Enrichment for your dog

A dog left in an enclosed backyard with nothing to do is equivalent to you being locked in a small room all day. Prolonged periods of boredom may lead to destructive and sometimes obsessive or repetitive undesirable behaviour such as pacing and tail chasing.

To keep your dog amused and physically and mentally happy – implement some enrichment. Ensure that the enrichment that you provide your dog is safe.

There are several types of enrichment – some of which are listed below with examples of each.

Environmental enrichment

  • Buy two kids swimming pool /sandpit bases. Fill one with sand/dirt and every day bury toys, bones or treats in it. The second one should be filled with some water – somewhere for the dog to submerge and cool off.
  • Place a small amount of water in an empty, large ice cream container. While your dog is watching, hold a treat between your thumb and forefinger and hold at the surface of the water. Give this to your dog. As your dog becomes more used to getting treats from the water, submerge your hand and the treats more and more, until the dog is submerging its nose and possibly face in order to get the treats of its own accord. This will keep your dog amused for hours!
  • Provide your dog with shade, covered and sunny areas as well as areas of differing textures and height.
  • Take your dog to several different places – beach , markets, river, for coffee.
  • Hang an old knotted tyre tube or a squeaky toy from a tree – at a height level with your dogs head.

Dietary enrichment

  • Throw a handful of kibbles, diced apple or pear randomly around the back yard. The dog will spend time hunting for these.
  • After you cook a roast or have a tray of meat, juices or blood collect in the tray. Use this fluid to lay a trail around the back yard or in summer make your dog bloodcicles by placing blood in a container and freezing it.
  • Place some treats in an empty milk carton or un lidded bottle and watch your dog manouvering the container in order to get the treats. This should only be done while you are watching.
  • Give your dog a nice meaty (always raw) bone. You should ask your vets opinion on this one, as some do not agree with giving your dog bones.
  • Provide your dog with a kong type toy. Food is placed in these toys which makes the dog work and use its skills to get the food. Pet shops are now selling hard plastic kongs that are indestructible. The lid screws off the top of these kongs revealing a lipped, sand weighted base which you fill with dry food. The food will come out of a hole on the side of the lid.

Behavioural enrichment

  • If your dog is destructive – try giving it a coconut – either whole or split in half (leave the flesh in it).
  • Teach your dog some ‘tricks’ (complex skills) or get a trainer to.
  • Invite a friend who has a dog too, to come and visit so that the dogs can play together.
  • Play hide and seek with your dog.
  • Provide your dog with a toy from each of the following groups – a squeaking toy, a tug toy, a fetch toy, a chew toy and a toy that makes the dog use its brain.
  • Give your dog a large cardboard box to tear up – what fun and all ready to go in the bin!
  • Play with your dog and vary the games. Don’t just play the same game all the time – this = BORING!!! and can also result in the dog obsessing over the toy.
  • While you are supervising – place your dogs favourite toy under a clothes basket or similar (something that your dog can see through). Your dog will have to use its intelligence to get to the toy.
  • Let your dog smell one of its toys .Make your dog sit in one spot – place the toy in the dogs view and give command – “find”. The dog has to get the toy – you may have to help at first. Place the toy in a more hidden place each time .When your dog finds the toy reward your dog – voice or pat.
  • Show your dog a treat or a small toy. Place the object in your hand a make a fist. Do the same with your ‘empty’ hand. The dog has to indicate which hand the object is in .When correct – it gets to play with or eat it.
  • Make a SAFE obstacle course for your dog and teach your dog how to use it.


Posted in Trainer's Thoughts

Puppy School

The proof of a good puppy school is reputation. Kyra, the principal trainer of Bright Bessy Dog Training is the pup school facilitator/or recommended dog trainer for six vets in the Coffs Coast area.

Enrolling your dog in a reputable, professional puppy school is the best start to life you can give your “new addition”. Choose the puppy school that you enrol your pup in wisely. Below are some important considerations that may help you make that choice.

Your facilitator should:

  1. Be a certified dog trainer
  2. Be highly experienced
  3. Have good people skills
  4. Not suggest or use any physicality in training what so ever
  5. Provide a non-competitive environment
  6. Treat you and your dog with respect
  7. Be able and willing to answer questions and provide correct information
  8. Provide a safe, non-threatening environment for your pup
  9. Have the know how to give your pup a solid skill set on which to build
  10. Be willing to involve your children either in class or privately

Pup school should be for pups aged from 8 weeks to 16 weeks of age. This is the period when socialisation skills are best absorbed and when fears and confidences develop.

To book your pup into one of our pup schools – Please phone Kyra direct on 0402 795 716 , phone your vet for details or contact Kyra via the Bright Bessy Dog Training Web site.

Posted in Puppy School

See life from their eyes

I have had the honour of training several dogs as support dogs for people confined to wheel chairs or who need their dogs to help them for other reasons. As part of the dogs’ socialization training, we often frequent markets, coffee shops and busy pedestrian areas.

To be honest, I’ve been shocked by the lack of understanding toward those people by some members of the public.

Below are some facts to think about:

  • When you see someone with a support dog approaching, please step aside to allow enough room for both dog and owner to pass comfortably.
  • If a person has a support dog by their side, please don’t pat their dog, their dog is at work.
  • Please don’t allow your dog to approach a support dog, particularly if it is obviously in training. These dogs have a very difficult job. They are looking after their owners and have to concentrate and remain non-reactive to the environment for long periods of time. Don’t make their jobs even harder.
  • When speaking to a person in a wheelchair, be aware of their personal space. Also be aware that their eye level is at your waist – so step back. It is for this reason that I am now teaching support dogs to ‘block’. On this command, they will sit between their owner and other people to maintain space.
  • Don’t allow your dog to disturb a support dog if it is resting. Respect this dogs space and ‘down time’.

Thank you in anticipation.

Posted in Trainer's Thoughts

So you’ve adopted a greyhound

Some people who have adopted greyhounds from a local shelter -have been told that they do not have to muzzle their new dogs in public- as the dogs have undergone the shelter’s temperament assessment.This information is incorrect.

The NSW Companion Animals Act 1998 requires that all greyhounds must wear a muzzle when in a public place.The only exemption to this are those greyhounds that have successfully completed an approved greyhound retraining program and passed the required assessment.These greyhounds are awarded a special numbered green collar and tag that they must wear and should be under effective control by a competent person. All greyhounds should also be kept on lead when away from their secure home property.


Accredited Greenhound assessors can be found on the Greyhound Adoption Program website.


Posted in Trainer's Thoughts

Millie’s Story

Millie is a most beautiful, fifteen month old Rough Collie. She was purchased from a breeder and endured a very long flight, at a very young age in a crate to her present owner. From the time that she arrived – Millie seemed unhappy, morose and not very responsive. More changes occurred in her short life which proved to be just too much for Millie.

Millie’s owner, who has trained dogs and owned several Rough Collies, rang me in despair as Millie would not bond with her or take any notice of her.

Millie would pull out of every harness and halti. She wouldn’t go near cars – let alone get into one! She also was scared of enclosed spaces such as garages and was even agitated when on the covered deck. The front door had never been graced with Millie’s footprints as she would not go near it. Her favourite place was in the corner of the back yard near her best friend next door – Holly the Labrador.

We found a Harness Lead that Millie couldn’t back out of. I also taught Trish not to resist when Millie pulls back. With some coaxing – Millie is now walking beautifully on a loose lead and rarely tries her backing trick because she knows it no longer works and she has no need to back away now!

The scary car is now the source of good things and she is jumping in and out of it without much coaxing. We even took her for a drive and she was quite relaxed.

We also implemented strategies that encouraged bonding between dog and owner and engaged the help of Holly to solve the front door problem. The deck is now Millie’s place to be calm, relaxed and sitting by the side of her new found love – Trish.

We still have a way to go – the next biggie, is to get her to go through the door of the vet surgery willingly.

We are succeeding with helping Millie because Trish is willing to do whatever it takes to make her dog truly happy for the first time in its life.

Unfamiliar experiences and changes in a dog’s life can, and often do affect them. The dog’s response can manifest in very subtle ways or develop into phobias often caused by associating past experiences with objects, feelings or people in the present.

Posted in Dog Stories