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Doggie Boredom Busters: Part Three

Doggie Boredom Busters: Part Three

Most of the time, physical exercise alone is not enough for our pups. Adding mental exercise, or ‘enrichment’, not only helps exercise them but also improves their lives as well! There are many different types of mental exercise that you can provide for your dog, from walks and hikes to puzzle toys and scent training.

When looking for something to exercise your dog mentally, it is important to consider your dog and what interests them. A dog that is highly food motivated will likely do best with a puzzle toy or game that involves finding food. Alternatively, a dog that likes to explore and play with toys might enjoy a “find it” game or a hike to explore new places and smells. Either way, you can often find many different types of puzzle toys in stores and online and you can even make some DIY toys yourself!


For toys that you can find in stores or online, there are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing:

  • Durability
  • Difficulty – match the difficulty to your pet’s interest and ability
  • Fun & Interactive
  • The Right Kind of Reward – most store-bought toys are focused on food
  • Reviews


When it comes to making your own puzzle toys or enrichment games at home, there are many different things you can do. Here are some easy to make toys and games:

  • Toilet Paper roll
    • Take an empty toilet paper roll and poke holes in the sides big enough for treats to fall out of. Fold in one end of the roll to close it up and drop in treats. Then fold in the other end and let your dog do the rest! Make sure to supervise with this toy, as most dogs will rip up the roll to get to the treats and we do not want them eating the pieces!
  • Water Bottle
    • Empty out and rinse a sturdy plastic bottle and drill holes in the sides large enough for treats to fall out. Sand down any sharp edges carefully so that your dog does not get injured while playing with it. Then fill the bottle with dog food or treats and screw on the cap. Supervise your pet with this toy as once it is damaged it will need to be recycled so that it does not injure paws, noses, or tongues.
  • Cups on a String
    • Drill small holes on two opposite sides of a plastic cup a couple centimeters below the top rim. Repeat the process with three or four other cups. Thread a string through the cups so that they hang in a row and attach either side of the string to a wall, gate, board, or other sturdy object. Drop treats in the cups and watch your pup nudge and kick the cups to flip them over!
  • Find It
    • The “find it” game is one of the easiest games you can play with your pup and does not require you to build or make anything! Start with your dog watching you drop a treat onto the ground, then point to the treat and say “find it”. Praise your dog for finding the treat and repeat the process until your dog is looking down on the ground around you when you say “find it”. Once they do this, you can begin hiding treats and telling them to go find them both indoors and outside!
  • Scent Tracking
    • Scent tracking is like the “find it” game but is more specialized. This is often used for hunting or search and rescue. Introduce your dog to a scent that they find interesting and then cover an item (often a toy) in that scent and put it somewhere that is easy to find. Once your dog is actively sniffing out the item, you can start hiding it more and more until they are working to search for it.
  • Trick Training
    • There are hundreds of tricks and games that you can teach your dog, and trick training is a great way to work their brain and their body. You can teach your dog to roll over, crawl, even jump through hoops and dance!
  • The Box
    • The box game is a great way to build confidence in your dog. The goal of the game is for your dog to be able to get a treat out of a box without your assistance. You will need a box that is large enough that if it sits open with a treat in the middle of the box you dog cannot simply reach down and grab it. They will need to tip the box and put their head in it to retrieve their prize. Start with one side of the box completely open with the flaps of the box folded inside so they do not block the dog’s view of the treat. This may take your dog seconds or even hours, but it is important for them to learn that the box will not harm them while they build up confidence in themselves to get the treat without you doing the work for them.


What are the goals of using Puzzles with your dog?
Puzzles work your dog mentally. This not only encourages your dog to find positive things to do with their extra energy, but it helps teach them to think more actively regarding their environment. Puzzles are enrichment, and both people and animals need them to live happy, safe, and healthy lives. Just remember, with most toys that your dog can chew or break apart, it is important to supervise so that they do not harm themselves, choke on broken pieces, or swallow things that they are not supposed to!

Doggie Boredom Busters: Part Two

Physical Exercise
Why is physical exercise important? When a dog is full of energy, it makes it difficult for them to focus on things like self-control and patience. When a dog has excess energy, they often find ways to get rid of it on their own if we do not help them find more positive outlets. This is where exercise comes into play!

For most dogs, a walk or two every day is not enough to release all their energy. But what are some other ways to help your dog get more physical exercise?



  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Skating/Biking
  • Hiking
  • Therapy
  • Tricks!

Canine Sports
Did you know there were sports for dogs? These range from obedience competition to water rescue and Dock Jumping. It is important to know your dog and what they enjoy as well as their physical limits. Never push a dog to do something that they are afraid to do. Canine sports are meant to help us have fun with our dogs while they get some much-needed exercise!

  • Agility
  • Canine Freestyle
  • Disc Dog
  • Dock Jumping
  • Herding
  • Tracking

There are even more canine sports than what I have listed above, and it is always important to research and find a trainer to help you work with your dog to maintain safety while still having fun. Many specialized dog training professionals also have facilities that cater to their sport and will often also offer classes for interested dog owners to learn how to play these sports with their dogs.


This sport often brings dogs through a course of ramps, weave poles, teeter totters, and other obstacles that test them physically. Agility can be competitive or simply for fun, but it is important to work your dog safely and not push them past their limits on a course. Whether your dog is competing or not, the goal is for you both to have fun!

Canine Freestyle
Many dogs can learn to dance with their owners, regardless of their breed(s). Canine freestyle requires a close bond of trust between dog and handler and can be fun and exciting for both parties. Dogs can learn to spin, jump, climb, and more to a tune and dance right alongside you!

Disc Dog
Disc dogs love to chase and catch! These dogs burn energy running after a thrown disc and can even do tricks at the same time. There are no limits on size or breed here, and both dogs big and small can enjoy this sport with their owners!

Dock Jumping
This sport consists of a dog running and jumping off the edge of a dog, typically after a toy thrown into the water. It is important to make sure you play this sport safely, and dogs that are not completely confident in the water should wear lifejackets! These dogs love water and will often get excited simply at the sight of a lake or pool.

There are many breeds that can participate in herding, though some dogs just seem to be born to herd. Herding can take place with sheep, ducks, and other animals and requires a confident dog with great self-control. Herding dogs work at a distance from their handlers to control a herd and lead them into a specific location.

This sport involves the nose! Dogs that are typically good trackers fall into the hound breeds, but many different types of dogs can enjoy tracking! Skilled tracking dogs can even work with search and rescue teams or simply enjoy exploring and finding hidden objects that their owners have placed for them.


These are only some of the sports that you can play with your pup. In the end, whether you are playing a specialized sport or just enjoying a hike or a swim with your dog, physical exercise is important. It gives an outlet for energy, allowing your dog to relax without becoming over stimulated or bored. When your dog has a way to get rid of excess energy, they can focus more easily to make training and bonding with their family fun instead of frustration and boredom.

Interested in learning more about training and working with your dog? Check out our training page for more information on group and private training with Victoria at

Doggie Boredom Busters: Part One

Many dogs spend several hours a day laying around with nothing to do other than to “play” with the toys left lying on the floor for them. These toys are not as enticing as they might have been when they were new or when you were playing with them too! This day-to-day boredom is one of the most common reasons for several different types of negative behaviors that dogs may display. But, how do you know that your dog has a serious behavioral problem or is simply just bored?

Ask a Professional Trainer.
Behavioral problems can be mild to severe and most dogs need to be worked with on a case-by-case basis to help them cope and function in a safe and healthy way. A professional trainer will be able to assess your dog to see if your concerns should be addressed with specific training.

There are several different ways to tell if your dog may need more enrichment in their everyday life. Enrichment helps your dog enjoy life and battle boredom on their own. As well, it can help you have fun with them from time to time too! Bored dogs may chew on things they are not supposed to; these items can be your kitchen chairs, the sofa, the baseboards, drywall, or many other items around the house. Some dogs may even go out of their way to do this while you are around to get a reaction from you, aka your attention! Other symptoms of boredom may show themselves through jumping, attempts to ‘escape’ the house or the yard, destruction, or trying to initiate a game of chase by stealing something from you.

How do we combat Doggie Boredom?
Exercise! But did you know there are different types of exercise for your dog? Both Physical and Mental exercise help fight boredom in dogs.

Physical Exercise. It is important that dogs get out of the house and can get in at least some physical exercise every day. Dogs are active animals, and when they do not get out to walk and explore, they tend to give in to boredom behaviors. Daily exercise is not only important for your dog’s physical health but also their mental health as well! One of the main things that contributes to negative behaviors in dogs is a lack of exercise. If our dogs do not have a positive outlet for their energy, they often find not so positive ways to let it out instead. This is often when they chew on things, jump on people, and bark excessively.

  1. Fetch
  2. Scent Tracking
  3. Dancing
  4. Team Sports
  5. Swiming

Mental Exercise. Tiring out your dog’s brain is just as important as tiring out their body! When a dog’s mind is bored, but they are physically tired, they can still get into trouble. Fortunately, there are many ways to work the mind of your dog daily.

  1. Training!
  2. Puzzle Toys
  3. DIY Puzzles

Combining Physical and Mental Exercise. There are many ways to combine your dog’s physical and mental exercise into one activity. These exercises not only work their body but help them work their brain to tire them out and enrich their lives!

  1. Hiking
  2. Agility
  3. Trick Training
  4. Scent Tracking
  5. Hide and Seek

Overall there are many ways to help combat boredom in your dog. Exercising your dog both mentally and physically can not only help keep them entertained and enrich their lives, but it can also make training easier as well! Remember to have fun and make sure that your dog enjoys the games as well! And remember, training is important even for the most well-behaved dogs. Even adult pups can benefit from group classes and learning new things!

Check out our training options at for information on our upcoming classes and private sessions.

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