them an outlet for their natural drives Great great tool. Another super fun game, have a kiddy pool laying around? Get some ball pit balls and have a blast! You can hide treats to encourage them to get in it and root around. (Again, be watching them. The point is not to chew the balls but to dig around in them and have fun)
Now you know I'm going to say it, basic training. But, here's the twist, focus on living with your dog. Here's what I pride myself on as a trainer, real life training! I am the first to say none of my dogs are competition obedience trained. Why? Its of no interest to me in my daily life with my dogs. What does interest me? Boundary training for example, keeping my dogs out of the kitchen or teaching them they don't rush out doors until released. Place training, go sit on your cot while I clean or cook or eat so you're not under foot. So, my challenge to you is; what would make your life with your dog easier? What do you wish they would do in an everyday situation? (sit when someone approaches asking to pet them for example) What do you wish they would not do, and how can you shape it into something you would like? (How do you get your dog to know a bark or two is ok, but once you say stop they stop?) Really think about it, not just "how do I stop that" but "what would I rather they do?" You are looking for incompatible behaviors here. As an example, dog jumps on guests. Dog can not jump on guests if they have a solid place command So you took the unwanted jumping behavior and trained an incompatible behavior, going to place, and have killed two birds with one stone. No jumping, but also doing something you'd like and can reward. In training, that is our goal. Looking for behavior we can reward, replacing behaviors we don't like with behaviors we can reward to make a reinforcement history with the wanted behavior that is stronger than the unwanted.
Now is the time to dig in folks. We are here to help you in any possible way we can. Reach out about what you need help with and want videos of. Ask your questions. Myself and other trainers are literally here at your finger tips waiting to guide you through this. Give yourself and your dogs a fighting chance.
For the Dogs,