5 Games That Will Improve Your Next Dog Walk

Going for a walk is the highlight of most dogs’ days. It’s the opportunity to get out, stretch their legs, smell new smells, see new sights, and check on their neighborhood. Walks are about more than just exercise. It is also a time for dogs and their human to bond and do a fun activity together. But because there are so many interesting things going on, it can be tough for dogs to stick to their manners and walk politely on a leash. With so many other fascinating sights, smells and sounds, you as the human cease to be someone worth paying attention to. 

Fortunately, there are games you can incorporate into your walk to keep the attention on you. Not only do you maintain the focus of your dog, which reduces pulling, reactivity and other problems, but the games also make walks with your dog stimulating, fun and improve the bond between the two of you.

Change

Anyone who has done agility work with his or her dog will recognize this move. In agility it is known as a front cross, but it is also a fantastic tool to use during walks. As you’re walking along, you ask your dog to “Change!” from one side of you to the other while facing you and without breaking stride.

This is a great tool to use during walks for several reasons. First, it brings the attention back on you. You’re asking your dog to do something interesting, and you’re also having the dog face you as he does the trick. Second, you can use it to keep yourself between your dog and possible problems, such as other dogs you pass on the street, without having to pause your walk or even slow down.

You can teach your dog to do this move by starting at a sit. Use treats or a toy to lure your dog from a sit on one side of you to a sit on the other. The lure works to keep your dog facing you while she changes sides. Build up the speed of the game by using the command at a stand, then at a slow walk, then at a speedy walk. Pretty soon you’ll be able to ask for a “Change!” at any time during a walk and can make a game out of it.

Catch

Playing a game of catch is a great way to get your dog zeroed in on you. You can do this using treats or a toy. When your dog starts to get distracted or seems to forget that you’re even on the walk with him, you can play a couple rounds of “Catch!” to remind your dog that you’re a really fun partner to have on a walk. He’ll decide that sticking next to you is a smart idea because you’re going to randomly toss him something fun or delicious.

The catch game can be used to get attention back on you and can also be used as a reward for other good behaviors like sitting at a street corner or politely passing another dog on the street.

Find It

This is another version of a game of catch, but instead of catching a treat in the air, your dog will find it on the ground. Simply toss a treat on the ground nearby and tell your dog to “find it.” Your dog will have to use her nose to sniff out where the treat went.

This is a great game for dogs that need to be distracted from potential triggers. For instance, if your dog pays too much attention to approaching dogs, or gets nervous around people passing closely on the sidewalk, you can use the “find it” game to put her attention on a simple task. Instead of focusing on what she fears, she’ll focus on completing a job that includes a tasty reward.

To note, if you have a dog that is infamous for snatching unapproved snacks from the street, then this isn’t the best game because it reinforces that he or she can eat things found on the ground.

Stop-Go-Fast-Slow

Turn heeling and sitting into a game! Instead of asking your dog to occasionally sit, such as only at street corners, and maintain the same speed the entire walk, you can create an entertaining game by mixing up your commands and rewarding your dog for playing the game.

During the walk, engage your dog with an upbeat voice to walk as fast as you, go slow, go fast, sit, go slow, sit and however else you might want to mix it up. Reward your dog for keeping pace with you and transitioning speed or sitting quickly.

Keep it random and unpredictable by varying how long you go at a certain pace, which pace you switch to, how long you hold a sit before moving forward again, and so on. You become a really fun partner in a game that keeps your dog interested in seeing what you’ll ask for next and earning a reward for participation.

Not only does it reinforce basic obedience training, but it also builds up your dog’s desire to pay attention to you during walks in distracting or stimulating situations.

Go Touch

One of the best parts of a walk for a dog is to be able to explore the environment around him. Instead of letting your dog pull you to every tree and fire hydrant, turn exploration into a game you play together.

First, teach your dog hand targeting. This is a great exercise to teach your dog for a variety of reasons. Once your dog has hand targeting down, you can extend the training to target objects that you point to. You can then play, “Go touch” during walks.

Send your dog over to touch a tree, or a fence post or a flower pot. Your dog gets a double reward — the reward earned when he or she touches the target and the reward of being allowed to go investigate something new.

Here’s a video on how to train your dog for hand targeting:

Codified signals observed in octopus interactions

Biologists have long considered octopuses to be solitary animals. While many cephalopods, such as cuttlefish and squid, use complex patterns and colors for both interspecies and conspecific communication, octopuses’ amazing color-changing and camouflage abilities have been interpreted as little more than anti-predator adaptations.

This perception is slowly changing, however, as observations of octopuses in the wild show that they might not be so asocial after all. After reviewing hours of recorded interactions between octopuses in Australia, researchers from three universities have found that at least one population of octopus actually has a predictable code of signals used in agonistic interactions with other members of their species.

David Scheel (Alaska Pacific University), Peter Godfrey-Smith (City University of New York), and Matthew Lawrence (The University of Sydney) recorded interactions between Octopus tetricus, also called the Common Sydney octopus and Gloomy octopus, in Jervis Bay, Australia. The recordings, which were taken when there were no human divers present, documented more than 500 actions performed by 186 individual octopuses. More than 7 hours of interactions between individuals were ultimately documented.

As the researchers studied the recordings, they noticed distinct patterns of behavior during the interactions. For example, when an octopus with a dark body color approached another dark-colored octopus, the situation was more likely to escalate to aggressive wrestling and grappling. On the other hand, if a dark octopus approached a pale octopus, the situation was more likely to end with the pale octopus leaving the area. If a pale octopus approached a dark octopus, the dark octopus rarely retreated.

In addition to changes in body color, the researchers observed octopuses standing very tall, raising their body mantles high above their eyes, and spreading their webs wide, or, when threatened, crouching low and flattening themselves closer to the seabed. Many of these signals and behaviors were displayed in combination – standing very tall and spreading their web while displaying a darker color, for example.

This study is the first to document systemic use of signals in agonistic interactions among octopuses. The researchers involved believe that such behaviors are probably common anywhere octopuses must interact, such as areas with plentiful food or with a shortage of places to hide. They hope to expand their research to see how these codified social interactions affect population size and, consequently, octopus evolution.

  • Based on materials provided by Cell Press
  • Journal reference: David Scheel, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Matthew Lawrence. Signal Use by Octopuses in Agonistic InteractionsCurrent Biology, 2016; DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2015.12.033
  • Image: Graphical abstract showing some of the different visual signals used by Octopus tetricus. (Provided by Elsevier Inc. via Current Biology)
  • Submitted by volk-morya
Deducing occupations

I’ve gotten a few messages related to deducing a person’s occupation,

like this one:

and this one:

How can i know if someone works outdoors or indoors??? — sherlockholmes1928

and this one:

This is one of the more difficult deductions to make about a person. There are thousands of occupations. Some people work multiple jobs, or have changed careers multiple times. Context is key, as with everything. I will say that it might be more reliable simply to deduce a person’s field, since within a field there are potentially hundreds of occupations, or even the nature of their job. For example, start with deciding whether or not someone deals with customers on a regular basis, works in a highly skilled or technical field such as the sciences or the medical field, or if they work in the arts. If you can narrow down the category, that’s an excellent start.

It is also fairly simple to deduce a person’s financial situation; the status of their clothes, watch, phone, etc etc. From there, you can decide their relative wage, which can possibly lead you to what type of occupation they may have.

One of the best ways to learn more about occupations is to observe them. Next time you’re sitting in class having difficulty paying attention, observe the mannerisms of your teachers or professors. Notice their vocabulary, the way they present themselves, and what they wear. If you happen to see them outside of a professional teaching setting, pay even more attention to these things to notice the difference in and out of the workplace.

Be aware that a persons’ work clothes and casual clothes are likely to be different, and this difference can widen the more prestigious the profession is. Some businessmen do make it habit to wear suits or at the very least nice clothing outside of the workplace, but it is all a matter of preference. Someone working at a retail clothing store may not have a strict uniform, so their work clothes and casual clothes overlap greatly. This has to do with having a job versus a profession.

Realize that women have more options for professional attire - many blouses can double as casual and dress tops. A woman wearing something along the lines of a nice ruffly blouse and a pencil skirt outside of work might have to wear similar clothes to work.

For both genders, however, shoes can often overlap in work and home life, so pay specific attention to them. Open-toed shoes, for example, are generally considered inappropriate for work (except for certain outdoor occupations, especially those to do with the water like life-guarding and guiding whitewater rafts). Many professional businesswomen wear heels or dress flats to work.

Sometimes it might be easier to deduce what a person doesn’t do for a living.

Hands and fingernails can be good indicators of what a person does or does not do.

  • If they are well-kept and clean, they do not have a job in manual labor.
  • If they are manicured and painted, or are fake, they likely do not work with their hands heavily (this does not include computer-related jobs, as nails don’t get in the way).

In a nutshell, instead of trying to figure out someone’s exact job title, aim to figure out the nature of their occupation.