Life with a Smart Dog

Another windy, cold day here in the soybean field. Tried to walk this morning, but it’s as if the clock on the weather was turned back two months. We’ll try again shortly. Probably make cauliflower crust pizza tonight.

The trick on days like this is providing Oakley with physical activity and mental stimulation so that he doesn’t decide that it’s time for breakfast at 4 AM tomorrow. If I can get him out for one good walk, the former is solved.

The latter is a little more tricky. His trainers said that he was one of if not the brightest dog they’d ever worked with, and one of the contacts at the shelter said that the families who’d adopted his sisters had reported the same.  As with bright children, smart dogs need challenges. Otherwise, boredom sets in and the risk of destructive behavior increases. That’s why Oakley and I practice obedience training several times a week and he gets treats in a treat ball.

As he’s matured, the potential for chaos has decreased. While he was still a puppy and eating kibble, I fed him from a variety of puzzle toys to keep him from gobbling his food and make him think about  how best to get to the savory nuggets. I invented a game called Kibble from Heaven, sort of a canine quiz. I measured out his meal, then gave him a command. When he responded properly, I tossed a handful of kibble into the air, let it scatter on the floor, and waited until he’d cleaned it up, repeating until he was all done.

Nosework is another good way to enhance adverse weather days. I have some freeze dried liver that I keep for just such an occasion. I hide little chunks of it on end tables, stairs, the dining room chairs, any place that will challenge him a bit, but not so hard as to frustrate him.

It takes a little innovation, but the results have been worth it. I don’t need two holes in the drywall to get my attention.    

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