Keep dogs’ exercise going indoors during winter months | Dogalize
The motto I selected 44 years ago when I started my first 4-H dog obedience class was: “Have fun with your trained dog.” In searching for the latest ways of having fun with your dog in bad weather, as well as keeping your dog healthy (through exercise) and sane (through mental stimulation), I found a website, “6 Rainy Day Activities for Dogs – iheartDogs.com/” (formerly called “I Love Dogs.com) by Kristina N. Lotz of Wilsonville, Oregon, a certified professional dog trainer-knowledge assessed (CPDT-KA).
Indoor Agility Course. When I was around 5 or 6, my mother allowed me to run and play in the house on bad weather days. I “rode” the back of the sofa as my horse and created “cabins” out of chairs and blankets. You can do the same thing with your dog, creating jumps with broomsticks, using an old cushion for a pause table, or your stairs in place of an elevated dog walk. Cardboard boxes can turn into tunnels. With praise and treats, encourage the dog to master each obstacle, and then increase the speed of the game.
Canine Conditioning. Lotz suggests Pawsitive Performance for online exercise classes. I typed the name in my browser and looked over the various websites. I selected Bobbie Lyons who is a master trainer and has a certificate for canine fitness. However, the short videos of her classes at various puppy ages showed professional equipment such as medicine balls of different sizes and balance boards that most dog owners don’t have access to. In my dog classes, I used an old extension ladder lying flat on the floor that taught the pups to pick up their feet as they trotted from end to end. I also used a 12-foot by 6-inch board from the basement and ramps of scrap lumber of different widths to teach the dog awareness of where its feet are.
One thing that Lyons stresses is, “Balance and body awareness for puppies, using 10 to 20 treats and limiting the total session to one minute for each month of age. Short sessions keep the pup wanting more.”
Activity Dog Toys. These are especially good for dogs that are motivated by food. The dog has to figure out how to get the treat hidden inside. They act as brain stimulators and are wonderful if you have to leave your dog at home for a few hours.
Doggy Games. Lotz recommends Darfinc (www.darfinc.com) who has created two board and card games that can be played by humans as well as dogs. I checked that website and discovered that humans play the game and the dog participates by performing the actions printed on the cards, such as “roll over” or “wave goodbye.” These games teach your dog manners and tricks while spending quality time with the owner.
Hide and Seek. Can be “find the treat” or “find the toy” or “find the human”.
Indoor Rally Course. This requires the dog to be familiar with basic obedience exercise.
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