Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Games

When it is sub-freezing in North Texas, the dogs like to be outside just long enough to take care of business. Unfortunately, they still require an outlet for their extra energy. 

For the dachshunds, that means a couple of laps around the living room. Then it's back into hibernation mode.  They are happy to exist like this for days on end.

The big dogs are an altogether different story. They have the potential to become quite unruly inside if left to their own devices. So I invented winter games. The major goal of the winter games are to produce calmer, quieter, big dogs. These winter games have been evolving over several weeks. In the beginning the winter games consisted of me running up and down the stairs followed by the big dogs. While it did produce the results I wanted, I quickly sensed that this took way too much of my own personal energy. 

The next step in the evolution of the winter games was for me to stand at the foot of the stairs, throw kibble up the stairs, and watch the dogs run up the stairs, eat the kibble, and run back down until I threw more kibble up, over and over. This worked pretty well. It certainly took less of my energy, while the big dogs used up their energy. Then Gus figured out if he just stayed at the top of the stairs waiting for the kibble's arrival it would save his energy expenditure as well.

Winter games phase 3 moved into one of the upstairs bedrooms where there is an antique wooden bed. There is enough clearance for the pit bulls to rocket under the bed, if they are given the correct motivation. Again kibble provided the motivation. I called this game, commando-dog. It goes like this: dogs sit and watch me throw kibble under the bed, dogs dive under bed, gobble kibble, come out from under bed - repeat over and over and over. Until Gus figures out if he just stays under the bed and waits for the kibble's arrival again his energy expenditure decreases dramatically.

Phase 4 winter games is a little more structured. The rules are a little bit tighter. For this game both dogs are required to "sit and wait". The "wait" is crucial to the game - I think it helps Gus see that the game has a beginning and an end. This game begins in the hallway outside the second upstairs bedroom. There is an ottoman placed inside the doorway the dogs will have to jump over before they reach the kibble reward. Both dogs are required to sit, then "wait". Gus already knew my word "wait" and my hand signal. Gracie caught on real quick by watching Gus. Here they are "waiting".

I then step over the ottoman, toss out 8-10 pieces of kibble, wait however long I feel like waiting, then give the "go" signal, along with saying the word "go". They zoom over the ottoman, collect their kibble reward and we do it again. Here they are collecting kibble.

It looks like this.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks fer visitng my blog! I am going to put you on my friends list, and mom sez you are cool and is gonna try some of those games for energy! I will be reading you and saying hi!