We are allowed to walk our dogs during coronavirus restrictions, and here in Cornwall, even if we are remaining local to our homes, we are often spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful walks. But it’s been a long lockdown, so here at Dog Friendly Cornwall, we talked to some of Cornwall’s best known and loved dog trainers to get some great tips and training ideas to help keep you and your best friend entertained and to help to prepare for the world opening up again…
Many of these trainers are running fantastic online training sessions and have some resources on their social media pages and websites, so do look them up to find out more!
“I’m running lots of fun classes and workshops over lockdown, all online which work really well because the dogs and pups can learn without distractions.” says Ruth Collett of Ruth’s Pet Behaviour Services based in Falmouth. “Most dogs find it tricky to learn skills in a class with other dogs around so teaching puppies and dogs in the comfort of their own home works brilliantly.”
Tip 1: Try some sniffer dog training
Andy McCarthy runs Hotdogs K9 dog training near Wadebridge. The company are experienced UK Sniffer Dogs and Mantrailing UK Instructors.
“There are lots of benefits of teaching your dog Scent work,” says Andy. “They are a fun way to give your dog a mental workout as well as extra physical stimulation. Scent work also builds your dog’s confidence and improves focus around distractions. It is a way of giving your dog a job to do and it can strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Most of all Scent work is a fun and rewarding activity for both of you.”
Andy has this game you can try with your dog.
Hide And Seek
Hide and seek is a simple but fun game that teaches your dog a few important lessons. They’ll learn to use their nose to find you. They’ll also develop a stronger bond and will be more likely to come when called, even if they can’t see you.
You will do all of the hiding while your dog seeks. You can teach this with treats, though your dog will probably also enjoy the thrill of finding you. You can play the same game in the garden or in safe areas while out for a walk. When your dog is sniffing and not watching you, crouch down in long grass or hide behind a tree and call them. Remember to be very excited when they find you. You can reward your dog with high value treats or their favourite toy to build a stronger desire for the game.
For more tips and information visit: www.facebook.com/hotdogsk9
Tip 2: Enjoy Mindful time with your dog
Laura Dobb runs ‘Dog Sense,’ Cornwall and the SW Peninsula’s 1st dedicated indoor canine enrichment facility, based in Penzance.
“Dog enrichment is about making sure that as well as having their basic needs met, such as food, drink, sleep, regular walks and positive social contact, we make sure our dog gets additional important things in their life which will make them happier. These include things like play, freedom of movement, choices and chewing opportunities.
In lockdown in particular, dog owners may be interested in learning ways to calm down their dogs with slow, sniffy walks and other techniques instead of feeling like they have to run three miles to make up for a dog with a lot of energy after being ‘cooped’ up at home.”
As well as running Dog Sense, Laura also known as Lala Human Dog Coach and founded the Slow Dog Movement C.I.C. which aims to inspire and educate dog owners to slow down and simply enjoy being with their dogs as well as providing them with positive experiences.
“Enrichment, slow walking, calm social activities, and many other ideas are part of it,” explains Laura “But this does not mean that dogs can’t have fun and run about or engage in fast play. It’s all about doing calm activities too and providing dogs with choices in many elements of their life.”
“One way to slow down and give your dog a more enriching walk, and enjoy the benefits of nature and a more mindful, stress-relieving walk yourself is to try forest-bathing on a woodland walk with your dog. Forest Bathing with your dog is more than a slow walk. It is a meandering, or ‘sauntering’. This is a term that was used by the American Essayist, Henry David Thoreau,” says Laura. “A woodland journey where you leave your worries and dog commands behind. Use your five senses with your nose, mouth, eyes, ears, and sense of touch. Go barefoot when you can. When your dog ‘invites’ you to wade in the stream, consider and, if possible, accept. When you stop and touch a mossy stump, let your dog use her footpads or nose to sense that velvety texture too. Listen to the wind, bird song and nearby stream. Find a spot where you can sit quietly and let your dog explore safety and just sit quietly and tune in to the natural environment.”
You can find out more about Dog Sense and the Slow Dog Movement at these links:
Tip 3: Remember, lockdown will end eventually!
“My top tip would be to use this opportunity to practice teaching your dog to settle quietly on their own in preparation for owners returning to work and school,’ says Ruth Collett of Ruth’s Pet Behaviour Services.
“Leaving them in their crate, the kitchen or wherever you plan to leave them when you return to work is very important so they build a positive association with being on their own, with something enjoyable to do.
Give them a kong or puzzle feeder with chicken or sausage and veg as well as some of their normal food will motivate them to be happy for a while without their humans.
If they cannot cope in another room while owners are in the home, they will find it extremely difficult to cope when owners have left the house, so now is a good time to work on this.”
Find out more: https://www.facebook.com/ruthspetbehaviour/