It’s raining, it’s pouring, and right now; my dog Chester is snoring. That’s right, we are in the middle of winter and it is so cold! As my dogs get older, they seem less interested in exercising in the rain and hail. They would much prefer to head out when there is sunshine, and I’ll be honest, so would I. But if our dogs need exercise no matter what the weather is, we do need to suck it up, put on our rain coat and get out there. Dogs who need exercise but do not get the required amount, often become bored and frustrated, taking their excess energy out on your furniture, back yard and other prized items in your home. Exercise is one of the most important aspects of responsible ownership. It is an essential service to our dogs!
So, what happens on those cold old rainy mornings, when you and your dog look at each other and wonder how on earth you can do without getting soaking wet? The good news is that there are lots of exercise routines that can be conducted indoors, which are not only good for moving about, but good for mental exercise too. As a behaviourist, I love seeing dogs use their brain, it is something we need to do more for our dogs, not only to help their cognition, but also their overall happiness and confidence.
Hide n Seek
This is a great game to play with your dog. Using their favourite toy, or a yummy treat, cue your dog to sit and stay. Place the treat nearby and cue your dog to ‘search’. Praise them when they find it and reward them again if you want to. Continue this, each time making the item more difficult to find. You might hide it under something, or even in a different room. Practise this over and over until your dog tires.
A new trick
Learning something new takes a lot of brain power. There are so many things you can teach your dog to do and it is a lot of fun! Make sure your dog enjoys the activity and that they feel empowered.
Sit and stay
Teaching your dog to sit and stay is incredibly powerful. Not only does it teach your dog good manners, it is great for brain power and self-control. Initially, cue your dog to sit and stay for a second or two, then release them with the word ‘FREE!’ immediately, followed by praise and yummy treats. Increase the time and distance your dog can tolerate. Then, you can make it fun and make it into a game. I love playing the sit and stay game, and then hiding from my dog, where they have to find me in the house. It is also a great recall trick, which is an added bonus!
So, if you find that the weather is miserable, or you’re just looking for some fun to have with your doggo indoors, try these three games. They’re incredibly easy, and fun, and most of all they allow you and your dog to bond and release some pent-up energy. The most valuable part of your relationship with your dog is having mutual trust and respect. Enjoy your time together and get to know your dog. They already know everything about us, maybe it’s time we return the favour.