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How to Entertain Your Dog on a Rainy Day

Shelter From the Storm.

Currently, a storm is battering us, and it's nothing but strong winds and rain. We live in a house made with concrete and my windows have decorative metal rails so unless a highspeed baseball-sized thing hits the house, it's practically impervious. All the pets are inside, and the cats are all in the old cat-fort we made purely out of cardboard boxes and hot glue, including some engineering tips from the internet. This fort was made a year ago as another stormy day project. 

However, Maui and Clara are also hanging out in the office and they are bored. Clara was afraid of the sudden gusts of wind and Maui kept barking whenever he hears something tumbling out there, which are likely pieces of corrugated iron roofs. This storm will last at least two days, and I need to make sure these two dogs' mental stimulation is not filled with fear and stress. The poor dogs aren't even playing together. I'm just glad that we still have power, however, the internet is spotty. 

With what little internet speed I had, I looked for fun activities I can do with my family and my dogs. The cats don't care. They can sleep with the flick of a switch for 21 hours. 

The first thing I did was some kind of free shaping, where the goal is to topple a cup. This also does some kind of rivalry training and the players are my daughter, Clara, Maui, and Saturn who wanted some attention. It's a 

I took my clicker, some dog biscuits, and a tall cup. My daughter is going to topple the cup, then I will click and give her a treat. For her enjoyment, I have a pocket full of small candies for her so she gets something out of it. 

This simple game begins with my daughter toppling the cup. I click, then I give her a piece of candy. Maui and Clara have to figure out to do the same. My daughter stared and toppled the cup. I clicked, and as soon as Maui and Clara heard it, they snapped their gaze toward me. As soon as I gave the reward, the two dogs followed the reward with their snouts but it went to my Daughter, who happily ate the candy. I placed the cup back up, and my daughter toppled it. Mara and Clara scrambled around the cup, probably thinking that the click as something to do with it. At every round, Clara and Maui got more and more excited, with Maui doing random things like sitting down and even barking. Clara was circling around and even spinning, but both of them are wagging their tails so they seem to be having some quality time. 

Suddenly, Clara figured it out. She slapped the cup off by jumping on it, I clicked and gave Clara the treat. Maui nearly wanted to grab the treat but Clara nearly chewed my finger trying to get it. I told my daughter to stop toppling it and just let Maui and Clara do their thing. Maui was stomping on the floor, trying his best to understand what the condition was, but Clara knew and jumped on the cup. Finally, in the next round, Maui toppled the cup and I clicked. When he got the treat, Maui did the adorable little tippy taps. I gave all of the participants treats, and took a small break. It was effective because Clara looked less scared and went back to curl into her doggy bed. Because of the storm, I will be returning Clara when it passes, but having a small dog was great in the household so we'll miss her.

I looked up some more activities and there's a lot to do, especially in places where rain is frequent and they happen to have a pet that doesn't like the rain. A lot of these are sensory-based games such as a fetch game where you hide treats everywhere in the house and you accompany your dog into finding them. I find that game great for Maui since we can do some kind of "Hunting" game. Maui really liked it when he helped me flush out a gigantic rat that somehow made it into the garden. 

There's also indoor fetch using tennis balls or glow balls, but Maui is a high-energy dog and so generates a lot of inertia. He can run quick, but he can't stop quick enough and before I know it, he's slamming into walls and table legs. Clara would be okay because to her, the house is vast. 

Tug-of-War is also a simple but fun game. Maui loves it, and when we sometimes play fetch, he wants me to pry the stick out of his mouth, and often, we destroy the stick. I bought him the ol' ball-and-rope toy but somehow, he didn't like it. He'd rather play a game of tug with tough things like sticks.  

I read about a "cup game" which is exactly what it sounds like. Take three cups lips down on the floor and place a treat under them. Then let your dog touch the cups with his nose. Reveal it and if it's a treat, let them enjoy it. When they start understanding what to do, start mixing the cups around. I doubt the dog will follow it, and only depend on their sense of smell to get it. 

Outside the nose work games, is another classic: Hide and Seek. You simply hide, call your dog, and let them figure out where you are. I've seen a lot of videos about this indoor game and it's always fun for the dog and the owner, especially when the owner gets to spook the dog after. Except for that one video where the dog yelped and jumped before hitting the camera. 

My daughter also has a large bottle of bubble mixture, but Maui didn't pay attention to it last time we used them. I think Maui eventually tasted it and didn't like it. I had my daughter use it in front of Maui and Clara, but it was uneventful. Clara was afraid of the bubbles, and Maui walked away from the office. 

All these activities are meant to give dogs some mental activity and of course, physical exercise. 

Nighttime came and as we expected, we lost power. We prepared for this, and while there was nothing to do, hid their favorite treats around the house. I made sure to count them because I don't want to leave them for pests to eat. 

Armed with a flashlight, I called Clara and Maui and started pointing at an area. I made sure to wash my hands beforehand to remove the smell of liver on them. Sure enough, Maui and Clara were sniffing around the old piano. Clara quickly wedged herself into the gap between the piano and the wall and got the treat and I praised her. I called them again and led them to the living room where I pointed at the lower shelves. Maui got to it first, and now the competition begins.

I led them to some cabinets and it was honestly fun to watch them sniff around, but then Clara started growling whenever Maui sniffs where she was sniffing to. I guess Clara felt the competition for the yummy treats. At this point, I think they understood the mechanics because Maui was starting to sniff other places and found some of the hidden liver. I waited until they got everything in the living room and then, called them to the dining area, where the last set was hidden. 

If this isn't a nice combo of mental exercise and physical activity, I don't know what is. The two dogs took different paths, guided by the smell. As the entire family cheered on, the game ended, with Clara having the lead, using her small stature and speedy nature to get all the treats. I called them both and gave them lots of praise, giving them some more of the liver, more for Maui to even out the number of treats between them. 

So, the way I see it with these two dogs, you don't have to keep them entertained for hours. 1-2 good stimulating activities are enough for them because afterward, they will do their own thing, like Clara who took some self-cuddle time in her bed after the liver hunt. Maui wanted to hang out and lay down beside him while I was checking my phone for news updates. 

The storm went on that night, but the dogs hopefully had an amazing time. We did as well because we went through an intense board game session, and the cats are nice and warm. I tried to play with the cats, but they were more interested in sleeping somewhere far from the extreme cold. 

I will miss Clara. If the storm calms a little bit tomorrow, I will be returning her to Vangie.

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