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DAY 1 There are a lot of simple things that you can do to keep your dogs mentally and physically active during the current period of social distancing and isolation.

CHEAP AND CHEERFUL Over the next week we're going to show you cheap, effective ways of keeping your dogs' minds and bodies engaged in ways that will help them learn to love being calm.

FUN AND FREE! None of it needs to cost money! We're going to show you how to be inventive with household items so that you can keep your dog entertained without them gaining weight and without them ending-up being "switched on" and wanting constant input from you if you're at home with them for prolonged periods.

NOSING ABOUT The first step is to teach your dog to love using her nose. A dog's nose is probably her most important sensory organ. She uses it as her main way of navigating the world, sniffing her way through her day by exploring and interpreting countless numbers of scents.

A SNIFFY DOG IS A CALMER DOG Recent research has shown that dogs' pulse rates slow considerably when they sniff - which is why dogs who are able to sniff on their walks tend to be calmer than those who are hurried along and not allowed to get their noses down.

SCATTER FEEDING FUN Mealtimes are a great way to teach a dog to get her nose working: if you have one dog you can scatter all or part of her meal across the garden (or the garage or kitchen floor if it's wet).

In fact, it would be good for her if you can feed most of her meals by "scatter feeding" them over the coming weeks, rather than feeding her in her bowl.

MULTI-DOG FAMILIES CAN DO IT TOO! If you have several dogs, you can scatter feed in different rooms plus the garden, rotating each dog and room for every meal so that they get a different sensory experience each time.

If you have dogs who food-guard, throw them their scatters inside only and make sure that you have cleared every single bit of left-over food once they've finished, before you let the other dogs back into any shared space. Alternatively, you can collect cardboard boxes and cut the down into trays, as well as saving margarine tubs and yogurt pots. Share her food ration between these receptacles and place them around the room. It's not quite such a good nose workout, but it's a start and safety is the most important thing with food-guarders.

AND IT WORKS FOR RAW-FED DOGS f you raw-feed your dog/s, you can feed as normal, then cut cooked chicken, beef or lamb into tiny pieces and throw them about as "scatters" at a time when you would usually walk your dog. Reduce her usual daily quota of food by the weight of your scatters so that she doesn't gain weight.

Our raw-fed dogs get their scatters every day. We've done it for years as a bit of nose and brain work and, as you can see from the video, it's a lovely thing for them to do together - but we wouldn't do this if any of them had food-guarding or food-fear issues.

TRAINING TIPS It's a good idea to keep some of your dog's meals to one side for training exercises - more on that later in the week. Because part of this programme is about keeping your dogs' bodies and brains stimulated and the other part is about deepening their relationship with you over the coming weeks.

GOING UP A LEVEL If you want to stretch your dog's sniffability a little bit more, put some of the food into the inside of a toilet-roll and leave it out in plain sight so that she can find it easily. As the week goes on, you can start hiding the toilet rolls so that it's a bit more challenging. Take each new level slowly- some dogs happily forage for toilet rolls very quickly but others take a while to get it.

If she ingests a bit of the cardboard, don't worry: it's just made from cellulose (the outer wall of plants) so it won't harm her.

FOOD GUARDERS If you have food-guarders who guard against other pets, make sure you check that all toilet rolls and food have been picked-up after this sniff activity, and if you have any dogs who food-guard against people, avoid scatter-feeding entirely. Instead, please get in touch for details of our virtual Online Thinking-Dog Programme for support with guarding.


Teaching your dogs to love this sniff activity will teach them to enjoy being calm. Calm dogs are content dogs, so if you find that your dog is sleeping more than usual, that's a good thing. Healthy happy dogs should sleep, on average, 17 hours a day. Enjoy the calm you get after the #Scatters and watch this space for Day 2 of our #ThinkingDog7DayIsolationProgramme


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