Help me with some PlayTime Learning Activities For Puppies!
January 27, 2011 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I've been raising dogs for most of my life but this is my first time having a solo large breed puppy in an urban environment.

Please give me some ideas to use our play time together with useful games and play to satisfy her very inquisitive puppy mind. FWIW she's half Dudley Lab and by the size of her head and paws probably half St. Bernard.

She's not a pain in the ass or anything, hasn't destroyed any furniture or clothes, but she's a keen pup and I'd like to give her as many positive and educational experiences as I can.
posted by snsranch to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A huge piece for me and the Siberian Husky pup was a lot of socialization with both other dogs and with people, she goes to work with me (a lucky situation for us). We spent a lot of time in obedience classes, and significant time with ongoing training and practice on basic commands. And, lots and lots of exercise (Dog park, running, walks, fetch).

She's a wonderful companion, pretty well behaved, loves other dogs and people... and, today, took my chicken sandwich off my desk when I turned away... I went without lunch.
posted by HuronBob at 7:31 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

My dog loves to play hide and go seek with toys. I ask her to sniff a toy, and then sit and stay in a room in the house while I hide the toy somewhere. She then looks all over until she finds it. We started slow, of course, by putting the toy right in front of her, pointing at it, and saying, "go get your toy!" until she picked it up, which got a treat reward. I then progressed to pointing to the general area of the room where I hid it. Now, searching for it seems to be a reward on its own. It's a great exercise in a number of basic dog skills, and seems to be an engaging challenge for her.

She also has a Buster Food Cube which she really likes to bat around and scarf up whatever comes out, even when it's just regular kibble in it. She's a chewer, so something that she can't destroy easily is great. Caution, though: it's very loud on hardwood floors.
posted by quiet coyote at 8:09 PM on January 27, 2011

Our rescue beagle benefited greatly from dog training classes. He met other pups, and each week we got a homework assignment to work on. He loves training. It gives him huge rewards with praise and treats and he gets my undivided attention. He also plays a mean game of hide n seek. We hide treats around the room. He's a hound. He loves to search with his nose. And he would steal my chicken sandwich in a second.
posted by toastedbeagle at 8:17 PM on January 27, 2011

Definitely take positive training classes. It's good for both of you and it keeps you honest about the training you put in, plus it's socialization and an hour a week just for your dog. I teach dog training classes and am pretty good at training my own dogs, and I still take two classes a week with each dog (and it's an ongoing process, I take classes throughout the dog's life - you and I weren't done educatin' after kindergarten, neither are dogs - it's drives me crazy when people have a dog who clearly just isn't trained and reinforced regularly and they complain that they "took a puppy class" but that somehow it "didn't take", as if humans learn everything they need to know to live after a month or two at preschool). Also train with at least one meal a day (i.e. use the food as reward cookies) - pick a new trick to teach your dog every week in addition to your homework for basic manners. Get a good clicker tricks book and work with your dog every day, and you will have a much happier dog. I try to never just feed a young dog out of a bowl, that's giving away training opportunities - either use the meal as rewards for training work, or feed it out of a Kong or other stuffable toy in the crate (which is also training). Dogs need mental exercise as well as physical exercise. Even five minutes twice a day can make a huge difference to how well-trained a dog becomes (I train "stay" while I am preparing their dinner, for example, and I train sits and downs with breakfast). And remember that you are training your dog every single time you interact with it, whether you're aware of it or not.
posted by biscotti at 5:32 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

My big boy would never steal a chicken sandwich. He's never gotten on the bed or the sofa. He's the best dog ever. He does, however, fart like he's getting paid to do it.

The toys where you can hide food are a favorite of my dog. Filling a kong with wet food and freezing it is another popular item especially in the evenings. Play dates, impromptu or planned, with his puppy buddies. I have a friend whose dog goes to doggie daycare a few times a week. Take your dog to different places, not the same park using the same route all the time. Vary the route and the places you go, on the weekends do hikes or try parks that you don't ordinarily go to, the beach or the woods.

I highly recommend obedience classes but try different places if it feels like you're not making progress. My third one was the charm. Keep in mind though that most training is you not the dog. You have to know what to say, how to say it and when to say and be consistent. Large dogs in urban environments have to behave. I can't pick up my 120 guy if he were to go barking at another dog or a person the way my neighbor with the Yorkie can. He has to know heel, down and off as well as the sit and come.

My neighbor's rescue greyhound knocked out the tooth of a homeless guy when it jumped up to say hello to him. (The guy had only a few horrible teeth left but still.) They've done a great job with the greyhound but this incident brought home to them how a kind of annoying habit is really not cute.

Let everyone pet your dog. Take him to the groomers and the pet store. Make is life interesting.
posted by shoesietart at 8:13 AM on January 28, 2011

Buy a nose lead/gentle lead/haltie, while he's young. Get him used to wearing it, and it will convince him that the best way to walk is beside you. No pain, no fights (beyond his adjustment period, because he'll try to scrape it off at first).
posted by IAmBroom at 11:09 AM on January 28, 2011

Hey thanks for the great ideas! We're definitely taking classes with her and have already had non-group puppy training and you guys are right, I think I learned as much as she did. Thanks again!
posted by snsranch at 1:03 PM on January 29, 2011

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