Brain games for high energy anxious dog?

(10 Posts)
Elephantina Sat 22-Dec-18 13:46:12

My terrier is 11 years old and has an old spinal injury and nerve damage which limits the amount of physical exercise she can have. She also shouldn't play tug games because of her fragile discs. She is somewhat grumpy and aggressive (unsurprisingly) and mostly just wants to play rough games where she savages you on the ground and you submit. She's a bit deaf so all her games involve a cacophony of 100db barking.

She's on permanent pain and anxiety medication. She's a clever dog with great scent tracking abilities, but over-anxious and easily frustrated. We've tried various things and even deployed professional trainers over the years - she is very wary of anything new and is reluctant to try, then she simply walks away (especially if you try to target a prop, like a box or a mat). She stops engaging after only a few repetitions, so you can't really progress to the next step.

Any ideas? She's about half a kilo overweight (quite a lot for a 6 kg dog) so need to go easy on the treats....

OP’s posts: |
Elephantina Sat 22-Dec-18 14:16:52

Bump. She's just dismantled the Christmas tree and unwrapped one of my 81 year old mothers presents.

OP’s posts: |
Orangecushions Sat 22-Dec-18 14:25:30

My dog enjoys finding her ball after I have hidden it - I start off with obvious places and then make it incrementally harder. She isn't rewarded with a treat, having the ball is a reward in itself.

She was terrified of a toy that had food inside and made noises, but my other dog loved it.

madvixen Sat 22-Dec-18 14:27:06

My boys have a Buster Activity Mat and it's brilliant. We (currently) have 6 different activities for it and alter them round when they play it. Highly recommend it.

Whoseranium Sat 22-Dec-18 14:36:03

How are you currently feeding her? If she's just getting her food in a bowl then there's loads of scope for different methods of feeding which will be fun and interesting for her which you can tailor depending on what type of food she gets and what she enjoys.

As well as loads of different food dispensing toys and feeders there's also loads you can do with stuff you'll have lying around. Egg boxes, toilet/kitchen roll middles, cardboard boxes, all sorts of stuff can be repurposed for your dog before it goes in the recycling.

There's a couple of really good FB groups which are packed with brilliant ideas for this sort of thing: Canine Enrichment and Beyond The Bowl: Canine Enrichment.

Elephantina Sat 22-Dec-18 15:31:58

She's brilliant at find-the-toy, but it needs two of us - one to hold her while she screeches like a banshee, and the other to hide it. Ideally I need a game that she and I do just the two of us, so I can spend 20 minutes tiring her brain when I'm WFH to stop her pestering me because she's bored.

She also has no interest in treat toys either - tried them all, she gets what she can out then wanders off and leaves the rest to fester. I tried hiding treats in about 8 layers of tea towels, she blasted through the first couple of layers then got fed up and tried to get me to play her rough game.

Activity mat sounds interesting, I'll have a look for one - thanks!

She's only marginally motivated hy food, she's more interested in killing, biting and shaking than eating. She is fed on burns dry food in the morning and wet food in the evening, but if I put the dry food around the house she'd ignore it. Not sure I want to hide the wet food!

I'm a member of canine enrichment and fearful dogs on FB, but they make me feel inadequate! I'd try a snuffle mat but she'd get 5 mins out of it max.

I'd really like to teach her something, I tried shaping a handshake but she got so whimpery and anxious that I stopped.

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OrchidInTheSun Sat 22-Dec-18 15:35:25

Have you tried scent games with some really high value treats? I make liver treats for my dog which are very low in fat but very stinky. You can always reduce the amount of food you give her in her dinner to compensate.

Have a look at Karen Overall's relaxation protocol - it's about training your dog to settle but it does require quite a lot of concentration so is quite good for tiring them out


Elephantina Sat 22-Dec-18 19:48:49

Thanks Orchid, I'll give that a look.

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Squirrel26 Sat 22-Dec-18 20:07:21

My dog has a thing called a Licki Mat (I think) - it's soft textured rubber and you put wet food, or yoghurt or peanut butter on it and the dog licks it off. You can freeze it to make it last longer. I don't think it requires much mental effort but apparently licking is a calming activity (my anxious dog likes it - I though that he would just destroy it, but he hasn't.)

Santaisonthesherry Sat 22-Dec-18 20:09:10

Probably not suitable for your ddog but wanted to share - my dd's have taught our Lurchers to play hide and seek in our large house!!

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