Dogs need to exercise their bodies and minds every day, regardless of the weather. So what do you do to ease their boredom when the weather is too cold or wet to go for a long walk or play outdoors with them?
At these times, it’s good to have a few ideas up your sleeve to brighten up even the dullest day.
Hide and seek
A classic game that is not only great fun for you and your pet; it allows your dog to use its hunting instincts. If you’re trying this for the first time, show your dog its favourite toy or hold a treat in your hand and get your dog to sit and stay.
Put the toy or treat onto the floor a little distance away and then tell your dog to get it. Keep repeating this over longer distances until you can actually leave the room and hide it in another part on the house or under a carpet. Then shout your dog to “find it!” (Or get someone else involved in doing this with you).
Once it runs off to find what you’ve hidden, your dog will work off some energy searching around, sniffing and trying to locate the toy or eat the goodies. You can even tell your dog to sit and stay while you leave the room and hide yourself, before shouting him to find you.
This is a great indoor game that allows your dog to release his pent-up energy by chasing and retrieving his favourite toy (it’s also another useful way of practicing his ‘drop, sit and stay’ training that you use outdoors).
Choose a large area in your home or your hallway to play this and remove any breakable items that may be in the way for safety. Grab your dog’s favourite toy and wave it around vigorously to get his attention. Once he’s quivering with excitement to play, hurl the toy across the room or down the hall and watch him sprint after it. Several good throws and a few wild chases can blow off a lot of steam and keep your dog from going stir-crazy from being cooped up in the house.
Enrol in a class
Joining a puppy or dog training class, or attending agility and obedience lessons can be a rewarding and fun social event for you and your dog, as well as being a welcome change of environment – especially in mid-winter.
It’s also a great way to engage your dog’s intellect and help him expand his extra energy. You can also continue to apply the tips and training you’ve both learned at home on bad weather days.
Try treat dispensing toys
These are invaluable boredom busters and there are a huge range of different designs and difficulty levels to choose at your local pet shop.
They all work on the principle of having a treat placed inside them and then – as your dog chases, plays and gnaws at them – he has to work out how to get the treat out. As well as being an absorbing and rewarding challenge, you can leave the room and your dog will remain occupied whilst you do other things in the home.
Arrange a ‘Doggie Play Day’
If your dog has a favourite playmate or friend, consider inviting them to your home on a bad weather day. They can play and have fun together and, if you get on with the owner, you could have a social day too. Make sure breakables and valuables are out of the way though, as dog play can get quite rough and tumble.
By using your imagination and adopting a few simple games, you can turn a boring day into a fun day for both you and your dog – whatever the weather.