Welcome to “Ask Crystal,” where you can ask your pet behavior questions! You can submit your question for Crystal at the bottom of the page!
All if this rain has really put a damper on the exercise I am able to give my dog. I feel like it rains every other day and neither of us want to walk in the deluge. I can tell she isn’t getting enough exercise. Her behavior really starts to deteriorate. Can you provide any suggestions on what I can do to get her enough exercise during these rain soaked days?
Going Stir Crazy
I can definitely sympathize with you on this one. Dogs and humans alike start to go a little stir crazy with all of this precipitation. Luckily there are actually a lot of indoor activities that you can do with your dog to burn their excess energy and help stave off your own boredom. People really underrate the benefits of mental stimulation. Everyone seems to think that physical exercise is the only way to tire out a dog or even a human for that matter. Have you ever had a really mentally challenging day and you just felt worn out at the end of it? That is mental stimulation baby! It works for humans and dogs alike.
Here are ten ideas for a rainy day activity:
- Find the treat: One of my favorite activities with one of my dogs at Easter was doing our very own hunt with dog biscuits. Nico would run around the house at full speed, pushing pillows aside to locate her cookies. In the beginning, you are going to want to make it really easy for your dog. Put your dog in a sit stay, attach her to a tether or have a family member hold her collar. Place the treat in an easy location that your dog can see and tell her to “go find” and let her go. Initially, you want to hide the treats in very obvious places to make it really easy and keep them in the same area of the house. Next, take the dog out of sight and hide some treats again in similar locations. As she gets the hang of it, you can begin to really hide the treats so that she has to search. You can also use chews or a really special toy if you like for this game.
- Kibble hunting: I love this game outside in the grass but you can do it inside as well. Toss your dog’s meals in various places around the house on the floor and let her go searching.
- Find it cue: I actually love this cue for my dog reactive dog. It was a great way to distract her when another dog was approaching. Drop a treat on the ground right in front of your dog and say “find it”, as the dog is eating that treat drop another and say “find it”. Ideally, we are dropping treats while they are engaged in eating the other treat so they don’t see where it went and have to use their nose to locate the treat.
- Pick a hand, any hand: You may be noticing a theme here but if not, I really like searching games for dogs. Dogs love to use their nose and it really burns that energy. Hide a treat in one of your hands and then present both hands in closed fists to your dog. When she sniffs a hand, open the hand and show her what’s in it. If she finds the treat she gets to eat it!
- Hide and Seek: This is a game that I suggest for my Manners students to help their dogs learn their recalls. It is so much fun for both the human and the dog. Start by hiding in easy locations so that your dog can see you and then call their name. When she gets to you praise her in a happy, excited manner and give her a treat. You may need to put her in a sit stay or have someone hold her. I also like to hide when the dog isn’t looking at me. As they start to get the game start making it more difficult by hiding around corners, behind furniture and in other rooms.
- Go and Come: I love this activity to burn energy and I also used it for training off leash walking with my dog. It teaches them to go away from you and then come back and check in. I toss a treat or a piece of kibble away from me. The dog goes to the treat and then I call them back to me and give them another treat. Repeat. I actually used to feed my dog all her meals like this and she is amazing off leash. She always comes back to me periodically to check in. It is a great way to burn some physical energy as well.
- Hall Ball or Stair Master: Does your dog like to fetch? Do you have a long hallway or stairs? Then you have a way to exercise her indoors. Who said fetch has to be outside?
- Blow bubbles: Who doesn’t like popping bubbles? Grab some non-toxic kids bubbles or try some bacon flavored bubbles for dogs.
- Interactive feeding toys: I can extol the virtues of feeding your dog from enrichment feeders everyday all day long but they need it even more when their physical exercise is limited. So even if you don’t normally feed from a toy, I would highly suggest trying it on a rainy day. You can buy a toy like the Kong Wobbler or Bob A Lot. You can also make your own destructible feeders from stuffing cardboard boxes or toilet paper tubes. What a great way to recycle! You can even core an apple and stuff it with peanut butter or can food to make an edible feeder.
- Brush up on your training: Training is a great way to burn mental energy. Now is a great time to work on those skills you learned in Manners class. Or maybe teach your dog a fun new trick to impress your friends at your next party.
I hope this gives you some ideas of fun rainy day activities for you and your dog. Don’t let all this wet weather get you down! Make some wonderful memories with your dog and have fun!
Until next time,