Dogtown: Entertaining games to keep your pup occupied

I mentioned recently that we had some visitors from the Shelter Playgroup Alliance come present a workshop at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter. 

These folks are trainers from the Bay Area who specialize in helping volunteers and staff to provide enrichment activities for dogs at animal shelters. Most of the activities can be put together at minimal expense. 

These games can entertain your dogs at home too! One great idea for the hot days we’ve been having lately is to make ice cubes for your dog to lick and push around on the grass or patio. 

The ice can be made from broth or have some treats frozen inside for added interest. Muffin tins would provide a good-sized ice cube. Muffin tins can also be used for a hide and seek game by putting some treats in the cups and placing tennis balls on top. 

The game is to move the tennis balls to get the treats. Remember to collect the tennis balls before you walk away as they are not a good chew toy to leave with your dog. Kibble pieces in a plastic water bottle (with the lid open) challenge your dog to bat it around until all the pieces have shaken out. 

One of our volunteers has been making “snuffle mats,” a pillow-like mat thick with knotted fleece strips where treats are distributed. Our foster dog Lucy (the blind Boston Terrier) eats most of her dinner from her snuffle mat which she loves. 

The handmade mats are available at Humboldt Pet Supply on South G Street and the sales go straight to Redwood Pals for more enrichment activities! The presenters also suggested making a snuffle trail of kibble around the yard to get your dog using his or her nose. 

Worried about your dog getting fat from these games? Just measure out their food in the morning and use some of it for fun activities through the day! The same measured food plan works well for training throughout the day also. Do you have other fun activities for entertaining your dog? We’d love to hear about them.


We have some youngsters available for adoption. First is Daisy, an 8-month-old mixed breed female. She is black with white highlights and looks quite a bit like my beloved Hank dog, guesstimated to be border collie and Lab. 

I admit to a special soft spot for these black dogs. Daisy is quite the little lover! She has a lot of wiggly energy but will happily sit on your feet and lean back for petting. Getting to be close to people is her favorite thing. She is a sweet-tempered girl and seems to get along well with other dogs once she gets to know them. 

I took her by the cats and she literally tiptoed past them. I think she could be a good candidate for a home with cats. That is an area where her timid approach at first could be a big plus. Daisy would also be a great candidate for the games described above. 

They are perfect for a young dog that needs something to occupy some of their time. Daisy is spayed, microchipped and current on vaccinations. She is available through the Humboldt County Animal Shelter at 980 Lycoming Ave. in McKinleyville. More information about the shelter is at (707) 840-9132.


Redwood Pals has a youngster available also. This little guy, Bailey, is about 11 weeks old. He came to Redwood Pals with his five brothers and sisters when they were about eight weeks old. The puppies were left to roam the neighborhood and neither the owner of the mother nor the neighbor where they settled in were interested in keeping them or caring for them. Fortunately they were quite healthy, other than a horrible flea infestation and the usual puppy worms, both of which were easily remedied. 

After two weeks of fostering, the siblings went on to one of our partners in Oregon. 

We held Bailey back as he has shown a little bit of a neurological compromise. When he first came to us he would trip and fall sometimes. A trip to the vet showed no disease and no obvious injury. The vet speculated that it could have been a birth defect.  

He may never be the most agile athlete but the stumbling continues to lessen and never seems to bother this happy little pup, whose tail rarely stops wagging! 

If you would like to meet this very cuddly, very happy fellow to foster-to-adopt (once neutered), please contact us at Redwood Pals Rescue at [email protected] or leave a clear message at (707) 633-8842.




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