Entertainment adds zing to our lives. And while it seems hard to believe, it’s true that the same holds for our dogs. They need to be kept well entertained too! However, their preferences of course are far different from ours. Find out what interest them!!!
Can dogs watch television?
Yes, dogs do look at the television. It may be due to the movement, the sound, the music or perhaps another animal on the screen, but this usually only lasts a few seconds, so the dog may quickly get bored. Sometimes the introduction or ending music of a television programme may be the conditioned trigger that tells your dog that he is about to get his dinner or go out for a walk etc. However, what your dog would prefer to do is to be mentally stimulated, i.e.?–?out sniffing around in a forest, a casual walk with his owner exploring the environment, searching for some hidden treats, chewing on a Kong stuffed with food, playing with a treat ball, or chewing a big meaty bone, using his senses and brain.
What entertainment do dogs like?
Dogs usually have a very strong exploration streak, and they love scanning new environments to see what may interest them. They may even stop to watch something interesting out of curiosity or to work out if the situation is safe or dangerous, but it would only be for a few seconds and the dog may go and investigate or ignore it completely depending on the breed. They are most entertained using their instinctive behaviours such as nose work, exploring, digging, chewing and playing. It may be worth researching your own breed of dog and finding out just what they were originally bred for, this will help you to understand your breed and their instincts better.
What games do dogs like to play?
You will be surprised to find how many mentally stimulating games there are that dogs like to play. Physical games such as ball games, tug games, swimming are okay if kept short. Other games for your dog are games that will challenge his brain and teach him to think such as finding hidden treats, food stuffed Kong’s, old cereal box with boxes one inside the other and the last box with treats, etc. You can even train a few tricks such as rolling a ball, retrieving named objects to you, finding toys or even another person. It just takes a little imagination to think of fun and interesting ways to stimulate your dog’s brain. Care must be taken not to encourage behaviours such as chasing. This is a natural instinct that can become very strong and very hard to stop.
Do dogs get bored?
While this is something none of you will be prepared for, the truth is that dogs do get very bored sometimes. A bored dog is like a bored child and will need to find a way to stop the boredom by looking for something to do. A dog who is tied up or placed in a kennel all day with nothing to do and no mental stimulation is very likely to develop behavioural problems, just as we humans would in the same situation. Dogs love to use their nose. Rather than ‘blocking’ inappropriate activities, develop your own relationship by sharing activities such as tracking and other types of nose work. Each day dogs need to think, play and exercise both physically and mentally, to explore new environments, and to be understood and loved. With a good balance of these, your dog will be a happy healthy dog.
Why do dogs sleep so much?
In the wild, dogs need to conserve their energy for hunting. Hunting requires a lot of energy for a dog and a lot of stress is placed on them as they are using their physical and mental energy. Time between hunting is spent resting, calming down and lowering the stress levels. Apart from puppies and adolescents, dogs in the wild very rarely play, conserving energy for hunting and rearing puppies. In living with humans in urban areas, this natural instinct to save energy still applies. The dog will sleep most of the day, saving energy for play, walks, nose work, exploring etc. It is a case of “old habits die-hard,” and it’s up to us to see that they get their share of rest, and all the love and care they deserve.
(Nicole Mackie has a certificate each in canine psychology and behaviour along with many short courses in clicker training. She is a dog training instructor at the Sheila Harper Canine Education Centre in the Midlands of England. She also takes clicker training seminars in New Zealand.)