Tuesday, December 11, 2012

City Dogs: How to Exercise your Dog When you Can't go Outside

We know how important walks and exercise are for our dogs, though when it gets like this, even they don't want to be outside. This last rainy weekend reminded us of some things we do to keep our pups from going stir-crazy indoors. Though maybe I'm the one who's going stir crazy?

This was always my favorite thing to do with Miss M when we were bachelorettes together. I put her in a sit stay, pick a hiding spot, and yell "Come"! When she finds me she gets a really good treat. The funny thing is our dogs are really bad at finding us, and it's funny to hide behind doors and watch how they can't figure it out. Predictably, Miss M will always immediately go look in the place I was hiding the last time. Maybe she's not so clever?

Dog Puzzles
We had always been curious about dog puzzles, so someone gave us this Nina Ottosson Dog Miracle Interactive Toy. Our puzzle has tiers and you can hide pieces of food under each bit. You can make it harder by interlocking the pieces, or requiring the pups to lift up a piece to get to the food. Mr. B doesn't quite understand and he thinks the idea is to grab each piece and bring it back to his tepee. I think you can probably get the same type of mental stimulation from a food dispensing device.

Mental Games (While Watching the Game!)
We wrote before about how practicing sit-stays on benches and elevated boxes helps them work on willpower and it can be mentally exhausting. At least some of us can 'exercise' while watching afternoon football.

We know our dogs are a bit older and don't have the endless amounts of energy that some other pups have.
We are curious to hear what other people do when you can't go outside. 

PS. One of our friends who loves going outside on walks will be recovering from a double ACL surgery. If you have any ideas about keeping an energetic dog calm and exercised while recovering, let them know here.

Miss M's Scavenger Hunt
How to Fully Exercise your Dog with Shorter Walks
Our Favorite Winter Ritual


jet said...

I love the hide and seek idea. My dogs are all grown up now too but they tend to wear each other out playing tug of war and chasey inside the house. We have quite an open lounge room so they have the space to be silly.

liliana876 said...

We take our girl Sasha (who is a tripawd) swimming at an indoor pool and Tommy comes along as they are the ones who understand the concept of swimming in a pool! The rest of the gang, we play with them in the house: tug of war, with a laser, or something similar to hide and seek. However, with five dogs, we usually are more active with the youngins. Argus and Sasha are both 12; Sasha is super healthy (considering her amputation), but Argus has bad arthritis so activity with him is minimal.

Taylor G said...

When we can tell Mugsy is bored but neither of us (including Mugsy) wants to go outside we will typically play some tug-of-war. We recently got the Kong tug toy which is better than a rope toy because it doesn't fray and leave pieces throughout the house. We har hardwood floors so its pretty funny seeing Mugsy try to pull his hardest only to slide closer. It also gives us a chance to practice "drop it".

I also like playing football and westling with Mugsy. Football consists of him getting wound up (usually by tug of war) and giving him a kong or other toy to put in him mouth and run around the house. My goal is to either pull a Tim Jennings and try to knock the kong out of his mouth or pull a Brian Urlacher and rush to the line of scrimmage (usually our hallway) and try to stop Mugsy from getting by.

Westling is similar to football but in one spot. I'll get on all fours and put a toy right in front of me. Mugsy will try to pounce on it and get the toy while I play defense and try to keep the toy in front of me as long as I can. I'm still surprised at how quickly a puppy can get something when he really wants it. Haha

Lucy-Fur, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

We play hide and seek, although Abby is really good at finding me (even when I'm hiding in the shower). If the weather is really bad (i.e. sleeting or endless rain), I'll pull out the trick book and work on tricks with the girls - and since they WILL NOT be apart I have to try to work with both of them at once, which inevitably wears us all out! When that doesn't work, I'll give them Kongs with frozen yogurt and treats inside - between trying to lick through the frozen yogurt while protecting one's own Kong while simultaneously trying to steal the other Kong, it can be (apparently) quite mentally taxing! :-) Luckily we don't have too many days where we can't go outside!

-Dr. Liz, and not Fiona the dog, who loves going out in ANY weather.

Loren said...

Our pup isn't very active (he's one of those low-key dogs). But when we get cooped up we like to work on new tricks. He's got a pretty good wheelhouse these days. Right now he's learning to balance treats on his nose.
He also enjoys chasing an ice cube or treat that we slide across the hardwood floor.
We also play 'Where's Ian?'. Where we make him sit and stay and then throw a blanket or towel over his head. When we yell 'Where's Ian?' he tries to escape (and then gets lots of pets).

Anonymous said...

This is AWESOME! I do 'find it' with treats but never thought to use myself as the treat. Trying these tonight!

Rebelwerewolf said...

Hide and seek is a great idea! We have one long hallway in our apartment where we like to play fetch. We'll also have the humans stand at opposite ends and alternate calling out "touch".

In our training classes, we've been learning "shaping" with various objects. This seems to tire the dogs out mentally, so I've been considering getting something to work with at home.

Julia said...

ha! We LOVE hide and seek with Lily! She's absolutely terrible at it - we sometimes have to give away our position so she can actually find us!

Sara @ LiteraryLima said...

I like to hide treats around the house, then play "hot or cold" although I'm sure the dogs have no idea what I'm saying. Wrestling's also a favourite for our Pug Roxy, she loves to roughhouse!

Kiira said...

We are fortunate to have a large, carpeted basement. Because there are few places my boys can be off-leash outside anyway, we use the basement for high intensity games on a regular basis. Their favorite, and the most tiring, is chasing the flirt pole. I make sure to enforce 'drop it', 'leave it', 'wait', and 'ok (go)' when using the flirt pole, as outlined on BAD RAP's blog:

Pitlandia Pooch said...

I love the hide an seek idea! Though I do think that Athena would be just like Ms. M and not quite get it =)

We have never tried a treat puzzle like Mr. B is using, but I've always wanted to try one. Our trainer recently sent us a video for this homemade treat puzzle using a muffin tin, tennis balls, and treats:


We haven't tried it yet with Athena only because she would probably be more interested in playing with the tennis balls than getting the treats underneath!

Since we get a TON of rain here in Portland, we often have to find ways to entertain and exercise Athena in the house. We only feed her from food dispensing toys (no food bowl) as a form of mental stimulation. We also do at least one training session per day to practice her commands.

Recently we have been adding some 'nose work' to Athena's rainy day activities. We will put Athena in a down stay and hide food/treats all over the house. We tell Athena to 'find it' and she will go around sniffing for the food. She really likes this game, it keeps her occupied for long periods of time, and using so much nose power really tires her out. We would love to find more scent games like this.

Finally, Athena engages in lots of alone time play and play with us throughout the day. We can give her one of her stuffies and she will play her own game of indoor zoomies with an animal in her mouth. This really tires her out!

Whenever I'm feeling like Athena is getting bored of any of these activities I usually search on Google or Youtube for 'nose work' and 'scent games' and find lots of great ideas!

Anonymous said...

I love your hide and seek idea... I'm going to play this with Boomer and Dottie and see how it goes.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Great ideas. Mom gives us a puzzle and plays keep away and hide n go seek
Benny & Lily

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

These are SUPER timely suggestions-- thank you! I am going to try them today! :)

K-Koira said...

On the ball! Getting a peanut exercise ball of the correct size for your dog, and using it to give them a work out. The tiny adjustments they need to make to maintain balance can really tire them out.

Laura Gabell said...

we live in the city, so space inside is limited. Our saving grace for our high energy foster dogs is a treadmill!

Laura Gabell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danielle said...

I love playing hide and seek with my dog. We usually throw his toy and while he's getting it we hide. It's so funny watching him run back and forth trying to find us.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Hide and seek sounds like fun :) Mom and I play a similar game butt with my rubber monkey called Purpie. She rubberbanded an old measuring cup to his hands. She puts a few treats in it, shows it to me, then I go in a room and she closes the door, then I hear her runnin all over the house - she's hidin Purpie. Then after he's hid, she comes and opens my door and yells FIND PURPIE! and I go racin all over the house until I find him and eat his goodies ;) We do that a few time until I use up enough energy to calm my butt for a bit :) Fun times :)

Waggin at ya,

Unknown said...

It takes Lacy and me 24 minutes to run 3 miles, so that's what we do almost every day once it gets below 55 degrees. She is a very athletic girl so when she starts running, she gets in the zone :) It has to be in the teens or colder for us to skip our run. I also enroll her in an agility class in Jan/Feb to relieve her of boredom. I try to always be aware of my downstairs neighbors (who have a baby), so playing inside is limited, although we do play tug and occasionally fetch :)

Unknown said...

I used to play hide and seek with my granny, mother, and one servant. We really had a gala time back then.

Kopi Luwak

rebecae said...

We keep lots of tennis balls on hand and play fetch for hours. My husband also gets on all four and wrestles with Delilah. She acts like she's playing with a real dog. We also have the kong wobbler and we put some kibble in it. Pup now picks it up like a small kong and carries it around. The vet said she's put on some weight this winter, but who hasn't? It's been a snowy cold winter in New York and I don't blame my gal for wanting to sleep in with mommy and daddy.

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