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This is a version of the “Find It” game, in which your dog “rescues” biscuits trapped under a backyard “avalanche.” Have your dog sit. Place a bit of biscuit a few feet away and give the command FIND IT! Praise the dog the instant he snatches the treat. Say GOOD in a high, cheerful voice. After a few successes, move the treat a bit farther away. Eventually, poke it just under the snow or hide it behind a bush or tree. (Let your dog watch you hide it.) In each case, say, FIND IT!, and praise your dog the instant he does.

Gradually, bury the treat deeper and farther—when your dog isn’t watching. Always use the same command, and praise your dog when he finds it.

You can also play this game with tennis balls or toys. Or play it in the house, hiding rather than burying the objects.

Gymnastics

Forget the uneven bars and the pommel horse—the balance beam is ideal for dogs! Find a plank that’s about one foot wide and as long as you’d like. Place it right on the ground or raise it a few inches above with packed snow, bricks or anything that provides stable support. To start, leash-walk your dog across the beam; you walk alongside. Use coaxing words such as, “Here we go,” or invent a command, such as FORWARD. Once your dog is comfortable with the plank, walk faster. Eventually, as long as you’re in a fenced-in area, your dog can walk the beam off-leash.

Cross-country Event

Make a circular racecourse in the snow by stomping a path with your boots, using a snow shovel or dragging a sled weighed down with a couple of friends. Invent a race where you make laps around your track. Pretend you’re trekking across the Arctic; each lap is one mile toward a goal of, say, 100 miles. Or use a real map and say that each lap equals a certain distance that you can chart on the map with a marker.

Treat Time

Your dog won’t know that you made these treats yourself, but you will, and that makes the connection between the two of you all the more significant. Each treat tidbit you offer, especially during training time, rewards the dog’s brain as well as his stomach. Here’s a simple recipe, and no baking is required.

Pictures

Photographing the canine family member is fun, but often tricky—check out a how-to video on taking great pictures at thebark.com/kids. These suggestions will help you snap fantastic photos that you can incorporate in greeting cards, calendars or online galleries.

No-bake Dog Treats

Mix up these quick, chewy biscuits in a big bowl or zip-lock bag. A small ice-cream scoop is handy for making ball-shaped treats (you can also use your hands), and you’ll want a rolling pin and cookie cutters for shaped cookies. (Dogs care about the taste—pedigreed deliciousness!—not the bone or fire-hydrant shapes.) Create a work surface with a sheet of waxed paper or foil; save it to wrap the finished treats.

Ingredients

6 cups rolled oats

2 cups peanut butter (sugar-free, ideally)

1 cup liquid (milk, soy milk, water or broth)

Steps

1. Assemble the ingredients in a large bowl. Using a sturdy utensil, mix until smooth. Add more liquid if the mixture feels too crumbly. As the treats dry, they become drier and harder.

2. Wet your hands to shape the treats: roll out logs and slice them into coins, or scoop out small balls and flatten them. For cut-out cookies, roll the slab 1/4- or 1/2-inch thick; match the treat size to your dog’s size. Dunk the cookie cutter in water between cuts to help the dough release.

3. Store the treats in the refrigerator or, for an even crunchier treat, in the freezer.

Plus, Share Your Photos!

Join us in a holiday celebration of kids and their dogs. Visit Bark’s online kids center—and learn fun and easy craft projects. Submit your art projects and photographs for a chance to win great prizes and to be a part of our online gallery. thebark.com/kids

 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 67: Nov/Dec 2011
Michael J. Rosen is a longtime Bark contributor who has just published My Dog! A Kids' Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Dog (Workman Publishing). fidosopher.com

Michael J. Rosen

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