After many months of medical procedures and recovery, Joanie is getting her spunk back as she continues to feel better every day. While walks are great to tire her out, she can only handle so much physical activity – so she needs another outlet for her energy. From the three days I’ve had her, I’ve found that Joanie really benefits from using her nose to exercise her brain and wear her out (like all dogs!).
The easiest and most fun way for us to do some informal nose work is playing “Find it!” in the backyard. Using string cheese, I throw little pieces all over the yard and send her sniffing after them. I try to put them in a pattern so that she can find her way to the next one (she’s got a good sniffer, but it’s not that good if the treat is too far away). Because she has to root through the grass a bit, it’s not a super easy find and usually takes some effort – which is great since I want her to work those brain muscles!
We even tried a few times where I was up on the deck and she was down in the yard. The string cheese is bright white so she can see sort of where I throw it, and the rest is up to her nose. This also helps to get her down the stairs to the yard without me taking her down there. She’s not really needy, but she doesn’t particularly care to venture down on her own – which is sort of inconvenient when you’re a lazy FosterMom!
“Find it!” is a great game. Ten or fifteen minutes of this is equally as tiring as probably a thirty minute walk. The thing about physical exercise versus mental is that when we’re done with a walk, Joanie’s brain is still ready to go. She still wants to sniff and investigate everything. But after a walk and some nose work, she’s out for the count.
It’s been fun learning what helps Joanie relax around us and what she needs to keep her happy. Watching a dog settle down right before your eyes is really rewarding, especially when you’re not sure they’re going to get there initially (more about that later). Joanie is just another perfect example of how enrichment can be helpful for any dog!