Saturday, July 10, 2010

Playing Mind Games

We've had Kuna for six days and this dog trainer is already learning so much! Most significant of all, we had the problem of Kuna not sleeping through the night. I'm talkin' up every 30 minutes to go to the bathroom, play or just be obnoxious! I know it's a lot to ask of a baby, so I tried not to hold it against him. But I just kept thinking, "this has got to get easier! How!?" After consulting my friend, Laurie Luck, who happens to be an expert in all things puppy, she suggested I tire him out more. Well, duh. We all know that dogs need to be tired! But if I'm being honest, all we did to tire him out was play with him and some toys throughout the day and then let him sleep when he was done. This was affording him so much snooze time during the day that of course he couldn't sleep at night! To get puppy to burn off even more energy, we decided that he should have puzzles and games just like our older dogs. Here are some ideas we've found really helpful:

Tupperware Tackle
Items needed:
2 small, Glad-like tupperwares
1 lid
5 - 10 pieces of dog's kibble

Place about 5 pieces of food in the tupperware. Set the second tupperware inside, creating a stack. Put remaining dog food in the top tupperware and put the lid on. Watch your puppy figure out how to get to their food!

T-Shirt Wrap
1 old t-shirt you don't mind getting destroyed
10 - 20 pieces of dog's kibble

Wrap your dog's food in the shirt, place pieces in different places throughout the shirt, bundle it up really tight and let your puppy have at it!

Protein Drink
Items needed:
1 empty water bottle with lid removed
all the puppy's food for that meal

Pour all of your dog's kibble inside the water bottle and let him try to figure out how to get the food. This may require you making the game a little easier - if you find your dog losing interest before all the food is gone, try cutting the mouth of the bottle off. You can also cut several openings in the bottle for food to fall out. This game is also great because your dog gets used to the sound of the water bottle crackling and it's immediately associated with good stuff like food!

These are just a few examples of how to make mealtime and playtime one in the same! We've definitely seen a difference in Kuna's nighttime habits - he slept until 5 am today for the first time! Combining these mealtime practices with a regular routine of play and exercise will help your new puppy work off that extra energy! As we speak, Kuna is sleeping on my laptop's shift key...snoring away. :)

**The games described above require constant adult supervision. Please do not leave your puppy unattended while playing with these items**

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