Once your new Goldendoodle arrives home, it’s important to participate in their daily life. Just like a child, your dog needs frequent interaction, exercise, and entertainment to keep them happy and continue their development. This also helps to prevent any behavioral problems that typically occur when your dog is bored or lacking stimulation.
For a new puppy owner, you might be looking for ideas on how to accomplish this. So we’ve put together this list to help! This list will likely grow over time and isn’t exhaustive by any means. Our hope is that it gets you thinking about how you can make your new puppy’s life more enjoyable in their new home. We are avoiding the obvious activities on this list, such as playing fetch and taking a walk around the neighborhood.
These activities are intended to be supervised activities. While there are many things you can and should allow your Goldendoodle to do on their own, these activities are centered around furthering your relationship with your dog as well as continuing their development.
Playing nose games and “hide the treat”
Most dog owners look at treats as a reward for doing another activity, and sometimes treats are nothing more than a ‘just because’ reward. But why not make their treats into a reward for finding the treat itself? Dogs are natural hunters and love to use their nose, so doing so constructively will help them stay sharp and enjoy both the reward and the process of acquiring it at the same time.
There are many ways you can go about this. The easiest way is to purchase dog toys that are built to hide treats inside, or to make it a challenge for your dog to get the treat out. Kong toys and others are common and can sometimes keep your dog busy for lengthy periods of time. But there are many other ways that you will likely find more rewarding.
You might try a variation of the old parlor game, three card monte. Place three similar containers, such as a small box or an upside down cup, in front of your dog. Place a treat under one of them and then proceed to mix them up until you are sure your dog has lost track of the treat. Place the containers a couple of feet apart and see if your dog can guess which one contains the treat. If they don’t get it right, don’t give them the treat yet! Show them the treat and start over until they are able to guess. Chances are, their nose will get it right sooner than later and you an reward them for their instinct.
You can also try simply hiding a treat somewhere in the room while your dog watches. But to trip them up, pretend to put the treat in multiple locations, while only leaving it in one location. Have your dog sit and wait while they watch, and when you are ready, give them a verbal command (such as “find”, or something else you can consistently use). Let them explore each location until they find the hidden treat, and then reveal the treat for them to enjoy when they are correct.
These ideas aren’t meant to be a difficult challenge for your pup. In fact, their well-trained nose will probably not be easily fooled. The goal here is to keep them sharp and give them a constructive way to use their natural abilities. Be creative and have fun with it.
Visit the pet store
If you have children, you know how much joy they can get when you take a special trip to a store built just for them, the toy store. Your dog is no different! A pet store is a fantastic mini-adventure for your pup, and they will enjoy taking in all the pet-centric sights, sounds and smells.
The pet store also gives you an opportunity to provide socialization for your puppy, both with other humans and other pets. And these interactions will also keep them comfortable with strangers, and most of these strangers are already dog-friendly.
In addition, it is a great opportunity for your puppy to practice their self-control. There are plenty of distractions in the pet store, from other animals to treats and toys, and it can be easy for them to get excited and veer off-task. So use this opportunity to use your ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ commands. Be sure to take a familiar training treat with you to the pet store so you can reward their behavior as well.
Playing Dog Frisbee
While this is really a natural extension for playing ‘fetch’, we’re including it here because many owners tend to stick with tennis balls and normal dog toys. The problem with many toys and balls is that they don’t make good candidates for improving your dog’s coordination. Throwing a toy and allowing your dog to fetch it might be fun, but when it comes to improving coordination, it usually does nothing more than running.
Using a frisbee is unique in that the nature of the frisbee is that it slows down as it nears the ground (when thrown correctly, of course). This makes the frisbee a great candidate for a toy that can be caught in mid-air. It also allows your dog to keep a visual on the frisbee as they attempt to intercept it.
These factors make the frisbee a very good fetch toy that also challenges your dog to do more than just running and retrieving.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should purchase a frisbee that is made for dogs. The plastic used in normal frisbees can sometimes be too hard or brittle, and can cause damage to the dog’s teeth, and many frisbees will tend to shatter in the mouth of a dog. This can lead to unwanted and dangerous cuts in your dog’s mouth. You also want to avoid using the type of frisbees designed for disc golfing as they are often heavier and can hurt your dog during retrieval. So be sure to find a disc designed for dogs and you’ll both be happier in the end!
Take your dog out on the water
This one can be accomplished in many different ways. But one thing is for sure; most dogs love the water. At Euro GoldenDoodles, we expose all our puppies to large and small bodies of water during their training, and they should be plenty comfortable with the water. However, it is imperative that you supervise them closely at all times if they decide to get into the water itself, to be sure they are having a great time and not struggling.
If you have a swimming pool, encourage your puppy to be a part of your pool parties. Even if they don’t wish to be in the water, they may enjoy chasing water from water guns, which can also entertain the human counterparts of your party! One thing to keep in mind is that it isn’t a good idea for your dog to swallow a large amount of pool water. Due to the chemicals typically found in the pool, your dog may have very loose stool in the hours following their pool adventure if they swallow a lot of water. So try to keep it to playing, and keep a bowl of fresh water nearby for them to drink.
Your dog may also enjoy going out on a boat if you have access to one. A canoe is another great choice, and allows them to be much closer to the water itself. If you do allow your dog to jump into the water, it is ideal if the water is more shallow. While they might be able to swim, they may get overwhelmed with larger and deeper bodies of water. But every dog will be different.
You can also take them along on a fishing expedition, either on a boat or on the shore. Letting them splash around in the water on the shore will be great fun. Be careful if you decide to help you bring in your fish though, as you don’t want them to be hooked by the fish hook. But they will enjoy watching over your catch once it is on shore!
Take a hike
Hiking is an activity that can fulfill both you and your dog’s need for exercise.
It’s important to plan ahead when taking your dog on a more intense hike. Make sure to pack a portable dog bowl of some kind, along with a sufficient supply of water. Dogs can get dehydrated just as you can, and water will provide the necessary hydration and refreshment, particularly on longer hikes. You also want to be sure to take a sufficient supply of waste baggies and somewhere to store them so you aren’t leaving your dog’s waste on a trail where others will be walking.
Next, be sure that wherever you are hiking, pets are allowed. Ask around on social media for good pet-friendly locations. You can also check out https://hikewithyourdog.com/ for dog-friendly hiking locations in your state.
Finally, be sure your puppy is physically prepared for the hike. It’s not a good idea to take them for their first hike on a strenuous path that will push their physical boundaries. Start them off easy, and never assume they can do more than you. This is extremely important because you wouldn’t want your dog to suffer injury or not be able to complete your hike. So take it easy at first.
Teach your dog new words and locations
This might not seem exciting, but once you have accomplished your goal, you will find it very enjoyable for both you and your pup.
The idea here is to teach your dog the names of different items around the house. Start with naming their toys. You can either choose to be generic by referring to all balls as “ball”, or you can add complexity by teaching different colors or sizes. Simply show them the item and recite the name of the item, and nothing else. Try not to use too many words here outside of their own name and other words they are already trained to understand. Refer to the item, recite the name, and repeat.
Eventually, you can expand this beyond just toys. You can help them associate their dog bowl or various locations around your house. Or how about their leash?
If you have locations you want your dog to go to on command, try placing a piece of colored tape in that place at the level of your dog’s nose. So if you want them to learn the words “back door”, put a piece of tape on the back door where they can reach it with their nose. The tape will help your dog to focus and give them an easy visual cue. When you are training them, always point to that piece of tape and try to get them to touch it with their nose and follow up with a “sit” command. Eventually, when you say the words “back door”, your dog will associate that location with the words, and they will go there and sit to await further commands.
If you wish to expand this further, try having a central location for their toys, and train them with the word “clean”. Recite the toy name (once they are already comfortable with it), and the word “clean”, and guide them to place the toy in the central location.
The sky is the limit here, but ultimately, this is a great way to increase interactivity and to allow your dog to feel like your home is also theirs to enjoy.
Create an obstacle course for your dog
This one may involve a little more work but is well worth the time you will spend setting it up. You’ve seen the videos on Youtube of dog shows where the dog jumps and crawls through an obstacle course. You can do this in your home or yard as well!
This doesn’t have to be complex. You can do things as simple as placing a garden hose for your dog to jump over, or setting up a series of ropes for them to crawl under. If you have some handyman in you, you can construct more permanent structures for your dog to climb or crawl through.
PVC pipe is great for building course obstacles for very little money. You can get ideas online for how to create different obstacles, such as the ones found here: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-build-pet-agility-course
Be sure that any obstacles you set up are safe for your dog to traverse. Avoid items with sharp edges or crevices where their paws can get caught. This is meant to be fun and physically stimulating, but shouldn’t be strenuous or dangerous in any way.
If you want to get a quick start and don’t mind spending a few bucks, many pet stores and online retailers carry small obstacle course items. These are usually referred to as an “agility kit” or “agility equipment”. The keyword here is “agility”, so use that in your searches.
Some things to keep in mind
This list is definitely not intended to be exhaustive. Instead, we wanted to provide some ideas on how to go beyond the typical daily dog activities. But we encourage new puppy owners to be creative and include your dog in more parts of your life. Keep in mind that dogs can become bored and lazy in their training if they don’t feel challenged. Just as humans do things like reading or listening to music or camping, dogs need to be challenged as well.
We plan to add additional activities to this list over time. If you are in need of additional ideas, please feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to help you find new ways to keep your dog busy, both indoors and outdoors. If you have any concerns about an activity you are thinking about including your dog in, we are also happy to provide advice.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is to watch your dog and participate with them. Make sure they are safe at all times and know when they have hit their comfortable limit. Your dog will not always know when they are nearing their own limits, particularly when they are a younger puppy. So it is your responsibility to know when an activity is too much or not enjoyable for your dog.
Have fun, and be sure to check back on this page often for more great ideas!