5 Ways to Exercise Your Dog Indoors on Wet Days
Walkies! Oh, it’s raining outside, sorry pooch. We have all had that experience. And even though your dog may not mind going out in the lashing rain, sometimes its just not practical! Arm yourselves with some treats and toys, and find out the best ways to entertain and exercise your dog indoors on wet days.
1. Exercise Using Dog Treats
Dogs love treats, right? Of course! But just dishing out treats won’t keep your furry friends entertained for very long. Using treats well can mean a long evening of fun!
One way is to play “Treat Hide and Seek”. Treat hide and seek can be great fun for dogs, and entertaining for humans watching!
How to do it: Give your dog a sniff of the treat so you have his attention. Have your dog sit and stay somewhere out of the way. (If your dog isn’t great at staying, start including it in his training, read here for why). Place the treat down somewhere in their line of sight, then give the command “find it”, or something suitable, to release him. He will more than likely go right to the treat and eat it, but this is good, you are teaching him the game.
Repeat the process, but put it a bit further away. Do this a few time until you are confident his understand the command “find it”.
Now start hiding the treat. Start somewhere easy, in the same room, and work your way up to more difficult hiding places. If your dog seems good at the game, you can even start hiding the treat in a different room. Eventually your dog will get used to the game, and look forward to playing it!
Why this is great: Dog treats have a yummy smell, and we all know dogs have great noses. Your pooch will be highly motivated to find the treat. They will probably zoom about looking and sniffing for the treat. This has two effects: First, they will be using energy walking or running round looking for the treat. Second, they use a lot of energy up using their noses, trying to figure out where it is. To your dog, this is great fun. It’s physical exercise, it’s mental exercise. And it doesn’t take much effort from your part!
Tips: When hiding the treats, watch to see how fast or how slow your dog takes to find them. If you hide them too well, your dog may get bored, or not understand the game. If he finds them too easily, up the stakes a bit!
Depending on how quickly your dog learns, you may be able to add to the game by using “warmer” or “colder” when he gets close or moves away from a hidden treat. This is a great way to interact with the game and get your dog looking to you, as master, for a bit of direction.
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2. Tug of War
Everyone knows and loves the good old game tug of war. Well, your dog finds it fun too! In fact, did you know Tug of War is a common type of reward? Yes, they love it that much! Just watch next time fly-ball is on TV.
How to do it: Get a rope toy and get your dog’s attention with it. Throw it a short distance. When they pick it up, playfully tug at the rope. Their natural instinct is usually to tug back. Let your dog win sometimes, and other times, give the command to “Leave”, then throw the rope and start again.
Why this is great: It will make your dog spend a lot of energy (depending on the size of your dog, it may give you a good exercise too!) It will build his/her confidence (especially when you let them win!) It will also teach them that fetching is fun, and will help train them to drop items on command.
Tips: This is a game to start when your dog is young. A puppy will more readily play this game naturally. Where as an older dog that has never played tug may not understand the concept. An older dog that has played this game since being young will continue to enjoy the game even as they mature. If your dog doesnt seem too keen, try different types of toys, for example, try a longer rope toy, a thicker or thinner rope toy, or a softer toy. Also try playing with the toy yourself to show its fun, then playfully tease your dog with the toy.
Some suggest treating your dog after giving the “leave” command. We would say to be careful with this, especially if your dog is just learning the game, as your dog may pick up on leaving the toy, rather than playing with it. Try and reward them for winning the toy, as well as for leaving it when commanded.
If your dog won’t let go of the toy on command, simply keep hold of the toy, but ignore your dog and don’t tug or play back. He will soon catch on that it’s no fun not listening and drop it. When he does, praise and play again.
3. Trick Fun
Rainy days are perfect for teaching some new tricks. If you need some ideas of what new tricks to teach, we have some great articles. Get yourself some dog treats and a clicker.
How to do it: Depending on the time you have available to spend, and on your dog’s ability, you can either start with something simple, or dive right in and start to teach something more complicated. We recommend using a clicker and treats for speedier results.
Why this is great: When done right, teaching tricks can be fun for you and your dog. Your dog will be entertained and get some treats, but also it will be great mental exercise as he/she figures out the “game” (i.e. what you want him to do, shhh he doesn’t know its not a real game!)
Tips: Try to stick with something you know you and your dog can cope with. Something too tricky (excuse the pun) can mean your dog and you get frustrated before making progress. Read our dog tricks section, and follow the walk-throughs. And remember, make it fun!
Just a further tip, did you know you can teach your dogs “tricks”, or commands, without the frustration of trying to teach him? How? Have your clicker handy (eg keep it in your pocket), and some treats near by (in a jar on a coffee table). When you notice your dog does something you like, for example he lies down on his side, click him immediately to mark the action and say a new command word, and then treat. He should soon, after noticing this a few times, catch on and link the new command to his action. This is a great and easy way to create a very well behaved dog.
4. Hide and Seek
…human style. Ok, we all loved this as a kid. But you may be surprised how good your dog is at this! After all, he cheats and uses his nose! This is similar to hide and seek with treats (see idea #1 above).
How to do it: If your dog will stay on command, have him sit and stay somewhere out the way. If your dog aint too good at staying, have a second person keep him in one spot. Go and hide somewhere in the house. Just like the treat version, start off easy until he understands the game. Call him to you excitedly, then be quiet. When he finds you, make a massive fuss and offer lots of praise.
Why this is great: It’s great fun! Your dog will, probably, be very excited when he finds you.
Tips: To make this easier, you can use a treat, but your dog should be able to sniff you out on his own (not saying your smell or anything). To make it harder, turn the lights out!
This game is also fun to play outdoors in the woods (although if you are reading this article, you don’t want to go outside right now!). If you play this outdoors, make sure you have another person with you that your dog knows very well; one of you hide, and one keep and eye on your dog to make sure he doesn’t run off in the wrong direction. Maybe keep him on a lead to start with and he can show you the way.
5. Home Gym
No, we don’t want to get your dog pumping iron. Use the space in your house to make your dog burn energy. There are different things your can try, with either one or more people involved in the fun. The idea is to use the house as a play area, exercise arena, and burn some of that excess energy.
How to do it: We will give you some ideas, but there will be many more you can do depending on your house layout etc. Here are some ideas:
Stepper. You’ve seen the machines in the gym where you walk up a never ending flight of stairs? This is a similar principle. Stand at the bottom of your stairs with your dog, and get him all excited about one of his soft toys. Throw it up the stairs and watch him chase after and fetch it. When he returns, offer lots of praise, and repeat. Simple! Just don’t wear out your carpet! Just a tip, don’t throw the toy down the stairs to chase. This could be dangerous for your dog due to the speed he will probably set off at. Also, throwing up means he will burn more energy with the energy being expended against gravity.
Why this is great: It’s easy to do, and good fun.
Tips: If your dog isn’t into chasing his toy, throw a treat instead, this will surly motivate him! To order treats, click here.