Keep boredom at bay

Dog training is like an investment. You will see the returns by sticking with the programme for the long haul. Training can improve not only your dog’s quality of life, but your own
Treasure Hunt
It is a great way to stimulate your pet’s brain and teach him to use all his senses. You can hide a treat or a favourite toy. Begin with something simple. Hide a treat/toy somewhere obvious and let your pet see this place. Then ask him to ‘find’. Once your pet understands the game and gains confidence, you can increase the difficulty level.
You can add variety to this game by hiding treat under cups or objects and ask your dog to choose the right cup by pawing or nudging.

Teach them tricks
Every time you are teaching your dog something new, you are providing him with a mental challenge. Search around for new tricks to work on. You can watch some videos on the internet or ask a trainer to help you. You can also purchase dog puzzles or treat dispenser toys or make one at home yourself. If your dog eats packaged dog food, you can give at least one meal of the day as a reward for a puzzle for your dog to work on. This interactive game challenges your dog’s brain and sharpens their problem solving and analytical skills.

‘Fetch’ is one of the most basic and most loved games by dogs. Once your dog knows how to retrieve a toy, you can add variants to the game by adding more commands or tricks to it. You can play this game indoors or outdoors. Playing it on the stairs will keep your pet fit.

Flirt pole
It is an easy DIY toy that not only helps your dog work on his basic manners and impulse control but also gives him fun workout in just a few minutes. You attach your dog’s favourite ball or tug toy to a long object (pipe or rope or old tee). It is like a giant cat toy which you drag around on the ground and your dog chases and tugs on it. There are some rules to the game. Ask your dog to ‘Sit’ or ‘Lie Down’ when you start the game. Then tease your dog with the Flirt pole by dragging it around but ask your dog to ‘Stay’ and not take the toy till you give a release command ‘Take It;. After a little chase, reward your dog by allowing him to catch the toy and play little tug with it until you ask him to ‘Drop It’.

Run errands with your pet
A quick run to the vegetable vendor, a stopover at a friend’s house, or a quick car ride in the evening, running errands can be so much fun when you have your furry companion along. It also gives them a chance to explore the world and meet new people.

Agility at home
Dog agility does not have to be only an outdoor game. You can use chairs, hula hoops and any existing furniture to teach your dog to weave and jump over, or crawl under. You can also teach him weaving forward through your legs or to jump over your legs.

Travel with your pet
There is nothing as exciting and therapeutic as travelling with your pet. Go for a hike, take him to the beach, or just a laidback picnic near the lake. Let your dog get dirty and enjoy every little moment. It is a great way to bond with your pet and relax.

- Pranita Balar
(Pranita Balar is canine trainer based in Mumbai).

Pet query
Q. My 6-year-old daughter Asmi keeps cuddling Simba (3 months), our pet cat, a bit too hard at times. I’m scared if he scratches or bites her. What precaution can we take to avoid any allergies?
— Sandesh Zele
A. Research shows that exposure to pets is associated with a significantly reduced risk of asthma and some allergies. There are many social benefits to children who have pets. Having said that, enusre that your cat is in good health by having regular examinations by your vet. Be up to date with vaccines and regular deworming. Discourage pets from sharing your bed or licking faces and follow good hygiene at home
—Dr Umesh Kallahali

Are you a proud pet parent? Have a cute cat story to share? Maybe your guinea pig is giving you trouble? Whatever is your creature companion, we are here to listen to you. Send your photos, queries and stories to [email protected]