Digging in the sandbox-
We may have "buried treasure" to search for or we might just dig for the sheer fun of it!
Swimming and/or splashing in the pool-
Kiddie pools are available at certain times for our water-loving students and also to expose other students to novel stimuli in a safe environment.
Modified Agility and
Hurdles, wobble boards, cavaletti poles, the labyrinth, tunnels and weave poles teach confidence, self-awareness, impulse control, focus, improve balance and can calm excessive behaviors. All dogs participate at their own comfort level and progress according to their confidence and initiative. Positive rewards are dished out with every attempt to navigate the obstacles (even if that means just touching them with their nose).
"Find It" games-
Whether we use "hidden prize" interactive puzzles, staff members hidden within the facility or favorite toys or treats hidden in boxes, bags and containers, variations on seeking and finding teach problem-solving, impulse control and appeal to the prey drive of many of our canine students.
Sometimes the dogs chase each other (with supervision so every dog has fun), sometimes staff plays "tag" with the dogs and sometimes the dogs chase bubbles! Chase games provide great exercise, appeal to the prey drive and are also a fun way to teach a good recall ("come") command.
Mental games can be just as exhausting as physical games and require dogs to use problem-solving skills, reinforce basic manners and impulse control. Some of the games we play include "Red Light, Green Light" which requires dogs to sit when the game leader calls out "red light!" The dogs can move again once "green light!" is called out. "Building Bridges" is another game we play often that requires participating dogs to sit on a designated towel. A second towel is placed in front of the first and the dog must move forward to the new towel and sit on that one. The towels keep moving forward (along with the dog) until we reach the desired ending point.
With puppies and less confident dogs, we like to spend time exposing them to new surfaces, objects, challenges and experiences under gentle, guided supervision and lots of positive reinforcement. A few games we play use the "Flutter Curtain"-different materials hanging from a bamboo pole a dog can walk through, as well as the "Magic Carpet"- a carpet made from ever-changing materials (plastic sheeting, bamboo mats, carpet) so dogs can experience walking on various surfaces and textures. These games provide opportunity for dogs to experience new things as fun and good, not bad and scary.