How to keep my chi entertained both with and without me? (Long)
When I am at work, Ren sleeps almost the whole time, which I can see because my husband set up a webcam for the kitchen, where he stays during the day. When I am home he also has access to the living room and sometimes upstairs - we are still working on some issues with him fighting with the cat, so for the time being he only goes upstairs when I am able to provide constant supervision.
Anyway, I love Ren and enjoy spending time with him, but I am having 2 problems. One is that he doesn't seem to be able to entertain himself. If I leave the house he knows I'm gone and takes a nap, but if I am in the room with him, he wants constant attention. Sometimes I'd just like to be able to watch TV or read a book - and I'd be happy to have him cuddle on my lap, but he only really sits on my lap, and stays still, if he has a bully stick or something to chew. And because I am trying to get him to lose a few ounces, I don't want to rely on bully sticks to "babysit" him whenever I want some time to myself. So if I try to sit down and watch TV or something, he will follow me and sit and stare at me, or start scratching and/or digging at my leg, or whine or bark.
The second problem is a new one - even when I am ready and willing to play with him, I can't seem to keep him entertained. We will play fetch with a toy and he will lose interest after a few throws. He will play bow or make kicking motions with his back legs and occasionally bark excitedly - like he wants me to play, but nothing I do seems to satisfy him. He has several stuffed animals and other soft fabric toys, and for a while he used to play with them himself. But for the last month or two, he isn't interested in them even when I am right there making the toys "move" or trying to engage him.
So those are my two questions: how can I get him to occupy himself when I'm not able to play with him, and how can I keep him entertained when I do play with him?
I live in Buffalo and the weather is below freezing right now, so I do not take him outside for walks. The last couple times I tried to walk him, when the temperature was in the 40s, he shivered and refused to move. I did just recently order him a coat from Etsy that I am hoping might allow me to give him some walks during the winter - but it's a custom order and hasn't arrived yet.
I take him to an hour-long play group once a week, which he enjoys and spends a lot of time running around the room and/or play-wrestling with other small dogs. At home, sometimes I take him down to the basement for a while, where we have a big open space, and let him run around there. When we are in the basement, he can often entertain himself just by running around and/or sniffing stuff, but I try to join in by getting on my hands and knees and crawling around with him.
I feed him all of his food in Kongs or kibble-dispensing toys, but he has mastered most of them so it doesn't keep him busy for too long.
He has tons of toys, and I try to rotate them every couple of days by putting some away and taking out new ones - 2 or 3 at a time. When I first got him, this worked well and he showed renewed interest in the "new" toys whenever they were put back into rotation. Now, even when I bring out a toy he hasn't seen in a while, he's not interested in doing much except maybe playing fetch for a minute or two.
So when he starts whining at me to play with him, I wish he could speak English so he could tell me what he wants. Does anyone have any suggestions for keeping him entertained, both with and without me?
Edited to add: I just wanted to say that I don't have a problem with him following me around or wanting to be with me - the issue is that he constantly wants me to provide entertainment for him (he's not happy just cuddling with me) yet nothing I do seems to entertain him.
Last edited by Jaclyn_M; 01-03-2013 at 02:13 AM.