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Dogs who do not receive enough exercise are more likely to act inappropriately. Bad habits include leaping on humans, biting things that aren’t meant to be chewed, digging holes, clawing, and barking or whining too much.

There are a few things you can do to make sure that your dog is exercised enough on a daily basis so that he or she is too worn out to act inappropriately. When you don’t feel up to taking your dog on regular walks, here are four alternatives you may try to assist your dog in burning off extra energy. 

 

Play games with your dogs

There are many different games you can play with your dog at home. One of our favorites is scent work. You can assist your dog to hone in on their inherent abilities by playing nose work games with them, and it’s also a simple method to keep them engaged. 

 

Nose work: In order to begin the game, you will need to ensure that your dog remains in the specified place. While he is watching you, walk to the other end of the room and put some food or his favorite toy there for him to find.  Before your dog starts looking for a hidden snack, you will create an association between certain words or phrases and behaviors that remind the dog of the food or a treat. Tell your dog to “find it” or “search” when you are ready to free him from his confinement. Be sure to praise your dog after each successful search round to reinforce the “search!” in his mind.  After a few demonstrations, he will be aware of what is expected of him.

 

You may go on to more difficult exercises after it seems that your dog understands the “find it” command. While your dog is in the remaining posture, move the reward or toy out of his line of sight so that you may retrieve it later.

 

During this particular search activity, the goal is to progressively expand to new places and distances as you go. When you are just getting started, it is best to confine the game to one or two rooms. If you are certain that your dog understands the “find it” command, it is time to go on to the next level, which consists of hiding objects about the home.

 

The following are some of the advantages of training your dog nose work:

 

  • Dogs like doing nose work since it’s both entertaining and rewarding.
  • Enjoyable activity that will provide your dog with increased brain stimulation
  • Building your dog’s confidence via nose work
  • Provides your dog with more opportunities for physical stimulation
  • It provides your dog with healthy activities to engage in.
  • Simple activities that can help you form a stronger relationship with your dog

 

Involve other owners and their dogstwo dogs playing in a field, one dog with tongue hanging out and the other prancing

Many dogs love to be in the company of other dogs and play with them (as long as they get along). They chase each other, jump, wrestle, and, in general, exhaust each other. Organize regular meetings with other owners or set up a regular date at the park to expand your dog’s circle of friends (and yours too). Just make sure that you follow the safety and etiquette rules for  your dog park.

 

Have your dog play in the grass

If you have a garden or park near your home, replace the dog walk with a play session. Most dogs love to play fetch, so why not start to fetch training? A ball launcher can make the game more fun for your dog and less tiring for you, as it allows you to shoot the ball much farther with almost no effort, much to the delight of your dog (and your arms).

 

Agility Dog Equipment is another way to get your dog to exercise and mentally stimulate him. You can build a path using objects you find at home, in the garage, or in DIY stores: an old hula hoop can become a ring to jump into, plastic pipes can be assembled to become obstacles, while pallets can be transformed into ramps or platforms. You can also purchase tunnels, plastic cones, or other gear at pet stores to complete your route. Many dogs, like the White husky, will definitely enjoy playing on the grass. 

 

Teach new commands

What commands does your dog know? 

“Sit” is one of the most fundamental commands to teach your dog, teaching them to sit is a terrific starting point. Dogs who aren’t taught the “Sit” command are going to be much more difficult to handle and will have a more restless demeanor than dogs that do know this easy order. In addition, teaching your dog the “Sit” command will prepare them for more difficult commands such as “Stay” and “Come.”  

 

The word “come” is another vital command for you to teach your dog and should be practiced often. This order is especially useful for those occasions if you find yourself unable to maintain your grasp on the leash. It can be taught easily and will be of great use in preventing mischief with your dog.

 

“Stay” is a command that is very helpful in preventing your dog from putting himself in harm’s way. With the command “stay” you can train your dog to ignore one object in exchange for a higher reward which is essential.

 

In conclusion

Walking your dog is great exercise and bonding for both of you, but it can be monotonous and occasionally it is good to get out of the usual routine. Sometimes , you might not be free to go for a walk or you need an alternative to get your dog exercise without going for a walk, I hope you find the tips in this article helpful.

Guest Author: Pet expert Emma has spent 12 years following her passion for animals as a writer and editor in the pet industry. Her expertise includes dog and cat health, care, nutrition, feeding, grooming, behavior, and training.

 

goldendoodle standing with front fee in a metal tub full of water, licking water off nose, playing in water tub, enjoying cooling offMemorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of summer for many people. Now that we are getting close to warmer weather, you need to consider how to entertain your pet during the “dog days of summer.” This week’s blog post will give you some great ideas for keeping your pet entertained and cool at the same time – with water! Keep reading to learn about some great water games to play with your pets. At the end we’ve listed a few awesome spots to take your pups for a wet and wild outing!

Swimming

Not all dogs enjoy swimming. Not all dogs even like water. While swimming and water play are great ways to wear your dog out without letting them overheat, do not force your pup into the water. Take some time this summer to teach them to enjoy water, whether it’s splashing or swimming but if they are resistant, find another way to entertain and wear your pup out that doesn’t add stress. Training your pup to be a swimmer doesn’t happen overnight. Like any new skill, swimming takes preparation and practice but can give lifelong benefits. Follow the tips below provided by Fear Free Pets to get your pup comfortable with being in or near the water.

  • Start on dry land. Use a kiddie pool filled with 1-2 inches of water and play with your pet around and near it. Once they are comfortable with the pool, toss the toys into it for your pup to go “bobbing for toys.” Allow them to hop in and out of the pool many times so they get used to splashing and being wet.
  • Head to a pool or lake. Put your dog on a leash and walk into a shallow section of the water with your pup. Walk in and out several times so they learn that they can get out of the water whenever they are not comfortable or feeling overwhelmed. Use lots of verbal praise and a positive voice to encourage confidence in your pup. You can provide treats as your pup continues to walk next to you into the water, or toss a toy slightly ahead of your pup if he/she enjoys retrieving.
  • Back your dog in. If your pup is nervous or if he/she has had a bad experience with water they may feel more comfortable backing into the water rather than going face first. In this case, start by teaching your dog how to back up on land before attempting it in the water. Always allow your dog to decide whether they’d like to participate or not.
  • Go deeper. Once a puppy or dog becomes comfortable with being wet and splashing in the kiddie pool and shallow section, it’s time to ease them into swimming. This stage requires constant supervision for all dogs! Always use a life jacket on your pup, especially on their first few attempts, both for safety and for their comfort. Calmly and slowly introduce your pet to deeper water and encourage them to begin to lift their feet up and paddle.
  • Provide support. Many dogs will lift their hind legs first while keeping their front legs planted, but will not paddle with the hind legs initially. Keep your hands under their belly for support and if they become scared at any point bring them back to land or shallower water where they can stand. Continue to encourage them to paddle with all four legs. If your dog only uses the front legs to paddle they will quickly become tired. Keep the first full-body swim lesson short so as not to overtire or overwhelm your pup.
  • Provide a role model. Other dogs who are confident swimmers may help you encourage your dog to spread his wings, or webbed feet as the case may be! If you don’t have another dog who likes to swim, try looking into group classes with an instructor.
  • End on a good note. When water training your dog, just like with all training, it’s important to end on a good note, with something that your pet does well, to build their confidence. Even if your pup only gets his feet wet that first attempt, end with one of their favorite tricks near the water and give them a big reward. Make water a good association!
  • Safety considerations: once your pup becomes a swimmer, be sure to follow these safety instructions to keep your pup safe.
    • Check local health department warnings about toxic algae or high levels of E.coli bacteria in lakes you may be visiting.
    • Make sure currents are not running too swiftly (especially during spring when there could be snow melt and runoff) in rivers or riptides too strong in oceans.
    • Keep an eye out for submerged hazards like boulders, stumps, or manmade obstructions.
    • Always carry a canine life jacket on your boat when you bring your dog out.
    • Never toss your dog over the side of the boat or pool, they could drown.

Water Games

Easy games

  • Bobbing for toys or ice cubes – dump some toys that float (or those that don’t) into the pool. If that doesn’t float your pup’s boat, try dumping some ice cubes or carrot sticks into the water and watch your pup chase them around, it’s a guaranteed belly laugh!
  • Ice bucket challenge – no this isn’t what you think! Take a small bucket and fill it about 1/2-2/3 full (you can add a small amount of low sodium chicken broth for flavor). Toss in treats, baby carrrots, cut up fruit, whatever your dog may like and freeze overnight. Then pop the giant ice cube out of the bucket and let your pup lick away to get to the tasty treats!
  • Pool fetch – for pups that enjoy swimming, toss bumpers or something that floats across the pool or into the lake so that they must swim out to get it
  • Raft rides – if you have a pool, consider buying your pup a raft (designed to withstand dog nails) to join you in relaxing on the water
  • Sprinkler play – set up your sprinkler and let your pup bounce and splash through it, or in the case of my pup, attack the water fiercely and soak her face. If you don’t have a sprinkler you can use a hose or even a larger water gun (just be sure not to spray your dog in the face)!
  • Boating – a day on the lake can involve your four legged friend, and be more fun as a result! Just make sure your dog is comfortable around water and that you have a canine life jacket in the boat. For more of a workout for you, try canoeing or kayaking with your pup!

More skill required

  • Keep away – requires 2 people, stand on either side of a pool or a certain distance in a lake and toss a toy between you so your pup must swim back and forth. Make sure your pup gets the toy frequently so he stays engaged and keep an eye on his energy level. You don’t want to overtire your pup in the water!
  • Catch me if you can – teach your pup a “catch me” or “get me” command and once they know it, use it in the water to get them to swim along behind you (you might be swimming or walking along the pool)
  • Toy diving – For pups that don’t mind submerging their faces, you may find a toy that will sink to the bottom for them to swim down and fetch. Be sure your pool/lake isn’t too deep and the pup can see where the toy goes. You don’t want them under for too long! (To teach this, begin in shallow water where you dog can just reach down to get the toy, then slowly work toward deeper water where your dog must actually dive)
  • Water hoops – there’s a land game where you teach your pup to jump through a hula hoop. If you already have that mastered try bringing the hoop into the water and hold it partially submerged for your pup to swim through or fully submerged for your pup to dive through! If your pup enjoys jumping into the water to fetch, you can incorporate a hoop into that exercise as well.

Water Sports

  • Dock diving – dogs chase a bumper (floating toy) that is thrown off a simulated dock, awards go to the dog who jumps the farthest
  • Surfing – make sure you are an experienced surfer and put a life jacket on your pup. Check out Tillman the surfing skateboarding bulldog for a good chuckle!
  • Paddle boarding – stand-up paddle boarding can be a blast with your pup, but make sure that you are an experienced paddle boarder and always put a life jacket on your pup

Regardless of what you and your pup choose to do, make sure your follow any rules and restrictions, bring plenty of fresh water (you don’t want them drinking lake or pool water!), and rinse them clean after swim time.

Pools, Lakes, and Beaches – oh my!

Check out the links below for some fantastic water fun for your pups in the Twin Cities and surrounding area this summer:

  • For the Love of Dogsa training facility in Mendota Heights that offers dock diving classes, open swim, and private swimming lessons
  • Woof Dah!a daycare and boarding facility in Burnsville with an outdoor splash pad and an indoor swimming pool
  • The Paw: a daycare and boarding facility in Mankato that offers private swim, open swim, and pool parties
  • Channel 4: has a list of the best places to let your pup swim in Minnesota
  • Sidewalk Dogthe ultimate site for fun things to do with your pup in the Twin Cities; check out their list of summer fun for great parks to let your dog swim

 

Note: There are some dogs that should not swim. Some toy breeds, Greyhounds, Pugs, Bulldogs, and Dachshunds are more likely to sink than float. If they do go near the water make sure they have a life vest on. Puppies under the age of 3 months and hairless dogs should not be submerged fully (they can splash around in shallows) because they cannot regulate their body temperature and are at risk for hypothermia.

Now is the time to strengthen your bond with your pets and help them stimulate their minds and exercise their bodies. Let them live their best lives and you can live vicariously through your pet. Go ahead, we won’t judge!

Social distancing has forced us all to slow down and remain more isolated. How many of you are just waiting for the day when you can resume your normal routine? Most people aren’t enjoying the current quarantine, but our pets are loving this time with you! two cats playing, cat toys, cat enrichment gamesThey are happy to have you home to play and snuggle with all day. They enjoy “contributing” to your video meetings, bringing you every toy they own, and showing you the best windows from which to watch the world go by. They are loving all of the one on one time with you. But you are growing sick of the same old squeaky toys and slimy tug ropes. You don’t want to sit next to your pet and stare out the window together at a squirrel. What to do?

Here are some top tips for enriching your pet’s life during quarantine:

1. Make mealtime fun!

Your pup or kitty might live for mealtimes, but giving them the same food in the same bowl day after day leaves a lot of room for new opportunities. Try giving your pet their dinner in a puzzle toy or treat dispenser so they have to work for their food. There are plenty of great puzzle toys out there but many of our clients love the Nina Ottosson puzzles or West Paw treat dispensers. To increase the difficulty let them go on a scent hunt around the house or in the backyard. Your pet has to search out his/her kibble under the dresser, behind the sofa, or on the corner of the stairs. To switch it up, try putting pieces of their kibble in cardboard boxes and move them around so they have to sniff out the correct box like the ASPCA does for scent enrichment.

Veterinarians contributing to PetMD suggest that hunting is a great way for your feline friend to satisfy their natural instincts while staying active to keep extra weight off. You can use cat treat toys or puzzles to get their minds engaged with their meal. For the low cost version, try cutting some holes in a shoebox and tossing their treats or kibble in there.

2. What’s that smell?

Speaking of scent enrichment, it’s a great way to entertain your pet (and you)! Modern Dog Magazine has a lot of good ideas for scent games and scent training with your pup, but you can also play with your kitty if she’s willing. Your cat may be more interested in “hunting” her scents, for a reward of course. But if your pup likes to use her sniffer then some of these games, like “Pick the Hand,” “Shell Game,” or “Scent Trails” with a favorite ball will go over very well with your four legged friend.

3. Brain Games

Let’s face it. Your pet is never going to be Albert Einstein. But dogs and cats need mental stimulation as much as physical exertion to stay fit and healthy. There are plenty of brain games to offer to your pet to see which sparks their interest. For cats, toys that encourage their predatory instincts to stalk, chase, and bite are very rewarding. But try to add in an additional piece of problem solving to the play by utilizing vertical space for stalking and incorporating puzzle toys or remote control mice.

Dogs enjoy a wide variety of games, so try out these or come up with your own! Fear Free Pets suggests setting up an indoor obstacle course for your pet to take on. Set up boards to walk across, ladders (closed and on the floor) to step over, boxes to sit on or crawl through, yoga mats to lie on, and much more. You can also try hide and seek! Let your dog search for his/her favorite thing – you! Have your dog sit and stay (or have a family member hold him/her) and then go into another room to hide. The better your dog gets the more creative you can get with the hiding spot, but don’t make it too hard at the beginning. When you’ve hidden call your release word and wait for your pup to find you. Make sure you give plenty of praise when they do!

4. Tricks

Many of our pets can “shake” and maybe “roll over” on command. We’ve all heard of those basic tricks. But now that you have plenty of time at home how about spicing up your trick routine? Trick training is a great way to stimulate your dog’s brain while strengthening your bond. Be sure to train in increments of 10-15 minutes at a time and break more intricate tricks down into smaller parts to learn. If your pup only knows “shake” don’t expect him to immediately understand a complete trick routine. Stick with easier tricks initially until you both can work up to the more difficult tricks. Dogster.com has some great recommendations for fun tricks of varying difficulties. Why not teach your dog to “spin” or “high five?” For those more advanced tricksters try “make a wish” or “bow.” Domorewithyourdog.com has some great trick training ideas and even offers some free Facebook classes to help with learning how to trick train.

Cats can be trained too, but make sure you are using positive reinforcement! Many cats respond well to clicker training and targeting. Samantha Martin, the director of Amazing Acro-Cats, has clicker trained all of her rescue cats to perform tricks. You can try to teach your kitty “high five,” “go to bed,” or “come.”

Don’t forget to also brush up on your pet’s obedience and social skills. When you can go back out into the world, having solid obedience skills and critical thinking abilities in social settings can make spending time with your friends and family easier and more relaxing for both you and your pet. Being able walk on a loose leash, sit and stay, interact politely with other humans or dogs, and relax on a patio are all great skills for your pup to have in the larger world. The American Kennel Club, PetMD, and Your Dog Advisor have some good tips on obedience training or contact a local trainer for ideas on how to begin or brush up on obedience training during quarantine.

5. Treats

Got bored kids as well as bored pets? Now is a great time to get your kids involved in caring for your pets. They may be able to help with some of the training or the games of hide and seek if they’re old enough, but what to do after that? There are plenty of DIY pet toys and homemade treats that you and your family can create to the everlasting joy of your pet (or at least until they’ve eaten or destroyed it)! Fear Free Pets offers some designs for creating a catnip toy out of a sock or a dangly toy they can bat at or chase. Dr. Marty Becker suggests adding feathers to a string for a “real” bird feel or cutting holes in a box to play “whack-a-mole” with a hot dog (if your pup is on a diet try a carrot instead of a hot dog).

Besides DIY toys, there are lots of recipes for homemade treats like the Marvelous Mutt Meatball, “Love My Puppy” peanut butter treats, Biscuit the Dog’s PB Banana treats, and more. For those non-bakers, freezing a Kong with peanut butter, plain yogurt, or pumpkin is a great treat for your pup. Add some kibble, banana, or blueberries for an interesting twist. Try the Paw-psicle from Animal Humane Society for your kitties. Mix hot water and tuna fish together and pour into a kitty sized container (like an ice tray or something smaller) and freeze.

6. Calling All Pet Models

Photographer Peter Scott Barta has some great suggestions for getting epic pet shots that could get you found as America’s Next Top Pet Model (it’s not a thing, but shouldn’t it be?). Try using a squeaky toy to get that focused look directly at your camera. For some fun you can put peanut butter on the roof of your pup’s mouth. Time for #tongueouttuesday! The Canine Journal also suggests getting down to their level when taking photos or photographing your pet with other family members, four legged, two legged, or stuffed. Some people have entertained themselves and their followers by dressing up their pets, but make sure your pet is having fun too! Don’t be shy about using those tasty bribes when trying out new costumes for your furry friend. If video is more your style, try fun shots with the slo-mo function on your phone or camera. Blowing bubbles at your pet or playing peekaboo can get some very funny shots!

7. Create a Zen Space

After all of that fun your pet may be wiped out. Consider creating a space just for him/her to relax in. The Animal Humane Society recommends finding an out of the way space in your home like under the stairs or in an unused corner to place a comfy bed, some blankets, and a few soft and hard toys for your pet to interact with. Dr Kayla Whitfield reminds readers that it is important for cats to have vertical space, especially when there are young kids or other pets in the house. Set up cat trees or cat shelves so they can hide above eye level in safety and comfort. Those cat trees and shelves can double as a play space for when they’re feeling feisty, but make sure if you have elderly cats that you give them easy access to those elevated places. Even cardboard boxes and cat gates to block off certain “cat only” areas can help your kitty feel more comfortable in their space and give them a special retreat. If your pet would rather relax close to you, think about putting a dog bed next to your desk (or wherever your home office might be) or dragging an extra chair close to you for your cat to feel like she can stay close while having her own space.

Check out what cutie pie Dundie the Doodle and his family have up their sleeve to combat their quarantine blues.

Now is a perfect time for this post because April is National Canine Fitness Month. Just be sure to keep an eye on how many treats you’re feeding your pet and take it out of their total calories for the day so they don’t gain weight with all this fun. So go ahead. Get your pup (or your kitty) started on a fun new routine to help them stay sane and in shape! What are you waiting for?