Let's face it; when you get up on a dark, dreary winter's morning and look out at a raging blizzard, you start wondering why you ever wanted a dog. But dogs need to be active every day, no matter what the weather. This not only helps the dog to stay fit but also keeps them from getting bored. Bored dogs look for something to do, such as chewing up all of your Christmas presents.
When you can't take your dog for a walk, there are still things you and Fido can do to keep physically and mentally active - indoors.
My oldest dog, Pony, loves this; although the youngest, Hugo, hasn't go the hang of this game yet. Take the dog out of the room. Then, get a handful of dog treats or some of her dry kibble and hide them
- under old towels
- under plastic or paper cups
- in a scrunched up sheet of white paper or Christmas wrapping paper
- under a chair that won't break if the dog accidentally knocks it over
- inside of an interactive toy that releases treats sporadically as the dog plays with it
Bring the dog in and encourage the dog to sniff about and find the treats. If the dog seems clueless, point to a hiding spot. Act excited and smile so the dog relaxes. Years ago, I'd say to Pony, "Sniff!" and now she knows that's what she needs to do. Hugo doesn't get it. He stands by where a treat is hidden and stares at me until either I get it or Pony pushes him aside and gets it.
Hide and Seek
This is a variation of the old children's classic indoor game, only the dog is always "It." One or more people get a dog treat and hide throughout the home. When the dog finds you, praise and give the treat. If the dog seems clueless or if you really want to be found, start calling the dog's name.
You can also use a laser pointer. Choose a playroom and make sure nothing valuable is on the floor, because the dog may start to paw the floor in order to get to the light. Get a flashlight, your dogs and begin shining the light along the walls and the floor. Dogs usually hunt the zig-zag light spot. Turn the light off for a few seconds and then suddenly turn it on again. If the dog starts digging at the floor, clap your hands to distract him and shine the light somewhere where he can easily see it.
Watch the Puppy Go Nuts
This works best if you have more than one dog, but also works with a lone puppy or a dog that thinks she is still a puppy (like my Pony). You start playing fetch with the dog or letting two of the dogs wrestle. Usually the youngest then suddenly gets worked up. Hugo gets hold of a favored toy and shows it off closely to Pony's face and my face. (I guess I'm an honorary dog.)
I then suddenly lift my arms or Pony stamps a forefoot and HUGO'S OFF! He scoots about the room as quickly as possible, and then comes back to our faces for more. Pony and I don't even have to chase Hugo. I just say, "Give me that!" and Pony "laughs" and Hugo's off again for another round. This can go on for a quarter of an hour.
Ever wonder how those Westminster show dogs keep in shape when they spend most of their time traveling from show to show? They exercise on doggy treadmills. Treadmills are also recommended by professional dog trainers such as Cesar Milan to help burn off a dog's excess energy. Remember - a tired dog is a good dog.
I haven't tried this with my dogs but am considering it. Well, Christmas is coming up. Hmmm ---