Keeping Your Dog Busy Over the Holidays
Vivian Levén, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA
Dog Training Director

This is a busy season for most families. Time is precious! Your dog will want to "do something" as usual. Lack of enrichment in combination with change in routines can become stressful to your dog, so spend a moment to plan how you can keep your dog mentally stimulated and content through the holidays as well.

Below are some ideas

Dog can do alone

  • Stack up on marrow bones. These are raw bones you can find in the grocery store or select boutique pet stores and can keep your dog busy for long periods of time
  • Get a couple of extra Kong and stuff them with goodies and stack them in the freezer
  • Bully sticks. Not as long lasting but for the time you have guests arriving, during a dinner, etc it can be a high-value distraction to your dog.
  • Check out the Wobbler - a great food dispensing toy.
  • Put some high-value treats in a box and tape it shut. Give your dog a good time! If your dog is becoming really good at that then put the taped box in a taped box, in a toped box.
  • If you live in a house cut high-value foods in tiny pieces and toss it in the back yard for a scavenger hunt

You can do with your dog

  • Let your dog play with a Kyjen puzzle
  • Hide food in your house for your dog to search
  • Show the dog some really good treats and then put them under an old blanket and see if your dog can figure out how to get them out. You may have to help your dog in the beginning before she gets the hang of it!
  • Put some treats in a paper bag and see how your dog solves the problem to get the treats out
  • Put three plastic cups on the floor in front of your dog and hide treats under one of them
  • Play hide and seek with people. One person shows a treat and then runs and hides. Other person holds on to the dog and says "Where is X?!" and then lets go of the dog. Treat is deliverd by the person in hiding once the dog finds him or her. Begin with easy hiding places and increase level of difficulty
  • If your dog is reward marker savvy you can put any novel object on the floor and mark and reward for any attempt to look at sniff and later interact with the item. It can be a really fun game once the dog catches on.
  • Retriever games are great for dogs who enjoy them. Always trade with a treat when the dog returns to reinforce a solid retrieve.
  • If you have kids in the home, watching how to teach tricks on Youtube and then executing it can make for great family fun and will make your dog very tired.