Your dog is becoming a furry monster. What can you do?
By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Cynologist
Often, we think that to wear our dogs out, we need to encourage them into physical exercise. But depending on the weather outdoors or the physical condition of your dog, that might night be the best solution. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Below are some fun activities that combine both problem-solving and physical exertion.
And, if you feel that your relationship with your dog may not be where you would like it, these activities are a great way to engage your dog.
Play a game of fetch
Toss a ball up or down a set of stairs if your dog is highly active and energetic, and repeat this each time the dog returns the ball to you. A short session of stairwell fetch expends more energy than a trot over level ground, though it’s not an ideal activity for clumsy or accident-prone dogs.
When played correctly, that is by your rules and not your dog’s, tug-of-war is actually a natural outlet for energy and exercise, and promotes real bonding between you and your dog.
Practice Basic Commands
Does your dog know Sit, Down, and Stay? Add on the three D’s to their commands: Distance, Duration, and Distractions.
Hide and Seek
This activity requires two people unless the dog already follows a command to “stay.” Instruct the dog to sit and stay or ask someone to keep the dog in place while you find a hiding spot. Call the dog’s name one time to begin its search for you, at which point the other person would release the dog. Praise and rewards upon finding you teach the dog to repeat the activity. The ASPCA recommends that you leave part of your body visible when hiding, as this helps the dog locate you when first learning the game and then gradually make it more difficult for the dog to find you.
Find the Treat
Hide multiple treats, then allow your dog into the room while encouraging him to find them all. This is a favorite of Penny and Autumn.
Tricks are a great way to interact with your dog. They’re fun, and you can amaze your friends at what your dog can do. You can look them up on the internet, or buy a book such as 101+ tricks you can teach your dog.
Create an indoor agility course. Have your dog walk under tables, jump over broomsticks in doorways, climb up and down the stairs, weave around chairs, etc.
Teach your dog how to walk on a treadmill.
Inclement weather may stop you from taking your dog outdoors, but indoor games and activities can provide the dog with mental and physical stimulation. At the same time, you wait for the sunshine to reappear. Games reduce the chance of behavioral problems that stem from pent-up energy and boredom, and indoor dog activities also allow you to work on obedience training.