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Sun, Dec. 15

All about Pets: Hot weather games can ease boredom, stimulate brains in animals

All About Pets: Christy Powers

All About Pets: Christy Powers

In case you have not noticed, it is quite hot outside! Not a great time to be out throwing a ball. The inclination is to be sitting inside with the AC running and reading a good book, but our dogs are bored so I have been trying to find fun games to play with them inside. Scent training and hide-and-seek are two favorites, but also, some fun tricks can keep those brains working.

Playing hide-and-seek with the dog is great fun once he gets the hang of it, and if you have a youngster at home, who also may be bored, it can be a family event. To begin, have the dog and the child, or another person, in the room with you. Give the child a treat to hold in his hand, but let the dog see it.

Then ask him to go hide in a closet, back hall or laundry room - don’t close any doors. Have the dog stay with you.

When the child is in place, tell him to call the dog. Hopefully, the dog will run to find him and when he does, he gets the treat. You can do this three or four times, but don’t let it become boring. If you have a flight of stairs in your home, this adds to the exercise.

If you are alone with the dog, have the dog sit and wait while you go hide. Start with an easy place. Call him and give him the treat when he finds you. Eventually, you will want to just hide a treat, then tell him to “find it”. You might have to help him find it the first couple of times. Eventually, he will catch on and once you say - “find it’, he will begin the search.

Another use for this activity is when you have to leave home. Place a few dog biscuits or other nonstaining treats around the house in fairly easy to find places, at least to begin with. When you leave, he will be excited to begin the search. Baby carrots work well for this game also and are low in calories.


Kenyon and Phoenix are not bothered by the heat, and Phoenix is always eager to chase a ball. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Another way to use the stairs, particularly if you have an open staircase, is to stand at the top and throw your dog’s favorite ball or stuffed animal down to the bottom. When he brings it back up to you, give him a little treat to reward him for bringing it back to you. This also works if you have an elevated deck. Throw the toy from the upper level down to the ground - and hopefully, the pup will want to chase after it. If your dog is not a born retriever, getting a treat for bringing it back can be a good incentive.

There’s another fun game for our dogs, who have this amazing sense of smell. Get three or four small-size boxes - shoeboxes would be perfect, or non-see- through plastic containers would work. Line them up on the floor and let the dog check them out so that he is comfortable around them. Take a rather smelly treat and slip it under one of the containers. You can let him watch you do this, then tell him to ‘find it’. After a few practice runs, have him sit facing the other way while you slip a treat under one of them. Then tell him to “find it”. This is a great and stimulating activity.

Just remember, even though it is hot outside, our dogs still want their walks, and it is super healthy for us as well. If the sun is shining brightly, wear a hat and sunglasses.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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