Here we are at day 32 of isolation and our dogs are loving having us at home. They have our company, they can play with us (even if we are supposed to be working), they get walks, possibly a few more treats....doggy heaven.
Here are some ideas to make your relationship with your dog/s a little more stimulating if you feel it's getting a little boring.
The Garden Snuffle Mat: take a handful of dried dog food, or chop up a carrot into little pieces, and scatter through the grass. Let your dog search for the pieces of food. If you don't have much lawn, or have a very small yard, try hiding pieces of food around the house and yard area and encourage your dog to search for them. This stimulates their natural hunting skills.
Hide and Seek: hide behind a door or in a wardrobe or behind a curtain and call your dog. Stay very still...dogs' eyes are programmed to see movement. Your scent will already be quite concentrated in the house so they will need to rely on eyes and ears. Try not to giggle as they wander around searching for you. Some dogs are very good at this. Others will be very puzzled.
Treasure Box: Another hunting skills activity. Take an empty toilet roll tube. Loosely wrap a treat in paper and insert in the tube, then fold the tube ends closed so it doesn't fall out. Give this to your dog to open up and find the treat.
If they find this easy, repeat the treat-in-tube part, then hide this inside another container. I'm thinking a tissue box or shoe box that has been filled with crumpled up paper (newspaper or junk mail). The dog has to snuffle through the scrunchies, find the tube, open the tube and find the treat.
Obstacle Course: This is something that kids will enjoy doing too. It can be very simple: some hurdles for stepping over (a stick or broom laid across a path or propped on bricks), some things to weave around (rocks, bricks, pots, garden gnomes), something to to jump up onto (a stool or a chair) and perhaps a balance beam (a low brick wall or garden edging). Put the dog on a lead and heel them around the course. Use the 'jump up' item as a sit or drop stepaway. Practice distraction by putting the dog in a sit or a drop and bounce a ball, let the kids run around or zoom on scooters or bikes and keep that stepaway solid. Let the kids think up obstacles and take turns in handling and distracting. This will help your dog with their focus, enhance your handling skills and get everyone outside and moving.