Archive for positive dog play

Playing in the Snow

Posted in Dog diary, life with a working dog, pets with tags , , , , on February 13, 2014 by rattlerjen

Snow brings out my inner child

It snowed about 14 inches here at home in Northern Virginia.  I have two dogs and a hill in my back yard.  This of course calls for the implementation of a bad idea. Deja vu!

My dogs needed exercise

Molniya has a special pulling harness she has been taught to pull on and a bungee leash. She had tons of fun running down the hill. I had so much fun, this will likely be repeated again tomorrow morning!


How to Make A Dog Food Puzzle Toy

Posted in dog, dog training, howto, pets with tags , , on May 23, 2013 by rattlerjen

It’s easy and takes less than 10 minutes!


Pvc toy materials

  • Drill
  • 1/2 inch drill bit
  • 3″ Diameter PVC cut down to 18″ long
  • Two PVC 3″ end caps
  • small piece of wood at least 19″ long


1. Put the end caps on either end of the PVC pipe.

pvc endcaps dog toy

2. Drill a hole several inches away from the edge of the end cap.

drill hole pvc dog toy

3. Rotate the PVC a 1/4 turn.  Drill another hole 4-5 inches away from the first hole.

drill hole pvc dog toy

4. Repeat step 3 two more times to drill a total of four holes in the PVC.


5. Take the end caps off. Place the edge of the piece of wood along side the PVC pipe and under the edge of the end cap. While holding the wood and PVC together, tap the end of the wood on the floor. The lid should pop right off.  Repeat on for the other end.

6. Run a towel through the PVC several times to get the plastic shavings out.

towel through dog toy

7. Put one end cap on.

8. Fill with a few cups of dry kibble.

9. Give to dog.

10. Sit back and enjoy the entertainment.

Teaching a dog to search for his toys

Posted in dog training, howto, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by rattlerjen

Hunt drive

Search and rescue dogs have a skill known as hunt drive. This is the desire to search for something they have not seen run away.

It’s different from Prey or pursuit drive which is chasing or searching something a dog has seen run away.

To teach our search dog the rewards of finding something, we hid his toys.  Then, played with him using the toy he had found.  All you need to do is find a toy your dog really loves to play with.

  •  Start out easy and let him watch you hide it the first time.
  • After that, shut him out of the room and hide it in the same place. Immediately let him back in to find it.
  • Repeat this, but hide the toy near the last hiding place. Let a piece of the toy stick out from the hiding place to make it easy.
  • Gradually make the game harder, moving the toy from ground or nose level up high or in containers.

Remember, always make the game fun.  Play with him once he makes the find and throw a big party.

Night Light Magic

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2011 by rattlerjen

Our dogs are trained to search day and night.

Grom especially loves to work at night.

The camera was set up on a tripod on a night with a full moon. The shots were taken with a 13 second exposure on each.

Grom was left inside the house where he could not see outside.  My husband tossed his toy far out in the yard into some bushes.  Much of our yard looks like a forest.

We put his very awesome disco Nite Ize light on his collar, the same one we light his vest up with.  I love how it changes colors, making a lovely rainbow light trail

Off he goes!  The bright spot near the beginning is where he pauses for his command to find it.

Looping around.  Getting close to the toy.  His nose tells him it is around there somewhere!

And back.  With a really good shake of the toy at the end.

Off to the Malinois races

Posted in Dog diary, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on January 10, 2011 by rattlerjen

Hey, my dog might be smaller than your labrador or shepherd, but he is fast!

Do you remember Freyja?  She was the tiny yet adorable Belgian Malinois puppy brought over to our house several months back.
Belgian Malinois puppy
It turns out that puppies turn into dogs.  In typical Malinois fashion, she turned out to be a speed demon of a dog.
Or so her owners claim.
This little girl reportedly runs circles around the other dogs at the dog park.  Now, Grom has never met a dog that can keep up with him.  Could this puppy have grown to be his match?
A date was set and the course was layed out.  Mal vs Mal.  Could this Frejya, Viking Goddess dog outrun our dog of Thunder?
Here, are the results.

Old dog teaches owner new tricks

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by rattlerjen

How to stop a dog from playing keep away.

We have a 9 year old German Shepherd retired from Customs work due to health issues.  The wonderful thing is that she is very good with the puppy.  Even better, she does not play with him for long so the puppy has energy for training.  The best part of all is that she has already been trained to search for things.  She has been doing a wonderful job at being our guinea pig for some of our training with the puppy.  When she does not respond to something during a training session, it is usually because we messed up!shepherd with ball

Just recently she solved a problem with our puppy.  Grom always likes to parade around after winning his toy playing keep away.  Agitation training with him has helped much in getting him to run full speed at us when we have the toys, but he just doesn’t seem to understand that the play would continue if he would just bring the darn toy back.  He wouldn’t even come back for the identical toy we would produce.  No matter how much we jumped around and acted like idiots, the puppy would ignore us.  My husband and I would even play tug with each other trying to get the puppy to come over.  No go.

So how does an old dog teach its owner new tricks?  Aaron got the idea from playing fetch with Heidi.  When she returned with the ball, she wouldn’t drop it right away unless you asked her.  Many times she would literally bonk her head into you with the retrieved ball in her mouth.  If you try and take it out of her mouth, she would tug.  Is she playing keep away?  Couldn’t be that.  Heidi hates playing keep away.  She would immediately come back to you anyway if you let go of the tennis ball while she was tugging on it.  AH HA!  She brings the ball back to play tug with you!

The solution was a very specific game of two tugs or two balls.

Check out how my husband plays with the puppy now.  Only after a few times with this new play, the dog no longer plays keep away!   Belgian Malinois are very fast, so many times you might see the puppy get the toy before he was supposed to.  The key is to play tug with the toy he has in his mouth when he comes back to you.  You use the other toy to lure him near you.  If he drops the one he has before he gets to you, simply throw the toy YOU have.

Snowy Back Chaining Indication

Posted in dog training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by rattlerjen

Worked on back-chaining indication.  An indication is something the dog does to tell the handler he has found a missing person (subject.)  We are attempting to train Grom with a bark indication.  We have practiced asking him to bark on command in all sorts of situations.  Now it is time to put a few more pieces together.

Here’s how it goes:

  1. Subject holds dog
  2. Handler calls the bark command “Preach” – Dog is supposed to run to the handler and bark
  3. Handler asks for the show me where the subject is command. “Save.”
  4. Subject gets dogs attention with toys and noises – dog runs towards the subject
  5. Handler follows dog back to subject who plays with the dog.

Here is a video of us practicing this with our German Shepherd.  She is a bit old and a slow poke these days, but you get the idea:)

Grom did well, but on the second try (which was near perfect) he ran away with the toy playing keep away.  Can’t have this!  He is supposed to win the toy and then be put back in his crate.  Really hard to do that when he is running away from you, Doh!  My husband and I played with the second identical toy trying to lure the puppy back.  I started to sprint around the yard with the toy and I grabbed him when he was hot on my heels.  Whew!

I played tug with him while holding on to his collar with my other hand.  I am such a dummyhead to forget his leash!

I am going to look into playing the game two hoses aka two balls or two tugs with him.  I am not sure if this would conflict with his drive play and agitation, but I have an idea it will help solve his keep away problem.  Will look into that.

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