Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Aloha, Does anyone have any good Mental Exercises for Rasa that can be done without much participation from me? Although she is with me 24/7, she gets bored easily and I cannot be throwing balls all day. (just 1 hour in the early am, at noon and then one hour in the evenings) Along with walks during the day and going places in the car, etc. Still she craves more stimulation.

<when I first joined this forum, someone said "be more interesting" so true, so true.>

BTW, how does she know to come wake me at exactly 5:21 am every day?

Frank
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 03:42 PM
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Actually, fetch isn't very interesting, when you talk about mental stimulation. So that may be part of your problem.

We play games that require my dogs to use their brains. One of our favorites is "find it."

Start by tossing it right in front of her and saying "Find it" and when she jumps on top of it, praising her. Then toss it further away (telling her to Find It), a little further away each time, and praising. Then (and you might have to tether her for this unless you have a partner who can hold her or til she learns to hold a stay) go into a room where she can see you walk in and out of, and leave it there. Every time she brings it back to you, it's a huge party. Eventually, you will be able to hide it in any room of the house and she'll be able to find it.

I like toys that squeak because I can Woo-Hoo as soon as I *hear* that she found it even though I've remained in the room that I released her out of.

Pretty soon, you won't be able to hide it in any room of the house (or out in the yard) because she'll find it nearly instantly. You should see me digging up the leaves in my back yard, hiding my GSD's favorite orange cuz under pots, and he always finds within a couple of minutes. But we keep playing. It's one of our favorite games. At some point (when he was about a year old, probably), this game became more challenging for me. But we love it!

We also play hide and seek. But he finds us, literally, in seconds. The only place that he didn't find Dh within a few seconds was when Dh climbed on the roof of our house. Still, it's fun. And we all get our exercise running around our house. And our dogs use their brains. We will go into our woods (when we know no one will be around) and play hide and seek too. That's mentally stimulating as well.

I also trained my dog to play soccer. I gave him a soccer ball, which he almost instantly popped carrying it around. That's ok. I then rolled another in front of him. When he batted at it which his paws or with his muzzle (still carrying around the deflated ball in his mouth), I told him "Dribble!" and I kicked around the ball with him. If he dropped the deflated ball, I urged him to pick it back up (so he didn't try to pick up the "good" ball. The deflated ball filled his mouth so he wouldn't attack the new ball).

The more he pawed and kicked around the good ball, the more I kicked it back to him. Pretty soon, he figure out that this was a GAME, and it was interactive with ME (or Dh). Then he learned that he didn't need to bite the good ball (I substituted a smaller toy like a cuz or tennis ball for the popped ball after a while). Then he figured out that he could have fun dribbling the ball around by himself.

He still prefers a wicked competitive soccer match with Dh and me to pretty much anything (including food). But when he's bored, we have soccer balls outside and one in the house, and he'll pick up a Cuz and start dribbling his soccer ball around on his own. Now, our puppy is trying to figure out this whole soccer thing on her own as well.

Take obedience classes, or agility classes. Or just buy a DVD or book and work on training at home. I do 20-40 minutes of training with my kids EVERY day. I shout out commands and they do them as fast as possible. The one who does it the fastest gets the treat first. They get really competitive and move quickly. Since you only have one dog, you can do the same thing by stacking commands: "Sit, down, stand!" Then offer a treat. (I do this too.) Mix up the order. Sometimes treat after one command, sometimes after five. She never knows, so she'll listen attentively and move quickly. Her brain will be working like crazy.

Also, train tricks. Tricks are fun. You'll love them. You'll love showing them off. And you can add them to the rapid-fire sessions that I mentioned above. "Sit, down, rollover, sit, shake, speak!" Hooray! (My younger kids LOVE any rotation that ends with a big bark of SPEAK! )

The thing is, you don't have to play for hours. If you play with your dog in mentally challenging ways, that will tire her out MORE than just tossing a ball. She'll be more content and be more willing to chill around the house the rest of the time.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 03:53 PM
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Camper playing soccer yesterday (with his beat-up 2 year old soccer ball). Note the intensity in his eyes as he waits for my husband to make a move.

When we play soccer at the park or a campground, he's on a 15 foot flexi (just as a precaution).

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

She is chillin'.!!! Every day brings a different dog. (since I just got her 3 weeks ago). She is always watching me. this morning we varied the ball thing to a romp through 3' tall grass. All you could see we leaping and a tail waging sooo hard that it was almost knocking her off balance! The first 6-8 throws she came right back and dropped the ball at my feet without me saying anything. Then she became aloof and challenged the ball from me then later she layed in the grass and chewed the ball. I started throwing the ball hard against a tall abandoned building and she went nuts again, trying to get it on the bounce back. So now I know GSD need variety!! Anyway I will reread your post and see what I can adapt. (if she is having a hard time finding the ball in the tall grass, I find it interesting to see her expanding "grid pattern" of widening searching, expanding from where she thought the ball originally landed).
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 04:17 PM
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Variety! Yes! That's a big part of it! I'm sure others will add their ideas to this as well.

Rasa's pretty young, isn't she? We play frisbee a lot too, but if she's young, I wouldn't recommend that. If you can find her other healthy well behaved dogs to play with, that's always a great way to burn physical energy and use her brain as well.

And there are lots of toys that are interactive. The Buster Cube, the I-Cube, etc. Those keep the brain busy as well.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Yes 4 yrs young. One strange thing.. If I am with her and she hears my car start up (an employee is moving it) she goes nuts trying to get into it.
And an earlier post.... most other dog owners and the public give Rasa a very wide berth, (even when we are out in the middle of nowhere and no-one else around, dog owners give us a cool reception). ....you would think.....

Anyway I figured a job for Rasa . Get a back pack and have her deliver invoices and messages from the office to the warehouse.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 06:12 PM
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Quote:
Quote:Anyway I figured a job for Rasa . Get a back pack and have her deliver invoices and messages from the office to the warehouse.
THAT is great. How about teaching her to pick up things off the ground, open and close doors, turn on and off light switches, pick up the laundry, etc? Yes, your dog can learn all these things and even if you don't need the help, it's way fun. I'm working on teaching Renji the names of his toys so he can bring them to me by name. Here and there I've worked with him bringing me a sock I've dropped during laundry day. If I can get that down pat, that would be so helpful! You can even get some agility-style jumps to put around your yard and teach her to jump. Work on directing her over jumps with just your arm pointing out the directions. For many dogs, agility is an intense brain and body workout- the dog has to focus and concentrate on the handler as well as the course and the dog gets a whole lot of exercise! Plus, it is SUPER FUN, especially if you can add things like tunnels and chutes. It doesn't have to be fancy but you'd be surprised at what jumping over things and going through things can do for a dog.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 06:16 PM
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

I think Rasa has hip dysplasia so I wouldn't recommend agility. I think teaching her tasks is a great idea though. I would start clicker training with her or use marking because that makes it easier to teach tasks.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Aloha and thanks for all the tips. I am trying to get the most out of activities, both mine and hers to benefit us both. Since I am 58 yrs old I sometimes am too bz to exercise, so this is good, but I need to conserve and make quality time. I think "find it" will be a good one as even though I have 100 tennis balls from the tennis pro down the street, they are slowly diminishing in number.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 06:24 PM
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Re: Mental and Physical Exercises for Rasa

Good point, Ruth. I didn't know she had HD. There are other things you can do with fetching: teach her to back up before you throw the ball, teach her a directed retrieve so you can send her after a ball she didn't see drop down, have her hold a down while you toss the ball and wait for release, etc.

Renji - 6 y/o M GSD x chow rescue


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