It’s Cold – Keep Moving!
As I mention often to my clients, one of my favorite training proverbs says, “A tired dog is a well behaved dog.” Conversely, a dog who is bored and bustling with pent up energy is a problem waiting to happen.
Exercising our dogs can be challenging when it’s too cold to get outside for your usual games of fetch, playing at the dog park, or going for a long walk. So here are some ideas we use with our energetic Labrador during the winter.
First, STOP feeding from the bowl. Instead, let your dog work for her food. There are several options you can use to feed your dog that will also offer mental and/or physical exercise. Use her food as rewards for learning/practicing tricks, learning to maneuver an obstacle course between furniture, finding hidden pieces with her nose – all are great for burning off energy.
Mix his kibble with some canned pumpkin, applesauce, or plain Greek yogurt, stuff it into a Kong, freeze it and let him work on it for a meal. This will give him the benefit of chewing as well as working to figure out how to excavate the meal. You can also use other food toys to increase mental stimulation to their meals (food balls, slow bowls, etc.).
Tug-of-war is a great energy burner. Have your dog sit, and reward with permission to grab the toy and play tug. Offer a treat, and when she lets go of the toy, drop it on the ground for her to pick up. Lather, rinse, repeat.
If you have stairs in your home, toss a few kibble pieces down the stairs and have your dog run down to get them. Recall him back upstairs and repeat. He’ll get her full meal and get lots of exercise.
If running the stairs is too vigorous for your dog, try tying a squeaky toy to a string and let her chase it around in a room with some open space. Remember to let her catch the toy frequently, and trade her a treat for the toy. Have her sit to start the game again.
Have a treadmill? Teach your dog to trot on it. Begin with the treadmill off and let him collect treats on the still belt, then add a bit of motion little by little until he is comfortable walking, then trotting. (Give us a call and we can help with training for this!)
Here is Daisy running on her treadmill!
Bottom line – don’t let the colder weather keep you from giving your best friends their much needed exercise!
Bob Ryder, CSAT, PMCT-4 CPDT-KA