A tired dog is a good dog. Unfortunately, winter often makes it difficult to exercise outdoors with your dog. There is plenty you can do indoors to keep your pup zonked out. Plus, many of these exercises have added long-term benefits.
1. Play a Game of Tug.
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation. Tug presents an opportunity to blend the two. Grab your dog's favorite tug toy and get them riled up. After one minute of play stop tugging, but keep holding the toy. Ask your dog to "drop it" and have him sit. When he does, praise him and reward him by continuing the game. Now you're alternating between intense physical exercise and obedience training. And this particular training increases your dog's impulse control, so you'll have greater control of him in high energy situations.
2. Learn a New Trick.
Learning tricks often involves obedience training, which is sure to quickly wear out your dog. "Touch" is an easy trick that can be handy in all kinds of situations. Hold out one hand and ask your dog to touch it. Hold a treat in the other hand behind your back. When your dog nuzzles your open palm, praise and reward him. In challenging situations, such as when he'd rather chase the neighborhood cats, use "touch" to redirect your dog's attention. When your dog masters "touch" try "spin," "roll-over," and "shake."
3. Master the Stay Command.
If your dog is like mine, he wants to be glued to you at all times. The "stay" command allows you to get some distance when you need it, like when the FedEx man needs a signature. Start by having your dog sit, then back away a few steps. If he stays, return to him and reward with a treat. Immediately ask him to stay again, then back up further. When you're done training, release him from the "stay" position by saying "okay". Continue to increase the distance and the time, until you feel comfortable adding other distractions. To go even further with this trick check out the PetSafe® Train n' Praise™ Treat Dispenser.
4. Work That Nose!
Scent is your dog's most acute sense. Play a game of scent search. For instance, have him sit and stay while you hide his favorite toy. Return and release him to go find it. Increase the difficulty by rubbing the toy around the house before hiding it.
5. Play Hide and Seek.
This is a variation of the scent game. Have your dog sit and stay while you go hide. Shout your release command, or have a friend release your dog to come find you. Once he's found you, praise and treat your pup with gusto! Hint: if your dog likes to counter-surf and you're alone, make sure you don't leave out any goodies he can get while you are hidden.
6. Try an Interactive Feeder.
Feeding your dog from a bowl can be a missed opportunity for activity. Make them work for that meal! Challenge your dog with interactive toys such as the Squirrel Dude™, Tug a Jug™, or any other Busy Buddy;® toy. I feed my dogs with the Kibble Nibble™ toy for most meals. Tip: freeze a Kong or Squirrel Dude toy with some peanut butter for a longer-lasting treat.
7. Do Puppy Push-Ups.
Get your dog's blood pumping with the doggy version of push-ups. Have your dog sit, do a down position, and then sit back up. Once your dog is anticipating the behavior add "stand" in between. Start by offering treats after each command. Then, challenge your dog by giving him treats only after sequences. Continue to vary the sequence and add reps between treats.
8. Try Dognition® Puzzles.
Discover more about how your dog thinks, solves problems, and sees the world while playing a variety of fun games! Sign up on Dognition.com for loads of challenges that will keep you both busy throughout the winter months. It's like sudoku for your pup!
9. Go on Indoor Outings.
Take your dog for some schmoozing at pet-friendly shops. New sights, smells, and surroundings provide loads of stimulation for your dog. He'll likely doze off soon after returning home. Also, try doggie-daycare; it's a great place for your dog to socialize and burn off some energy with friends.
10. Attend an Obedience Class.
Brush up on a learned behavior in a new environment, learn some new tricks and socialize your dog all in one go. Obedience training will wear your dog out quickly and give you both lots more to work on at home.