Battersea Q&A: Keeping my rescue dog exercised
(Q) My rescue dog Simon is really intelligent and gets bored easily. What can I do to make sure he’s being exercised mentally as well as physically?
(A) Battersea canine welfare trainer Nathalie Ingham says: Play and mental stimulation keep boredom and stress levels down, and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Like people, all dogs are different, and they’ll have their own ideas about what makes a perfect toy — some like toys that squeak, some prefer balls, and others are crazy about rope toys. Terriers seem to like shaking and ripping apart soft toys; Border Collies can’t resist chasing down a toy that’s been thrown.
Here are some basic games you can try, which will stretch your dog’s mind as well as his body:
- Chase and retrieve — many dogs will cover miles just chasing a ball in a field, and you can practise recall so he brings the ball back, drops it, and waits for the next throw.
- Search games — these encourage a bit more thought, and can be as simple as hiding food around the garden or his favourite toy somewhere in the house. His quest is to find the toy and return it to you; his reward is a successful find and a treat when he brings the toy back.
- Tug of war — this can be useful in diverting mouthing and chewing of hands or clothes on to a toy, but you must keep the tugging under control as many dogs get overexcited, so teach a leave command.
There are also organised activities you can do with your dog, such as agility, hiking, and obedience.