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In the winter, it gets too cold, in the summer, it’s too hot, and in the spring, it gets too rainy! As much as we’d love the weather to be perfect year round, mother nature doesn’t always cater to our dogs’ every whim.
But, despite the weather’s lack of cooperation, it’s still important for both their physical and mental well-being to regularly exercise our dogs. Sometimes, that means exercising them indoors!
Aside from doing laps around the dining table, there isn’t a lot of vigorous physical exercise that can be done inside the average house. Still, being stuck indoors doesn’t have to be a drag!
Have you ever noticed your dog is quite energetic after a brisk walk but completely zonked out after a short training session? That’s because just 10-15 minutes of mental stimulation, an activity that requires your dog to concentrate and really process information, is about as physically exhausting as a half hour of moderate exercise like walking or playing.
So, when you’re stuck inside and your dog’s bouncing off the walls, try exercising her brain!
1. Obedience and Trick Training:
In addition to teaching your dog basic obedience skills, like sit, down, and come, take this extra time together to work on some advanced cues, like stay and speak. Once you’ve mastered those, start working on some cool new tricks, like roll over, sit pretty, or high-five. Not only will you strengthen your bond and communication skills with your dog, you’ll have some great fun showing off what you’ve taught — and your dog will LOVE being rewarded for learning new behaviors.
TIP: When training your dog, keep sessions short — about 15 to 20 minutes — and always end on a positive note. If your dog hasn’t quite grasped the latest trick or cue, go back to one he knows well and end your session on a successful execution of the trick. This will keep him excited for training and looking forward to the next session.
2. Brain Games and Dog Puzzles
Did you know there are tons of puzzles and games especially for dogs? From simple treat dispensing toys that require interaction by your pup, to elaborate puzzle games that force your dog to problem solve, dog puzzles are an excellent way to exercise your dog indoors! (research has shown that just a few minutes of mental exercise is far more exhausting to your dog than that same amount of time spent doing something physical!)
Remember to start off with simple puzzles and let your dog master those before stepping up to the more difficult, advanced puzzles — you don’t want your dog to get frustrated and lose interest!
3. Scent Games and Hide ‘n Seek
Scent games and hide and seek are excellent indoor activities that not only expend energy, but build confidence as well! Here’s how to play:
With your dog watching you, toss a few small, soft and meaty dog treats onto the floor. Just as your dog runs to eat them, say “go find it!” After a few tosses, start placing the treats inside boxes, in corners, or on low shelves (nothing above your dog’s nose level) and always use the “go find it” cue when he goes to get them.
Once he’s got the hang of it, try putting your dog in another room while you hide the treats. At first, use the same locations that you’ve already put treats to guarantee success in finding them. Then, allow your dog back into the room and say “go find it!” and watch him go to work searching for his tasty rewards. If your dog has trouble finding your hides, either stand in the vicinity or toss some additional treats in that direction to give him a boost. Eventually his nose will take over and lead him around the room to find the hidden treats on his own.
If you really want to thrill your dog, hide a big meaty bone or long-lasting chew treat from him to find and then enjoy!
TIP: If treats don’t excite your dog, scent games and hide and seek can also be played with a favorite toy. Or, you can even hide yourself and let your furriest friend come find you!
Finally, when you find your dog is still desperate to get her heart racing with some good, old-fashioned physical activity, try these indoor-friendly options:
A good game of tug doesn’t take up a lot of room, but it DOES use up a lot of physical energy! Look for tug toys that are durable enough to stand up to rigorous pulling and long enough that you can safely hold onto one while your dog pulls on the other.
Check out this article for information about how to play a structured game of tug with your dog.
5. Build an Indoor Obstacle/Agility Course
Being stuck inside doesn’t have to be boring! You can still practice agility exercises from the comfort of the living room using portable agility equipment. Look for tunnels that pop up when you’re ready to use them, but can be flattened to store in a closet or under the bed, or look for free-standing weave poles that don’t need to be anchored into the ground.
Of course, you can always build your own indoor obstacle course using chairs, tables, and couch cushions! Have fun getting on all fours and doing the course along with your dog — he’ll love it!
You see, bad weather doesn’t have to mean your dog will be bored or won’t get any exercise. With these fun bad weather boredom busters, you might even start looking forward to those rainy, snowy, or sweltering hot days!