Your dog’s bouncing with energy but it’s raining too hard to take her out for a long walk, and you can’t stand the theatrical canine sighing any more. What should you do?
If your dog has learned to carry his lead, you can try extending the trick and asking him to take one of your bags for you. Pick a soft, washable bag – a fabric tote is ideal for larger breeds, but you may have to find something much smaller if you have a little dog. It’s a good idea to put one or two light items in it before you start (you could include a packet of treats or a favourite toy for rewarding him after he’s been carrying the bag for a while). Knot the handles if it will make it easier for your pet to carry.
1 Start by placing the bag somewhere accessible and obvious. Stand at the other end of the room and ask your dog to ‘Take it’. If your dog starts to rummage about with the contents, however, discourage him with a firm ‘Uh-uh’. As soon as he picks it up, praise him and call him to you.
2 He may be rather tentative about carrying something with some weight. If he hesitates or puts the bag down, ask him to ‘Take it’ again, and
call him to you right away.
3 As soon as he gets it into his head that he needs to come to you with the bag, he’s got the basic idea of the trick. Even if he’s only carried it across the room, make a big fuss of him and look in the bag for a toy or a treat to reward him. Then practise regularly, increasing the distance between you. When your dog can bring you the bag from another room in the house, you can try the trick when out shopping. You can even ask him to hold your bag while you’re getting out your purse to pay!
Less a trick than an activity, bubble chasing can be an effective way to use up a bit of excess canine energy on a rainy day. Dogs are often simply amazed by bubbles, and you’ll love the surprised expression on your pet’s face as he finally gets right up to his elusive prey – only to have it go ‘pop’ on the end of his nose. You can use a child’s bubble-blowing set or even a wand with a strong soap mixture to blow the bubbles with. Start gently, blowing a small string of bubbles close to your dog; then, when you’ve caught his attention, try sending them around the room or blowing them in front of an electric fan to get him jumping around after them.
Did you know: If your dog becomes a serious bubble enthusiast, you can indulge him by buying some of the commercial just-for-dogs bubble options – you can find bacon- or chicken-scented bubble mixes online or in large pet shops – plus machines that will even do the bubble blowing for you.