As I’m sure many of you are aware, we have the fortune of having a gorgeous Samoyed as part of our family, so we have no excuse not to take him out in this lovely Nova Scotian winter. However, many of you might have dogs that aren’t as eager to pull you along the ice-covered streets, or bound through snow higher than they are. Or perhaps, you yourself aren’t able or willing to endure the elements. So what can you do to burn that excess energy and ensure a happy dog, and happy home?
Luckily, we have a few ways of helping tire out our four-legged family members on days you just can’t get out.
Whether it be teaching them a new trick, or working on basic obedience, mental stimulation is a fantastic way to tire out and bond with your dog. Dehydrated liver treats are absolutely perfect for this game, as it can be easily broken into tiny training sized pieces. In order to prevent boredom and frustration, it is a good idea to only work on individual tricks or commands for a maximum of 20 minutes.
- Obstacle course
This can be as simple as setting up a broomstick for them to jump over, to as elaborate as your imagination will allow. Think blanket-fort maze, because who doesn’t love an excuse to build a blanket fort? Just keep in mind to set it up to ensure your dogs’ success, so that you both avoid frustration. Much like with training, try to keep each session to 20 minutes or under.
This canine classic is another way that you can continue the Netflix binge while tiring out your pooch. Just grab their favorite tug toy and shake it in front of them a few times, they are sure to grab hold, and tug, tug, tug their little heart out. Tug is a game that we do not recommend playing with any dog that displays aggressive or dominant tendencies, as it brings out their prey drive. Adding tug to a game of fetch or stair runs adds an extra element of fun and exhaustion.
- Treat puzzles
Another way to mentally and physically challenge Fido, treat puzzles come in all shapes and sizes. You can find sophisticated puzzle toys at your local pet retailers, or you can make your own at home, with materials as simple as a muffin tin and tennis balls. Although not necessarily a puzzle, filling a Kong (or similar) toy with healthy treats, such as mashed banana, and freezing has the potential to entertain them for hours.
- Kibble/ Treat Hunt
Why not make your dog work for their supper? Try hiding their kibble around the house then let them sniff it out. They will have a blast sniffing out every nook and cranny, imagining they are out in the wild roaming for their food. Meanwhile, you can sit back and enjoy the show. Don’t be surprised if you see them randomly sniffing around for the next few days too, like a never-ending Easter egg hunt.
- Stair runs
A dreaded experience for many of us, this is a great way to activate the muscles and tire out Spot. If you are looking to burn some of that pent up energy yourself, why not run up and down the stairs with your pet? Feeling more like staying in your PJs and not exerting energy, how about tossing their favorite toy down the stairs and have them run it back up to you? Just make sure that you aren’t running them too hard or long, as it could injure muscles and/or joints.
Don’t have stairs; even just a game of fetch down the hall will help burn some of that energy.
- “Help” with the shoveling.
Not officially an indoor activity, but if you are in a location where you have to shovel, why not bring your canine out with you and make a game of it? Toss the lighter snow on them or even throw more solid snow for them to bound after (just make sure there is no ice they can’y bite through or any other foreign objects that may hurt them). If you really want a good laugh and some fun pictures, even let them grab the shovel, but as always, make sure to supervise so they don’t injure them selves with it. This will tire them out so that if you just don’t have that walk in you after shoveling, they should still be content enough until you can go out again. Plus, it will make the chore of shoveling much more entertaining, and less daunting for you.