Confidence Games to try at Home with your Dog
Game 1: Can you eat from a noisy box?!
We love games like this! This is a great way for your dog to earn breakfast or dinner. This game builds the concept of being OK with noises. All you need is a box and some recycling. Scatter your dog’s food in and off they go!
- It’s important to consider what level of noise your dog can cope with when you first start playing this game.
- You may only want to put one item in, or even no items (the box in itself makes noise as the dog reaches in) to begin with and build from there.
- Always think about the dog in front of you and go at their pace.
Game 2: Can you climb inside something?!
Using a bin, box or barrel on it’s side is great for this! This is such a great one for building confidence as there are so many stages to this one!
- First of all we are looking for any interaction with the bin/barrel.
- Then perhaps a nose in, then a little more…and a little more and so on.
- Whilst your dog is getting used to climbing inside, it’s important to keep the bin/barrel still.
- Once they are leaping in like no tomorrow, move the bin/barrel slightly from side to side for an extension to this game.
Game 3: Can you stand on something that moves?!
If your dog has never placed their paws onto something, start with something that doesn’t move to begin with. Again, with this one, we are looking at building the steps towards the end goal which is paws on the object.
- So first mark and reward for any interaction, then a step towards the object, then one paw on, then 2, then 3, then 4 (depending on side of object!).
- Once you have practiced this game with one item, try with different items.
- For an extension exercise to movement, use something that also makes a noise, a metal baking tray for example.
Game 4: Can you walk over something that moves and feels funny on your feet?!
We call these balance paths and they are not only great for confidence but they are also great for fitness and body awareness. Use items that you have around the house to create a ‘path’ your dog can walk on. Things like; cushions, stalls, pillows, trays, bubble wrap, plastic, tarp, paper – you name it, so long as it’s safe for your dog to walk on and interact with, go for it and have fun creating your path!
- When you are set up, introduce your dog to the path by dropping food along it for them to pick up and eat as they negotiate the different surfaces.
- Remember to go at your dog’s pace, if they avoid an object take that as information and don’t force them to interact with it.
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