Many good puppy owners compare welcoming a new pup to bringing home a baby! They come with a lot of needs and demands…but no step-by-step manual. You may find yourself staring at your new bundle of fluff wondering what on earth to do with it? What do puppies even like to do all day?
We have previously written how to give new owners a sample daily schedule for a new pup. We aim to make this post more about creative ways to just relax and have fun during the day!
As further described in the aforementioned article, much of your day will include your puppy napping, scheduled potty breaks, and training exercises.
What do you do with your pup during his allotted play time?
Dogs are incredibly social creature and puppies in particular are actively working on social skills and are looking to other pack members (older dogs and confident humans) for guidance at this age.
The vast majority of puppies, particularly doodles (who tend to be extraordinarily people-oriented like their poodle parents), will prefer interacting with you to any other activity. You could surround your puppy in a room full of new and exciting toys, and he will still be at your feet nibbling your shoelaces.
If given the choice, your puppy would probably spend all day eating your shoelaces and biting your hands. But this is not necessarily fun for the human! Below are a few activities that typically both puppies and humans find enjoyable to do, and also help build important skills along the way.
1. Hiding Treats for Them
If you have ever paid any attention to dogs you will be well-aware that they seem to naturally gravitate toward searching with their noses. The dog’s ability to find things with their noses has long been of huge value for humans from bomb-sniffing dogs to search and rescue canines. But it can be lots of fun for the dog, too!
For starters, place your puppy in his crate in a separate room and spend a minute hiding treats in various places- under blankets, in the corner of the room, under an overturned cup, etc. Then release your dog and excitedly give him a “find it” command. You will likely have to show him the first treat or two before he gets the hang of it. If you keep your energy and tone fun and excited, your pup will likely catch on fast with a wagging tail.
2. Hide and Seek
You don’t have to stop at treats. You can really teach your dog to find just about anything, but another fun and simple game is hide and go seek with humans! The easiest way to get your dog to transition from, finding treats to finding one of his family members is to have the family member hide with a treat!
Keep up your same level of excitement and reward the pup with the treat when he finds the family member. Soon, your pup will be finding his human on command no matter how well he/she hides. We especially recommend playing this game with your doodle if you have young children. Not only do children find this game extra fun, but it can actually be valuable training. Should one of your children ever become lost, your pup will actually be able to help.
3. Think Fast
Another thing to do with your puppy during the day that facilitates fun and bonding is a game we like to call Think Fast. Its part game and part training exercise. The first part of the game involves working your dog into a playful frenzy, which if you’ve ever had a puppy before, you’ll know this usually isn’t very difficult. So grab a toy or two and play tug-of-war or jump up and down. Act all kinds of crazy and excited and then suddenly regain composure and tell your pup to “sit” or some other command that he knows well. Reward with a treat and then go back to wild play.
Obviously this game tends to be better played with an older puppy of at least 10-12 weeks of age because they must first have mastery of a command as well as the developmental maturity to stop playing on a dime. So while there is a bit of a learning curve for this game, it teaches a valuable lesson. The more you play this game with your puppy, the more he will develop a strong sense of self control and focus which can be critical in a variety of situations.
Imagine that you were playing a game of fetch outdoors with your pup when suddenly the ball takes an awkward bounce and changes trajectory towards the to the road. Your dog’s ability to go from play mode to obedience mode may save his life. Make sure you play several rounds of this game so that your pup understands that the fun continues even after he settles down for a command.
Other fun ways to keep your dog entertained during the day include puzzle toys. This is a version of the first game with hiding treats however the toys do the work for you! Bubbles can be another fun activity for your pup. Many pups are naturally attracted to trying to catch the bubbles, and it can be a fun game that releases lots of energy. If your dog does not seem to get the hang of it, you can try flavored bubbles for added incentive!
It also worth mentioning a few tricks for times when you are not able to be fully engaged with your puppy. We strongly recommend crate training for times when your pup is ready to nap or you need a break. Using puzzle toys and long lasting chews can help your pup enjoy crate time. If you need to get something done around the house like cooking or a phone call, you can always just keep your pup nearby on a leash!
Use the tips above to fill your day & your puppy's with fun stuff to do
If you need to get something done such as cooking or making a phone call, you can attach your pup’s leash to your wrist or belt loop with a pile of toys nearby. Your pup remains close to you and available for quick interactions, but he can also play with his toys without straying out of your eyesight.
In conclusion, while walks/exercise, and structured training sessions certainly have their place in a puppy’s day, good old fashioned play is a big key to bonding with a new puppy. Reach out and let us know of any fun or creative games you have played with your doodle pup! Jenna and the JLDD Team