Is it too cold or too warm for your dog to be outside?
As I sit to write this the outdoor thermometer reads -2 degrees. No, that wasn't a typo. It's frigidly cold right now, so most people put outdoor activities with their dog on the back burner and bundle up inside.
Whether it is cold or warm outside our dogs still need exercise. Both mental and physical exercise or we'll likely see our dogs go from cute and cuddly to beast mode pretty darn quick. Without exercise, they have no way to release all the pent-up energy they have. It's like their batteries recharge to super strength overnight and they wake up raring to go!
We would rather see our furniture stay intact and not torn up by a bored dog and their bad behavior. It is best to keep the dog well exercised!
A well-exercised dog is a tired dog. A tired dog equals a happy owner!
Here is part 1 of the 3 part series for 13 Indoor Exercises For Your Dog:
1) Fetch With A Flirt Pole: This one might need a clear explanation as the name might trip you up. 🙂 A flirt pole is a long pole, (think fishing pole but a little longer) in which a light but sturdy dog toy is attached at the end of a rope tied to the end of the pole. The idea is to “tease” your dog until they engage in a game of fetch. You want your dog racing and running to try and catch the “lure” at the end of the rope. The pole allows you to maneuver the “lure” to quickly and fro while your dog tries desperately to catch and retrieve the toy “lure.” If your dog grabs the toy, make sure to practice the “drop it” cue.
2) Find It: To introduce this game, start with tossing a treat on the floor. As your dog goes to pick it up and eat it, use the cue “find it.” Don't assume your dog knows what the cue “find it” means. Start with the basics until they catch on to the word. Once they get good at “finding” the treats, start to hide them in obvious spots. Ask them to go “find it, treats.” I add the word treats in so they know what they are supposed to look for. Later you can name objects they can find. I start to hide the treats in trickier spots as they get better at this game.
Make sure you don't hide the treats in such a tough spot that they feel the need to tear apart the place trying to get at it. After you've exhausted the “find it, treat” intro level, your ready to move on to another object. Start with one of their toys, toss it on the floor and get ready to say “find it, [name of toy]” when they go get it or pick it up. After they have made an association with the toy by name (usually after several repetitions) you can start to hide it in easy spots like sticking out from under a chair or around the corner. Start to teach your dog that every toy has a name and they can go “find it” on cue!
3) Treadmill: Most people rush the introduction to this way too fast. So first and foremost take it slow when introducing this activity to your dog. Do not force them on and turn it up right away as this will create panic and fear!
- Step 1: Start with tasty training treats and work on luring your dog on the treadmill. Rewarding when they get all 4 paws on and lure them back off. Only give treats when they are on the treadmill, not when they get off. Soon they will start to see that being on the treadmill is better than getting off. Make sure your treadmill has safety rails or at the very least something blocking the sides. We do not want them to learn to jump off from the side of the treadmill. You can even feed your dog their meals on the treadmill. Put your dog's food bowl on the treadmill to make the best positive association with the piece of equipment.
- Step 2: Be sure to have a harness on your dog, not a collar, so you don't injure their neck if they put on the brakes and refuse to walk once the treadmill gets started.
- Step 3: When you turn the treadmill on for the first time, make sure it is in a slow speed setting. Don't increase the speed until your dog is 100% confident and walking naturally.
- Step 4: End on success. Don't try to push your dog for more than a few minutes the first few times they get on. Your dog doesn't understand why the ground below them is moving, but nothing or no one else is. Most dogs' natural instinct kicks in and their legs start walking when the tread starts moving. However many dogs need quite a bit of time to warm up the idea.
4) Tricks: Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise so working on trick training is a great way to tire your dog out. You may want to introduce a clicker when teaching tricks. A clicker, which is used to mark the right behavior (click every time the dog does the right task) can make trick training go a lot faster. Start off with simple tricks like “spin,” “shake,” “high five” and move on to the more advanced tricks like “roll over” “bang, your dead” and “hide” (where the dogs put their paws over their eyes to look like they are hiding). I recommend Kyra Sundance books on trick training! http://domorewithyourdog.com/sundancedogteam.com/
5) Jumping: I don't mean jumping on guests when they come over for a visit. I do mean getting or making a “dog jump” and teach them how to go over on cue. There are tons of games you can play with jumping. Including fetch over the jump, figure 8's over and around the jump poles, jumping at different heights and the “jump and recall” game where you send them over and then call them back over from a distance game. Affordable Agility has excellent dog jumps as well as other agility options. https://www.affordableagility.com/
No matter what the weather is doing outside, you can always exercise your dog inside!
You can work on all of these activities in the house when the weather is cold, rainy, snowy or too warm. There are even more indoor activities you can do with your dog indoors. Check out the part 2 and part 3 of this series aimed at expelling all your dog's boundless bundles of energy while staying inside.