A Game for Dogs Who Just Don’t Want to Play Fetch
Have you tried playing fetch with your dog, but he just doesn’t seem interested in returning the toy? We have just the game for your pup! Next time your canine companion is in the mood to play, try the “Chase Game.”
Reblogged from the Center for Shelter Dogs - a program of the Animal Rescue League of Boston
GOAL: To play a game with the dog which incorporates fun, training, and exercise.
You are the source of fun! Play energetically with your dog with the chase toy (lunge whip or tether with a lightweight stuffed toy tied to the end like this one from KONG). The dog should never make mouth contact with your hands or other body parts, must always drop the toy when asked, and must not ‘take’ the toy until the cue is given. Breaking the rules results in a temporary end to the game (and fun), for a minimum of one minute. Put the toy out of reach of the dog, and ignore the dog during the break.
1. Say ‘take it’ and then begin flinging and moving the toy around so that your dog can jump
at, chase, and attempt to catch the toy.
2. After some running, leaping, and chasing, allow the dog to catch the toy.
3. Cue the dog to ‘drop it’.
4. If the dog won’t release the chase toy, try:
- Putting a tasty treat right in front of the dog’s nose
- Tossing several treats onto the ground
- Squeaking a squeaky toy (which is kept in your pocket for this purpose)
- Dropping the chase toy
5. When the dog releases the toy, give the dog a treat and immediately encourage the dog to
‘take it’ again!
Download the Chase Game PDF
Reminder: October is Adopt-A-Dog Month! Here at the ARL we have many extraordinary dogs waiting for loving homes. Search our adoptable dogs now.
5 Steps to Keep Your Pet Happy When You Return to Your Busy Schedule
The start of the school year can be just as difficult on your pets as it is on your human family members. Any sorts of big routine changes like that can trigger separation anxiety.
Pets can become anxious or bored when left alone all day and may express that in different ways. In a recent survey, Pet360 discovered that 20 percent of pet owners with school-age children said their pets showed signs of anxiety or depression when everyone in the house went back to their normal routine at the end of the summer.
Here are 5 things you can do keep your pet happy:
1. Keep regular feeding times
For most pets feeding time is an important and exciting part of their day, so it’s key to keep breakfast and dinner at the same time every day. At our shelters we keep all of the animals on a structured feeding schedule. For dogs each meal time is followed by dog playgroup or a long walk. ”We always recommend to our adopters that you do a consistent morning and afternoon feeding time” says Carolyn Curran, Assistant Manager of the Boston shelter. Animals often nap after they eat, so your pet may snooze away much of his time alone after a meal and some play time.
Walking your dog and setting aside at least 15 minutes to play with your cat or other pet are essential to burning off extra energy. When you get home from work, get in the pattern of going to your local dog park, so that he can socialize. If you’re a runner, take your dog with you on your runs. “Start your dog out slowly. If you gradually increase the miles, your dog will become more fit and their pads will toughen up and make him or her less susceptible to injury” says ARL‘s Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM. “Three times per week, 15 to 20 minutes at a moderate pace is a good place to start. If your pet is a couch potato, start with walks.” Your pet will most likely be happier (and healthier) if he is getting the proper amount of exercise.
3. Learn new tricks
Pick a new trick to teach your pet and have the whole family work together on training him. This doesn’t only apply to dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals can also be trained. Check-out this guide on how to train your cat to sit! If your dog is athletic, consider enrolling in an obedience or agility class. We offer several classes here at the ARL. Your pet will enjoy the stimulation of learning something new.
4. Schedule a visit to the vet
Just like people, animals need vet checkups too. Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM says “a checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your pet is…. even healthy looking pets can have hidden problems.” Take your pets to the vet once a year to make sure that they’re healthy.
5. Prevent your pet from getting bored
Engage your pet while you’re gone, by leaving food puzzles for them (even rabbits and other small animals enjoy food puzzles). There are a variety of food puzzles and toys to choose from. If you’re a crafty cat lover, you can create a food puzzle for your cat by using this guide. It’s a fun activity for the whole family. For an easy to make dog puzzle, fill an empty marrow bone with some peanut butter and throw it in freezer. Leave the frozen treat for your dog when you leave the house.
Puppy Found Unconscious at Lowell Folk Festival, Now in League’s Care
The League has offered to provide care, training and safe haven to this special puppy saved by Lowell police and a pair of Trinity Ambulance EMT‘s after being dragged behind her owner on a leash at the Lowell Folk Festival on July 28. When the police found the puppy, now named Ramona, she was unconscious, laying on her side, with her eyes rolled back in her head – she was barely breathing.
Despite her horrific experiences, Ramona is a very spirited pup. Her internal strength is probably what helped her survive the tragedy of her abuse on the day of the Lowell Folk Festival. On the other hand, her feisty nature also means that she is a very exuberant and energetic puppy who could use a little “good manners 101″ when interacting with other dogs and people.
It’s possible that Ramona was taken from her brothers and sisters and mother too young, because she does not know how to appropriately behave with other dogs. Additionally, we do not know what other abuses she may have suffered during her young life that shape how she behaves with people today. She lunges at other dogs and does not know simple commands or show any sign of listening to people.
To help Ramona get on the right track we’re immersing her in daily play group with other dogs, and individual training, using positive, reward based training while she is still young enough to learn during her critical impressionable period (up to four months of age).
We know Ramona is smart and has a good nature. By giving her some “total immersion” training over the next few weeks and a lot of TLC, we hope to help shape her into a confident, well socialized dog who will be a safe, family dog when she grows up to the big dog that she is going to be! After a couple of weeks of training, we expect that she will be able to move to a foster home where she will live with another dog, continue her positive training and learn how to behave in a home setting.
As you may know, we operate the Center for Shelter Dogs, which is at the forefront of improving quality of life and behavior for dogs in animal shelters throughout the country. The programs we provide for our dogs’ entertainment can be found on the Center for Shelter Dogs website.
Court actions can take a while, so we are not sure when or if Ramona will be available for adoption. Anyone wishing to help support her care and other dogs like her can donate now.
So you’ve adopted a new dog and he’s coming home with you this afternoon. What next? We have some advice from Donna Iovanni , CPDT Behavior Counselor at the Animal Rescue League of Boston about how to welcome your new adopted dog into your home.
Before You Bring Your Dog Home:
- Gather Needed Supplies - Leash, Collar, ID Tag, Crate or Gates(if needed), Bed, Bowls, Food, Treats, Toys, Grooming Supplies, Waste Bags, Enzymatic Cleaner.
- Dog-Proof your house by looking for and removing hazardous items and valuable items that the dog could chew.
- Setup your house for the dog’s arrival. Determine where the dog’s crate, bed, and bowls will be placed. Decide where food, treats, and supplies will be stored. Determine the house rules for the dog and make sure all family members know what they are.
- Decide what the dog’s schedule will be for walks, play, training, feeding, and potty time and who will be responsible.
The First Day:
- Determine ahead of time where the dog will ride on the way home. It’s best to have two people if possible; one to drive and the other to pay attention to the dog. Bring towels just in case the dog gets car sick.
- Bring the dog straight home – try not to run errands on the way.
- No welcome-home parties. Limit/discourage visitors for the first few days so that your new dog isn’t overwhelmed.
- When you arrive home let the dog sniff around the yard or outdoor area near your home on a leash. Bring your dog to your designated potty spot and reward the dog with a treat for going there.
- Introduce your dog to your family members outside, one at a time. Keep it calm and low-key. Let the dog be the one to approach, sniff and drive the interaction. Offering a treat can help the dog to associate family members with good things(food!). No hugging, kissing, picking up, staring at, or patting on the top of the head during the initial introduction – these things can be scary for some dogs.
- Stay close to home initially. No major excursions. You need to learn your new dog’s behavior before you can predict how it will respond to different stimulus. Establish a walk routine in an area you are familiar with. Structured play in the yard is also a good form of exercise, bonding, and training.
- Bring your dog into the house on a leash and give it a tour of the house. Try keeping the mood calm and relaxed and redirect any chewing or grabbing of objects with a “leave-it” and offering an appropriate toy.
- Bring your new dog outside often. Dogs don’t generalize as well as we do, so even though your dog may have been house trained in its previous home, your dog needs to learn your house rules, which includes a house training refresher.
- Make sure your new dog gets ample “quiet time” so that your dog can acclimate to the new surroundings. Be observant of the dog’s responses and go at the dog’s pace.
- If you have a resident dog(s), have the initial meeting outside (one dog at a time if you have several). Don’t rush it. Keep the leashes loose with no tension. Make sure they meet in a food-free, toy-free zone. Don’t leave them alone together until you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so. Watch and manage all interactions between the dogs initially. When walking the dogs a different person should walk each dog.
- If you have a resident cat(s), keep the cat secure until you know how the dog will react to it. Use doors, gates, and leashes to prevent contact initially. Don’t give the dog the opportunity to chase the cat. Make sure the cat has escape options. Keep initial encounters brief. Manage all interactions.
Establish Daily Routines:
- Sleeping-Initially the crate or bed should be in the room you would like the dog to sleep in eventually. The area should be safe, dog-proofed, easily cleaned, cozy and quiet, with familiar scents. Don’t put your new dog in an uninhabited area like the garage or basement.
- Feeding-Check with your vet about what the recommended food and amounts should be for your dog based on breed, size, age, activity level, and health. If possible, feed two smaller meals per day rather than one large meal. You may need to reduce the meal size to allow for treats during training. Make sure the dogs food dish is in a safe, out of the way area.
- Walks – Keep the walks short at first (5-10 minutes) until you get to know your new dog’s behavior and how it responds to different stimuli. Keep to relatively quiet places at first. Avoid interaction with other dogs and unfamiliar people until you and your dog are comfortable.
- Chew Toys/Interactive Toys – Use of the crate and appropriate toys are great ways to keep your new dog out of trouble. Management of your dog and the environment prevents problem behaviors. Chew toys are a great way to direct your dog’s attention to appropriate toys, and away from objects that you don’t want your dog to destroy. Interactive toys help your dog to use its mind and tire them out, mentally. With a new dog, avoid rough and tumble, slapping, wrestling, and chase games when playing with your dog.
- Prevent separation anxiety – Use the crate and a toy in combination with leaving for short periods and coming back several times a day, starting with your first day with your new dog. Don’t make a big fuss of coming or going.
Patience- have patience with your new dog’s behavior, level of training, and the time it takes to establish a bond with you. Give your new dog time and space to adjust. Commit time the first few days to get to know your dog’s habits and personality. Establish a routine for the dog and balance interaction and down-time. This is a period of trust-building, so don’t scare or yell at the dog or try to force close contact. Watch your dog’s postures and expressions. Learn to read him. It may take even up to several months for you to get to know your dog’s true nature. And don’t forget, your new dog is trying to do the same with you!
Training- physical and mental stimulation are necessary parts of your dog’s well-being. Training helps your dog settle into a new home, teaches your dog how to fit in to a new family, and strengthens the relationship between you and the dog. Once your dog has settled in and you are familiar with your dog’s responses, take a positive reinforcement style training class(avoid dominance-based methods!). You can sign up for humane dog training classes at the Animal Rescue League’s Boston or Dedham’s Branches.
Last: Remember to manage your dog’s environment so that you set him up to succeed. Be proactive, not reactive. In other words, prevent inappropriate behavior from happening, and then you won’t have to correct it.
Here are 5 Benefits of Training your Dog from Kim Melanson CPDT-KA
Behavior Counselor at the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
Kim Melanson training Nala, one of our shelter dogs. Photo Credit: Maria Uribe
Freedom: A well behaved dog can have an enriching life by spending more time with his family. He can hang out with visitors, go places with you and join in on family activities. If your dog has learned some basic house and outdoor manners, he will not jump all over guests or bother them too much. He can ride in a car safely, go to a relative’s house and settle, go to the park or the beach for an outing and come back when called.
Bonding: With just a few minutes a day of active training and adding some training into every day activities, you and your dog can learn more about each other and have fun. The benefits of Positive Reinforcement Humane training are abundant. Both human and dog enjoy the training, they teach each other and learn from each other, creating trust and an enriching and lasting relationship.
It lets your “dog be a dog”: Dogs like to do natural things that sometimes do not fit well in the human home such as; chewing, jumping, chasing, and digging. Training them in an appropriate way to have their fun lets them to do ‘doggie’ things and lets you join in too all while making sure they do not disturb the household in a negative way. Train your dog to chew on dog chews and toys instead of shoes and pillows, sit for greetings and attention instead of jumping, playing ‘find it’ with treats and stuff Kongs instead of digging, and retrieving balls with a drop for chasing. Not only will your dog be happier but you will have fun too!
Burns mental energy and relieves boredom: Positive training promotes thinking in dogs and humans and a thinking brain can relieve excess energy. A few minutes a day can really help your dog rest well and not seek out other ways of burning energy that may be destructive. Teaching tricks is a great one to do on a rainy day, kids and friends love seeing your dog do tricks.
Keeps dogs in their ‘Forever’ Home: Many dogs are surrendered to shelters for behavior problems and just being too much to handle for the owner. A well trained dog stays in her forever home because she has become part of the family and is a joy to live with. She can also become an ‘ambassador’ for dogs everywhere. There are public places, apartment buildings and areas that are banning dogs and some people are frightened of dogs. If our dogs are well behaved in public, people see that we can keep dogs as an integral part of our society and families.
Training obedience cues of sit, down, stay, drop, come and more are great for dogs to learn, but training also means teaching your dog to live in a human household and beyond. House training, learning to settle, go to a mat or crate, to chew appropriate chews, to play appropriate games, to walk on leash and polite greetings for people and dogs are the cornerstones of a well mannered and well liked family dog.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston offers many dog training classes that review basic and advanced cues, along with house and outdoor manners. We also offer some dog sports and fun agility classes. We are offering a 50% discount for ARL alums and 10% off for BVC clients. For more information about our Boston classes check out our schedule.
So you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution for yourself, but have you thought about making a resolution specific to your pet? Here are 7 resolutions for pet lovers for 2013, because our four-legged companions always deserve a little more love! Take a minute to read through these and tell us which one you’re choosing for your New Year’s Resolution.
- Spend more time with your pet. Your cat or dog wants to be with you! After you’ve been at work all day, they can’t wait to see you! Pledge to spend an extra ten minutes with your pet every day. Get up ten minutes early and play with your cat or extend your dog’s walk by 10 more minutes or just take a few extra minutes to snuggle with your pup and scratch him behind the ear when you get home from work.
- Microchip your pet. We strongly recommend micro-chipping your pet. A microchip is an electronic device placed under the skin of an animal. The chips are about the size of a grain of rice and emit a low-frequency radio wave when detected by a special scanner. Pet microchips aren’t a tracking or GPS device but simply a way of storing a pet owner’s address and phone number if the pet is lost. For more information about pet microchips contact your vet, local animal shelter or Animal Control Officer. HomeAgain, a microchip and pet recovery service, is responsible for reuniting more than 1,000,000 lost pets with their owners.
- Bring your pet to the vet. The League‘s very own Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM says “a checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your dog is…. even healthy looking dogs can have hidden problems.” Take your pet to the vet at least once a year to keep vaccinations current, get heart-worm prevention renewed and make sure your pet is healthy.
- Take better care of your pet’s teeth. Dental Disease affects dogs and cats, just as it does humans. There are several ways to prevent dental disease in your pets. Give them treats that clean teeth. Brush their teeth on a regular basis, if you can’t use a toothbrush, use your finger and apply special toothpaste as suggested by your vet. If tartar buildup occurs, your pet’s teeth should be professionally cleaned by your veterinarian.
- Give your pet the proper nutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to poor health. There are many great dog food brands out there. Tell your vet what type of food you’re looking for, holistic, organic, all-natural, dental, weight control, etc… and ask your vet what brands s/he would recommend. An unbalanced diet can result in poor skin, hair coat, muscle tone, and obesity.
- Put an end to your pet’s behavioral problems. If your dog is misbehaving or if you want to teach him basic commands, enroll him in a dog training class. Dog training classes start at our Boston Headquarters on January 5. We offer a 10% discount to BVC clients and a 50% discount to ARL Alums!
- Allow your pet more opportunities to exercise. Most animals like to play, so find an activity that you both enjoy and go for it. Exercise is good for your pet and you! If your dog likes to run, try jogging a few times a week. If your dog likes to play fetch take him to the park and throw a ball around. For cats, try finding a toy that they like to chase.
The Doggy 5K this past Saturday raised over $3,000 for the Animal Rescue League of Boston. The event started at 10am at South Boston’s scenic Castle Island and was attended by over 300 participants, many of whom brought their dogs. The beauty of the course around Pleasure Bay and Castle Island’s Fort Independence was amplified by the gorgeous warm weather this past weekend. A wonderful time was had by all and even a few League employees ran and walked in the Doggy 5K!
After the race, participants and their canine companions were able to enjoy a variety of dog oriented activities in the park.
A big thank you to Racemenu and Doggy 5K for selecting the League to be their featured charity and to all the volunteers and attendees who made the event a success! Congrats to everyone who ran/walked!
Our very own resident dog trainer, Kim Melanson, shares some useful tips for new dog owners.
Whether you adopted a puppy, an adolescent, or an adult dog, these tips can help you and your new dog start off right.
Dog Training with Maria (L) and Twix
Teach your dog to love a crate, pen or a gated safe room, such as kitchen or laundry room. Confinement can help your dog learn proper housetraining and can prevent destructive chewing. To help your dog learn to love her crate or area, start by feeding in there, with door open. Then toss treats in crate or area and let her get them on her own. Do not close the dog in at first; after she has gone in a few times, feed her treats as she stands at the doorway before coming out. Use plenty of praise and the verbal cue ‘crate up’ as you toss treats in now. Close the door for a moment and feed a few treats through the door. Gradually work up to the dog spending longer time periods there and give the dog a good chew toy for longer time periods. Your dog will learn to love the ‘den’ feel of her crate.
Teach your Dog a Chew Toy Habit: Dogs are natural chewers and puppies need teething relief. Manage your house to prevent inappropriate chewing, using your crate or safe room for the dog when you are not home. Put your shoes, dirty laundry, garbage and other enticing household items that dogs might find fun to chew, out of sight. Offer your dog appropriate safe chewing items; there is an array of them to choose from. Food ‘puzzles’ such as Kongs, Bully Sticks, and even deer antlers are available for dog chews.
Exercise and Enrichment: Make sure to give your dog enough exercise. A brisk long walk, some safe off leash time or a game of fetch before you head out to work can help prevent excess energy coming out in destructive ways. Dogs like to interact and be with people; chose some games that you and your family would like to play with your dog, fetch, or just a walk in the woods are some good ideas. If your dog has a backyard, make sure they get some leash walks too, as dogs love to sniff around the neighborhood. If they are a city dog and walk on leash all the time, find a safe fenced-in area, such as the Joe Wex Dog Park, for some off leash time. If your dog is social, play with other dogs is good, but keep it to small groups, so you can keep the interactions safe.
Training: Teaching your dog some basic cues can help you and your dog learn to live happily with each other. Training will also help the dog and human gain some self control. It’s much more clear for the dog to understand one word cues like ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘drop’ rather than just saying “NO” all the time. Your dog can ‘sit’ instead of jumping, ‘sit’ for her dinner, and ‘sit’ for most any situation where “NO” was once your response or command. Recommendations to get started are ‘sit’and ‘Retrieve’ Training, which not only teaches a fetch but a ‘drop’. Enroll in a local humane ‘positive’ dog training class and your dog will learn even more, such as how to perform cues under distractions, and you are both sure to have fun learning together.
Have Patience: Your dog will need time to adjust and feel comfortable in your family and household. Have patience and empathy that it might be a stressful and confusing time for some dogs. They often show anxiety by chewing, over excitement, barking, and if fearful by shutting down, moving away and hiding. Be kind and go slow and let your dog’s personality come out at their own pace and you will truly have a great friend.
Training isn’t just for the dogs! When you teach your cat a “trick,” you are teaching her/him good manners and self-control, as well as providing ever-important mental stimulation. There is no end to what a cat can learn, but for now we’ll start with the basics. And don’t worry—teaching a cat to sit on command is easier than you’d think!
Step 1: Pick a Location
You want your cat to be focused on you, so make sure you’re in a room where there are no distractions. If you have more than one cat, separate them and work with one cat at a time. It’s often helpful to place the cat on a table where he/she is at a more accessible level.
Step 2: Pick a Treat
Make sure you’re using a food reward that your cat enjoys. Pick the one thing she can’t resist, such as commercial treats or small pieces of cooked, unseasoned meat. If your cat is extremely food motivated, you may be able to simply use pieces of dry food. Be sure to adjust your cat’s mealtime proportions if you are feeding lots of treats during training.
Step 3: The Training
Once you have your location and your food reward set, get your cat’s attention by showing him (but not giving him!) the treat. Then raise the treat just above and behind his nose, so that he must sit in order to reach it. If you’re having trouble, make sure your cat’s focus is on the treat, and then slowly arch your hand over his head until it’s about 90 degrees to the ground. As soon as he is in a full sit position, say “sit” and present him with the treat.
Tips & Tricks
- If your cat succeeds, repeat this about 4–6 times until your cat has the hang of it. Stop before your cat gets bored, in order to keep the training fun and something she wants to keep doing!
- If your cat isn’t getting it, don’t worry! Some cats take longer to train than others. Be patient and keep your training sessions to no more than 10 minutes, and your cat should eventually pick it up.
- If you have multiple cats, train each one separately. Then, when each cat is proficient, try both together. Ask them to “sit,” and once both are fully seated, reward both with a treat.
Now it’s time to impress your friends and guests! Have your feline show off her skills, and encourage others to try the “sit” command with your cat.
You can also have your cat sit for his breakfast and/or dinner, sit before being given a toy, or whenever you need his focus!
Did you like this post?
Be sure to check out our entire Feline Focus series:
When mealtime is one of the major events of your cat’s lazy day, don’t let it be boring! Have fun by turning dinner time into play time with food puzzles–they aren’t just for dogs! Mental stimulation is an important part of keeping an indoor cat happy, and what better way to make that kitty brain think than have it work for its favorite thing, food?
Is a Food Puzzle Right for My Cat?
When considering introducing a food puzzle to a cat, ask yourself: how food motivated is my cat? If he/she is running into the kitchen, meowing or pawing at your leg for his dinner, then chances are he’ll benefit from a food puzzle! Or if your cat goes crazy for treats, you can use food puzzles for treat time instead. There are a few commercial brands of cat food puzzles you can buy that work great, but you can also make one yourself.
How to Make Your Own Food Puzzle:
- Take an empty yogurt container (preferably a brand that has a plastic lid; or use any cylindrical container that has a lid and is soft enough to cut through). Carefully using a sharp knife or scissors, cut two holes on either side of the container.
- Use duct tape or sandpaper to soften the edges of the holes (make sure there are no sharp bits!)
- Place food inside and put the lid back on!
Be sure to thoroughly clean the container before using it, and always check homemade items for potentially hazardous materials before giving them to your cat. When first giving your cat a new item, be sure to supervise.
What If My Cat Doesn’t Like It Or Won’t Use It?
Some cats get the hang of food puzzles quickly, but others might stare at you wondering what on earth they’re supposed to do. For reluctant learners, you can start by using a large yogurt container and cutting big holes (big enough that the cat’s entire paw can fit inside). It may seem too easy–one good knock over, and most of the food has spilled out, but what your cat is learning is that if they push the container, they get food. Once your cat is a pro at that, move down to a smaller yogurt container. Once that is mastered, a commercial, weighted food puzzle will be a worthy purchase–or try cutting the holes so that your homemade food puzzle is more challenging!
Why Food Puzzles?
–Indoor cats generally have less activities to keep them mentally stimulated throughout the day. Having them work for food gives them a puzzle to solve and keeps their brains active.
–Cats who are prone to eating too fast and suffer from stomach upset/vomiting can use food puzzles as a way to slow down their food intake.
–Food puzzles give your cat some more exercise–and help keep them at a healthy weight!
Are You Sure Cats Really Use Food Puzzles?
Yes! Check out these photos of an ARL alum learning how to use a food puzzle, and a recent video of him enjoying a satisfying dinner as a food puzzle pro!