Thursday, 22 May 2014

Happy Hunting!

Another couple of wet days have kept me from doing much in the garden. Archie and Angel, who dislike water in any form, have been unenthusiastic about joining me out there, and watch incredulously from the warm dry safety of indoors as I check that hanging baskets aren't in need of watering (don't assume they are fine just because it's raining! Some need a LOT of water, and containers next to house walls don't always get very wet in even the heaviest of showers - well, not if your gutters work efficiently)

To keep boredom levels at bay I've been setting out treasure trails for them. This is a great game which most dogs love and which you can set up in the garden - or if it's a bit wet and your dog really prefers not to get wet feet, indoors. The videos here were taken yesterday while out in the secure paddocks I'm currently lucky enough to be able to use. As we made our first circuit round, I scattered the empty cardboard tubes from the centres of toilet rolls behind me, creating a trail for Angel to follow on our second circuit. The cardboard tubes of course, weren't completely empty - each had a treat inside and had then been folded up to keep it from dropping out. Obviously you can only do this on walks if you know there aren't going to be any other dogs around ... but if you want to try it in a bigger area than your garden, you could always try asking a local farmer if you could hire a paddock or field for an hour. In your garden, lay out the trail while your dog is still inside, otherwise he will be gobbling the 'treasure' as quickly as you can put it out. You can make it more interesting and challenging for him by using different types of treats, and maybe using different containers, such as (emptied!) cereal packets, large boxes, placing them under upturned (empty!) plastic flower pots, inside a twist of newspaper, or even under a towel or inside a treat ball. Having laid your trail out around the garden, encourage him to 'Find!' - if it is a new game to him, join in, running to the first and using an excited voice. You may have to help him find and unwrap the first one or two, but most cotton on pretty quickly, especially if you use treats with a strong scent. It's a great way of combining a bit of activity which won't tear up your lawn, with the excitement of hunting, the pleasure of finding and eating and using the sense of smell as well as sight - not to mention having to work out how to get hold of the 'treasure' once it is discovered in its hiding place. If you have two dogs, it is best to play this game with them individually so there is no bickering over the treats; and if playing it indoors, leave your dog in a separate room so he can't see you laying the trail round the rest of the house. Angel had a whale of a time following her trail, galloping from one to the next with a happy grin on her face!

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