Want to be your dog’s favorite person in the house? Start getting outside with your canine companion, and watch your status climb up the totem pole. Walking your dog is a great bonding and trust activity, especially when it becomes a daily routine you do together. Most dogs don’t get enough exercise on their own in your backyard, so walks are important for their overall health.
Even if you are lucky enough to have some green space at home, your lawn does not provide the diverse sensory stimulation that dogs crave and rely on for physical and mental well-being. A lot of naughty habits that dogs develop—from chewing to digging to excessive barking—are a result of boredom. Going on walks and getting your dog’s energy out not only helps curb these issues but means your pup will be much happier, too.
But what about when a rainy spring threatens your ability to tackle that long walk or you find yourself having a particularly busy day? Ensuring your dog gets enough exercise—both physical and mental—when the factors aren’t quite right can be challenging, but not impossible. Here’s how to make it happen.
High Impact Games
A 5-10 minute game of fetch or frisbee in the morning, with lots of running back and forth, should help your dog expend a large amount of energy and will tire them out for a while.
No Humans Required
There are many products on the market that allow your dog to get active all by herself. Look for automatic ball launchers that can be loaded up with multiple balls to keep the entertainment going for a while.
Follow Your Nose
Scent work is one of the best ways to tire a dog out, and requires just a few hours to learn the basics (visit the National Association of Canine Scent Work, nacsw.net, to find a class). Once your dog knows what’s expected, you can play a few scent games before you head out the door, or better yet make it a daily ritual you can both enjoy.
Use That Noodle
Puzzles are a great way to keep your dog’s mind active. Most involve using treats to reward and encourage canines to think about ways to move, flip, or roll a toy in order to release the cookie or kibble inside. A challenging puzzle can keep a dog engaged for hours.
Prolong the Goodness
Filling a solid rubber toy with peanut butter, plain yogurt, chicken broth, treats, or kibble and then freezing it can keep your pet entertained and enthralled for a while. It appeals to their taste buds and is a healthy way to keep your dog active and busy.
It Takes a Village
Nothing beats personal interaction and attention. When you must leave your dog alone on a regular basis for extended periods of time, it’s best to hire a dog walker to check in on your pet, or drop your canine companion off at a doggie daycare where he can be sure to run, play, and romp all day. Most dogs return home completely wiped out, ready for some quality time with you lounging on the couch.