Want mentally straining activities for my puppy.

Buster will be 15 weeks on Friday. As with all Boxers, he’s constantly jumping up and down, wanting and expecting new challenges. I’ve done all the old tricks - tying a piece of ham into an old towel, putting candy in an empty roll of TP. We have a small session every day, where we practise tracking. And every day we have a 15 minute session where we practise stuff like heel, roll over ASF. All the standard stuff.

But when there’s no other dog to play with, I’ve walked him the maximum for his age, done the standard exercises, there is still time left when he wants to have fun and do stuff. I could end up in the poor house buying toys for him, so I’m seeking advice from fellow dopers.

Buster wants to work and play. I know he’s happy with new challenges, and problems to figure out. Anyone know of some good stuff, not involving a lot of money. Anyone with links to good pages?

We had a Boston Bull Terrier when I was a kid. They love to chew when they’re little. Rawhide chewies in old socks saved my mom’s couch. For additional entertainment, we would sometimes put the “chewie sock” inside yet another old sock. They’d last for half an hour at best. Fortunately, old socks are free and the rawhide chewies are pretty cheap. You can buy bags of them at any pet store, as well as places like Target. I’ve seen them at dollar stores occasionally too.

You have to watch the puppy when he/she chews on the socks, though, to make sure they don’t eat the threads.

Crossward Puzzles should strain his mind. (Assuming he doesn’t simply eat them.)

Sounds like you’re already doing a lot with Buster.

For SOLO activities that don’t require your input: Toy-wise, you can get him a BusterCube - they are fun and keep a dog busy for quite a while. Another fun toy is the IQube, which involves getting balls out of a soft toy AND learning to put them back in. Also “challenging” for a pup is the good old Kong-with-food-stuffed-in-it trick. Stuff it with wet dog food, and freeze it. This will keep pup occupied for hours.

For TEAM activities that do require your input: Try puppy puzzles. Hide and seek bits of kibble. Teach basic scent discrimination using capped PVC tubes (with holes along the side) and kibble. Work on useless tricks, using operant conditionning only (that will keep you both busy a while :smiley: ). Teach targetting (start with the touch command) by operant conditionning, with a mouse pad, and teach the down-on recall using the targetting trick… email me at sitstaydogs at rogers dot com… I can keep you entertained with these suggestions for quite a while. We play them a lot with service puppies.

Basic obedience and tracking will somewhat poop out the pup. I find, however, that half an hour of operant-conditionning based training (clicker training), where the dog has to figure things out himself (it’s called “shaping behaviors”) poops them out for HOURS on end.

Also - look into offleash dog parks in your area. Socialization through play is SO important, and really REALLY beneficial for your pup. Plus, an hour there and he’ll sleep for the rest of the day…

You could try making a lure pole for him:


I have one I made using a 6-foot lunge whip (handle and lash are 6 feet each). From there you just tie a favorite toy, Kong with food, etc. to it, go in the back yard, and puppy jumps and runs and has a ton of fun. A lunge whip is only $10-$20 (available online or at feed 'n tack stores) and you can use Kongs or toys you already have.

I second the BusterCube.

I second Elen when she said:

In addition to this, my wife and I used classic conditioning as well, with no clicker. Grissholm a year + Rhodesian Ridgeback was trained extensively by my wife and I during his first 6 months. We are both psychologists and used classic conditioning and target training to train our very energetic pup.

He’s conditioned not to go in the kitchen, or the dining room, as well as not to beg or jump. A treat bag during the first six months with a treat for every good behaviour is essential. Plenty of tough puppy toys are essential as well. With our rhodesian we found out early that this breed gets bored fast, so to combat this we started extra early with the conditioning. Finding a long run or walk would tire him out quickly, and prompt training upon waking worked better than marathon training all day.

***I can not stress enough how good trainging and obediance is for a pooch. As much training early on as you can manage will be very helpful. My wife and I both had three solid weeks off from work, [I teach at a college and my wife works for a publishing house] and we trained, trained, trained.

Now Griss heels without leesh, comes when called, never ever barks (that has to do with the breed too), never jumps on people when they walk in…Usually we have to bring guests to see him instead of them being greeted at the door by a jumping pooch.

He is ok around other dogs, and tolerates our two cats… We live off the beaten path so he’s got plenty of room to run…

Good luck… and train, train, train…

I am SO making that for my aussie!

Just one note of caution though - with a large breed especially, I would avoid encouraging JUMPING over things (or for a frisbee, etc) until the pup is at least one year old. Before then, it causes a lot of stress on their growing joints and can lead to problems later on in life. This is also why agility classes have “puppy classes” that do not involve jumping but introduce the pups to the other obstacles (and those bloody weave poles)…

So - keep puppy from jumping excessively, but the lure pole could be a LOT of fun to get puppy CHASING. :slight_smile:

Maybe I need to add some info. I’ve owned a dog before.

Buster does have some of these toys, others might not be available in Sweden, but toys is not really the problem. As for training, I go by the principle: Don’t punish bad behaviour, encourage good beahviour. It works well, and we’re making progress with sit, comming when called, laying down on command ASF. I walk him without a leash, most of the time, and he follows me very well. I couldn’t put up a lure pole on the backyard, 'cause I don’t have a backyard. I’ve made other stuff like it, though.

But a boxer is a very special breed, which I was fully aware of, when I bought him. Stubborn, very intelligent working dogs, like to learn and do it easily, but they also get bored quickly. It’s not a question of encouraging him to jump, because he does that on his own. It’s ahem interesting to have him bouncing up and down by the kitchen table while I eat. He does this fourlegged jump, where is actually bouncing in one spot.

Lots of other dogs where we live, so he gets to met all kind of breed and from diferent ages. But I know he wants new challanges. He learns stuff so damned quickly, that after the first two or three times, when he’s figured out how the trick is done, it’s not fun anymore. I’ve done the sock thing, and stuffed som old news paper sheets in it to, to make it even more exciting. Well, not anymore. Even with a treat, he just demolishes the thing in less than five minutes, eats the treat and wants another thing to do.

It’s just that I know he’d enjoy more puzzles like that, by my imagination is running dry, trying to figure out new ways to challange him and his wit.

I’m unemployed now, so I have all the time in the world to train, and we’re doing that.

Thanks for the help so far, guys.

About the obedience training–I’d definitely suggest looking into operant conditioning methods, particularlyBridge and Target training. This will help you teach him incredibly complex behaviors in such a way as to allow the dog to understand what’s wanted in a way that classical training does not. This is very similar to clicker training, but doesn’t require the dog to offer behaviors the way that clicker training does. The ideas are almost the same, but bridge and target just adds an extra element of communication. It’s mental excercise, as well as physical.


You don’t need a link. All you need are two words.
“Boomer ball” Well, that and a fenced yard, or large grassy area.

Ah heck, here’s a link, just to be on the safe side.

I have an aussie, well two now, I just bought a puppy.

These are a must have.


Oh, I second these sentiments.

I have GOT to get one of these (with two aussies now).

Thanks for the link!!