Every dog owner loves a day spent with their furry friend. Doing fun dog activities together is a great way to strengthen your bond, boost your own health and make you both happier!
Most of us regularly turn towards dog activities like neighborhood walks or games of fetch. But how can you keep things interesting for you and Fido? We can all use a little inspiration to switch it up from time to time, especially when it’s pouring rain, freezing cold, or unbearably hot.
Meeting your dog’s physical exercise needs and giving them adequate mental stimulation is also essential to keep unwanted dog behaviors at bay. The more dog activities you’ve got in your tool belt the better!
Read on for some great ideas to switch up your daily routine and add a little spice into your one-on-one time with your canine on days when you’re stuck inside.
Indoor dog activities & dog activities for rainy days
I know that as an owner to three large dogs, the most challenging days are the ones where the weather just isn’t cooperative for outdoor fun. In most cases, we pile on the gear or adapt our schedule to get outside regardless of what mother nature has in store, but it’s usually more short-lived than on the nice days.
And I know all too well what a day without proper exercise means—a day with a super wiggly, needy, and often naughty dog(s) on my hands. While indoor dog activities, especially for large breed dogs, can’t take the place of a good exercise session, they can definitely help!
Here are some you can try:
1. Hide and seek
This is one of the most popular indoor dog activities with my pack. We often play with tennis balls because my Lab and German Shepherd love them, but for dogs that need a little more motivation to get going, use treats. The game does rely on a sit and stay command, but you can crate your dog while you hide the goods if necessary.
If you’re just starting out, let them see you hide the item until they get the hang of the game. Then you can up the challenge. Sometimes we get really into it and play on all three floors of our house. The dogs have a blast using their nose and brainpower to find the hidden item! The stairs add in some physical exercise, too
2. Work for their food
If you know your dog isn’t going to get much in the way of physical exercise, you can keep their mental stimulation at peak for most of the day by making them work for their food. It takes some commitment on your part but is a great way to reinforce desired behavior and keep our dog happy.
Start the day by feeding them half of their breakfast in their bowl and putting the other half in a treat pouch or cup. Throughout the next 2-3 hours, let them earn their food by rewarding expected behavior, intentional obedience training, working on new tricks, or games of hide and seek.
3. Learn a new trick
Mental stimulation and engaging with your dog without distraction are the key to indoor dog activities. Dedicating some time to teaching your dog a new trick is a great way to achieve this. I often turn to YouTube for training advice and to figure out the exact steps to take when teaching a new skill.
For success, keep the training sessions relatively short but do them regularly throughout your day indoors.
4. Utilize the stairs if you have them
I already mentioned this briefly in idea one to play hide and seek, but your stairs are a great tool for tiring out your dog.
- You can play fetch down the stairs
- Work on sit and stay, and then coming when called at the top and bottom of the stairs
- Use two people to call your dog between two (or three floors)
- Play hide and seek on multiple floors
5. Head out to a store
Getting out for a car ride and stroll around a store is a great source of mental stimulation for your dog. You can head to your local pet store, or another dog friendly location.
Home Depot and other hardware stores are often dog friendly. The bank drive through (if you need to go anyway) is super popular with my husky where she always gets a treat :)
6. Pull out a special toy or treat
Rotating your dog’s toys, or keeping a few extra special toys hidden and pulling them out on rainy days is a great way to keep a toy exciting and fresh. Having a few special toys to pull out when you’re stuck inside can go a long way.
We often keep some marrow bones in our freezer to pull out on days when our dogs are extra wiggly. It’s also a great time to spice up a hollow toy by filling it with some peanut butter, dog treats, or another mixture of human food that’s safe for dogs.
7. Look into indoor dog parks in your area
More and more indoor dog parks are popping up around the country. Often these places double as doggie daycares and have drop-in hours and meet-ups on the weekends. This is a great way to socialize your dog and give them some serious playtime without being outside.
Some pet stores and other training facilities have spaces for these kinds of indoor meet-ups as well. To find something near you, get your Google on, ask your vet, and call your local pet store for ideas.
Tips for getting outside with your dog in inclement weather
If you’ve got a big dog, you know the importance of outdoor dog activities and exercise. Skipping a day outside here and there and utilizing some of the indoor ideas above is okay—but for everyone’s sanity, you’re going to need to get outside!
Here are some tips for getting outside with your dog when the weather’s not ideal:
- On super-hot days, adjust your schedule to get out first thing in the morning or later in the evening when it’s a bit cooler
- Learn about the risks associated with dogs and heat, and dogs in extreme cold
- On rainy days, set up a drying station before you head out. Have towels right by the door, cover any furniture with sheets if necessary, or gate off an area for Fido to stay until they smell a little less like a, well, wet dog
- For cold weather, invest in a coat for your dog if they have a single or short-fur coat
- If your dog is tolerant of clothing, a raincoat can also keep the mess at bay
- Invest in good gear for yourself! As a dog owner, it’s your job to get outside with your dog regardless of the weather and the right gear makes all the difference. Having a good raincoat and rain boots, warm winter weather gear, and comfortable hot-weather exercise-wear seriously makes all the difference in your own tolerance for spending time outside
- Give yourself extra time if necessary to handle the clean-up or gear up
- Alter your plan a bit. For example, choose a street walk to avoid extreme mud when it’s pouring, or pick a shaded, wooded trail on hot, muggy days
Get creative with your dog activities and keep everyone happy!
Today you learned a number of fun indoor dog activities and the advice you need to make outdoor dog activities more bearable no matter what the elements have in store for you.
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