The good news: the kids are off school, and you’re snowed in! The bad news? You’re ready to sit by the fire, but your dog is full of energy and ready to go. But there is nowhere to go- it is too cold to be outside for more than a few minutes, and the roads are dangerous. What to do with an energetic dog in need of exercise and stimulation? Here are some ideas:
- Make him work for food– When you serve your dog his food, chances are the meal is gone within a minute or two. Food dispensing toys are one way to make the process more challenging, therefore taking longer. The Kong is a well-known favorite, but more and more treat-dispensing toys are on the market. Some options include: Kong Wobbler, Kibble Nibble, Busy Buddy toys, Orbee Treat Spot toys, Tug-a-Jug, Bob-a-Lots and Buster Cubes. You can also hide his food in small amounts at different locations all over the house. Make sure your dog is not watching you hide the food…the hunt will be over before it begins!
- Indoor games– Our trainer, Pam Ginther-Perry, highly recommends playing fun games that will both physically and mentally stimulate your dogs. She suggests throwing a ball or toy up and down the steps, which wears out your dog. Different family members can spread out in separate rooms, calling the dog and rewarding him with treats when he responds. Box hunts are also fun- use several boxes, but create designated treat boxes. Your dog will have to use his sense of smell to locate the treats. You can increase the difficulty, but do it slowly, by stacking and hiding the boxes. For more games.
- Have a friend over- If your dog has a favorite friend to play with, have her over! Just put all of your breakables away first.
- Daycare- Places like All About Dogs have huge indoor play areas, where dogs can run, wrestle, and burn off energy. Even if it just once or twice a week, it will make your dog much calmer at home.
- Take him for a ride- Most dogs just like to come with you, anywhere. While it is not safe to leave your dog unattended in a cold car, you can take him out for a treat or even just a ride.
- Set up an obstacle course- Use towels, hula hoops and toys to create an obstacle course for your dog. Never use force! Allow your dog to investigate the obstacles on his or her own and give lots of praise for being brave.
- Give your dog a massage- Who wouldn’t want a massage? It is a great way to connect with your dog while also providing many health benefits including finding any lumps and bumps that you can discuss with your vet. To learn massage basics. Simple grooming, such as brushing, is also relaxing for your dog.
- Sign up for a group class- Whether you are interested in learning a new skill or need to brush up on basic manners a group class is a great way to set up that special time for you and your dog. All About Dogs offers group classes. If you’re not sure what is best for you and your dog, give us a call.
- Teach him some tricks- You can work on basic commands such as “sit” or “leave it” or move on to fist bumps and fetching. For information on teaching tricks.