121 Animal Therapy

The Ridings,
Level Mare Lane
Eastergate,
Chichester,
West Sussex,
PO20 3SA
Tel: 01243 543121

Jane’s Boredom Busters (BB) - episode 3

Another week has gone by already.I am in the very lucky position to have got miles behind with things at home, so have been using the opportunity to try to catch up, and must say I have no idea where the time goes.Gardening & painting timber externally has taken up most of my time.Despite having been "on call" for the NHS GoodSam volunteering for well over 300 hours (as have lots of you), not a single job!If I had known that at the outset I would have volunteered at more other places too, because I know there are lots of people needing help, but the systems to make it work don't seem to be in place.Anyway – enough of my ranting about things that don't really matter.As I said last week I (we) continue to applaud all those of you who are putting their lives on the line for the rest of us, from those in the NHS and throughout all the other jobs / professions who are keeping the country running, thank you.Already more people have died than the entire population of Chichester, so we mustn't start to become complacent. The rest of us, who also have an important role to play by keeping up the social distancing, thank all of you, but also give ourselves a pat on the back for keeping it up – that is what will make the difference when it comes to beating Covid-19.

I thought you might be interested to see me dressed ready to go to the supermarket. 

I thought you might be interested to see me dressed ready to go to the supermarket

As I've said before, I hope you will find it useful.If you have anything that you would like me to cover, please feel free to contact me and I'll try to do so in the next couple of blogs.You can also leave comments / photos or videos on the "board" on my website or on facebook..If you find this useful and know anyone else who might too, please feel free to forward it to them.Also if you "like it" in Facebook, that would be great.

As I said last time, they are not suitable for every dog, as it depends where they are currently in their rehabilitation.If you are in doubt at all, please contact me before doing something that is too much for your dog as it is at the moment. 

Jane's Boredom Busters (BB) - episode 3

Following on from last week, you could go on with the theme of the obstacle course.This is not trying to make an agility course, more just trying to give your dog lots to think about and work at, in a relatively small space.You can use whatever you have at home.

If it is in the garden, you have: 

  • Poles or a ladder or bits of wood / logs (make sure there isn't anything that can splinter), plastic downpipe / guttering, all of which can be used for stepping over (or possibly jumping over with fit dogs).
  • Shrubs, trees, bushes, flower pots, canes (for tomato plants), can all be used for going round.
  • Different surfaces for walking on for sensory input – grass (short & long), carpet, shingle, decking, air bed, cushion, tyres (car / bike), pavingfor walking over.
  • Children's tunnel or garden chairs or tables can all be used for crawling through or under
  • Steps / paving slabs for going up or down
  • Scaffold board (placed on the ground) for the dog to walk along
  • Interspersed with these you can add some of the things you have already used – plastic bottles / egg boxes / cardboard boxes
  • You could hide treats in the fence or under a log (or in a hole in the log)
  • You are really only limited by your imagination

Don't make it the same each time you set it up – they and we need variety.It will be positive for you to think of as many new / different ideas as possible.

Oh yes, the rain has started again this week, yes I know you will all have spotted that one!

You can still have an indoor obstacle course.For this, the ideas are the same, and some of the "props" will be too, but you have less space to play with so may need to be a little more inventive!For going under things you have chairs and tables again.If you don't want to bring the things in you would use for stepping over when you're outside, if you have children, they can sit on the floor with their legs apart (depending on the size of the dog), and the dog can step over their legs (this is sometimes really positive for the children too).If need be you can also use adults!Again mix and match.Once you get started it is amazing what you can come up with.

Try seeing what smells your dogs like.You could try say mint / rosemary / basil / lavender / your scent on a sock / something that has been with another animal that it can smell.You could make up a scent garden / box in the house.Dogs have a much better sense of smell than we do (although when it comes to fox poo I still have difficulty in believing that).They love to spend ages smelling things when we take them out – what looks to us like just another blade of grass, takes them as long to "read" as you will take reading this blog.Next time I hope to come up with ideas as to how you could progress this further.

Dogs also like to be visually stimulated.Some of you will have dogs who like to watch TV or to watch out of the window to see what's going on outside.If they're not they may like a "flirt pole / stick".These can be bought from a pet shop or on line, or you can make your own.Those of you who have cats are more likely to be familiar with them.I have made one from a horse lunging stick with a toy o the end, from an old fishing rod with a soft toy (with its stuffing having been removed), a long bamboo cane with a toy and baler twine.You can also use plastic pipe (like for conduit), feed string / rope through it, attach the lure (toy) to one end and secure the other end with a knot or tape of some form – it must be suitable for the breed of dog that you own or are working with.Before playing this game, be sure that you have taught your dog some form of release command (drop / leave). If you haven't done this before, practice without your dog first 'til you get the hang of it! Next get your dog to sit / lie until you say they can go.Whilst doing so, use the flirt pole to make the toy move / jump / run round.You give them their follow command (catch / chase / get / take it), after a few circuits / "misses", let them catch it and play with it for a little, before getting them to drop it.They then have to lie down until they're calm again and repeat the process. Don't always go the same way. It is really good for tiring them out, helping them with self control.As with everything else it is not suitable for all dogs.Certainly avoid this game if your dog is currently going through rehabilitation as we wouldn't want them to do the tight turns that are generally involved in this game.It is obviously also a great exercise for those of you with cats, but again remember the cautions if they are still going through rehab.

Hopefully you have started to teach them something new over the last few weeks.I think a some that are worth practicing or teaching are:

  • Stand – this should be a nice square stand – 1 leg in each corner, with the dog's weight distributed evenly.
  • In a standing position (square) without moving ay of their legs at all, bet them to follow your hand from left to right towards their hind quarters (you may need a low value treat for this).Initially if they are facing forwards, their nose is pointing to 12.00.You may only be able to go from 12.00 to 2.00 and from 12.00 to 10.00, hold for 5 seconds (less if they start to move any of their feet) and repeat.A young fit dog will be able to stretch much further than an older one.Think of it as doing some doggy pilates / yoga!Stretching is good, but it needs to be built up gradually.
  • Sit – again a nice square sit is what we are trying to achieve – no "chicken legs".If the dog is asked to stand from this sitting position it should be fairly simple for it to push up from it's hind limbs (no pulling up from front legs)!
  • Sit to stand using both the above.This is really helpful for maintaining the muscles on their hind legs.
  • Stand on 3 legs.When you teach this you will probably need to have a hand underneath them in case you need to use it as support for them initially.Initially only try to get them to hold it for about 5 seconds.This can be increased as they improve at it.
  • Shake hands / wave – can be done sitting or standing
  • Turning left / right.I have taught this either when dog walking or in the garden, by realising just in advance where the dog is going to turn that direction anyway and by saying it as they turn.Most people I have spoken to who do more challenging training, prefer using a "clicker" to teach these.Timing is critical, but the dogs seem to respond really well.If you haven't tried before, look on line – books, videos, YouTube etc.You may be surprised what you can teach a dog of any age to do, especially now while you have some spare time on your hands.
  • Down (meaning lie down rather than off to prevent jumping up)
  • Drop / give (an item)
  • Fetch / take (an item)
  • 123 Go!Especially good for letting of a bit of steam.You and they (or the children) are at the imaginary starting line & you slowly say 1, 2, 3 and as soon as you say go you all run like the start of a race (you don't have to go far)
  • Any others you fancy or would find useful!

The last one for today is a favourite for many:

Hide and seek.The idea is that the dog stays while someone hides, and they have to then go and find them.Again we always want the dog to enjoy the games and to be successful, so make it easy to start and harder as they progress.We do have a client – I will not give her name – where the dog hides something and the owner has t find it!If you prefer to play it that way then feel free to do so.

On that note I'll call it a day.

I'll come up with some more for you next week.Please share any different ideas you may have on the 121 bulletin board, or on facebook and you can also upload a picture or video of your dog if they like – doing any of the above or just doing their own thing.

I'm still aiming for happier pets and happier humans, using or making my "Boredom Busters" ideas!I look forward to hearing how you all get on.

Please also remember to pass this on to anyone who may find it useful and also to like it on Facebook.

Thanks.

Jane

Jane’s Boredom Busters (BB) - episode 4
Jane’s Boredom Busters episode 2

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