Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rainy Days

If you live anywhere near Richmond, VA you're probably up to your knees in water.  Well, maybe not your knees, but at least your ankles.  Your days at work are spent in a near-comatose state where all you want to do is curl up and sleep and maybe read a good book.  When you come home, however, instead of being greeted by your comfy slippers and robe, you're greeted by a furry ball of energy.  Your dog has missed his walk for the past three days due to weather, and he's ready to go insane!  He's starting to exhibit some of his frustration by chewing or jumping or running in circles, and you have no idea what to do.  How can you give your dog some exercise without getting wet?  Well, here are some suggestions:

Sometimes a good training session can exhaust your dog mentally enough that he'll forget the physical stuff for a little while.  So, clear a little space in your living room and get to work!  Practice sits and downs and stays.  Work on your heel.  Really make things difficult by throwing in some distractions.  Take this time to work on your dog's obedience, so once things clear up outside you'll have a star student.

Obedience training isn't the only thing you can work on, though.  Try doing some fun stuff, too.  Can your dog do any tricks?  Run to Barnes & Noble (or your library), get a book (or DVD) on trick training, and try your stuff.  Some easy ones might be shake hands, roll over, or beg, but who knows how far you could go.  You may even be able to teach your dog to army crawl, pray, and roll himself up in a blanket!

Lastly, you could use this time to work on a whole new field of training.  Do you think your dog might be great at agility or tracking or Rally-O?  Well, now's your time to try it out.  Again, go to your local book store or library, see what you can learn, and try a few easy things.  You can makes jumps out of a broom and chairs, you can use your coffee table for a standing table, and you can use that tunnel for your kids as a tunnel for your dogs.  Keep it simple with these, though.  For harder things, you may want to consult an expert.

Play Games
Do you know what my favorite rainy day game is?  Hide and seek!  Generally, Hans will hide with a treat while I hold onto Cody.  Then I'll say, "Where's Daddy?" and laugh at Cody while he tears through the house looking for Hans.  Once he's found Hans, he gets snuggles and a treat, and we do it all over again.  Alternatively, you could just hide a treat and get him to find that.  OR, if you're really motivated you could try to teach him to find your keys, so you have someone helping you when you're in a rush.

Hide and seek isn't the only game out there, though.  There's also indoor fetch (your dog chases a ball down a long hallway) or reverse fetch.  Reverse fetch is a game that Cody created where he hides his ball under a sofa or some other location where he can get it back.  Then he barks at it until I get it for him.  It's not my strongest recommendation, but it can be useful in times of need.

Also, try giving your dog some puzzle toys to play with.  The simplest and most common puzzle toy is a Kong, but there are plenty of others out there.  My dogs like the really hard ones, and have taken to taking their toys to the top of the steps and rolling them down so that treats bounce out along the way.  This kills two birds with one stone, because the dogs get exercise by running up and down the stairs.  So, VICTORY!

Are those suggestions just not working for you?  Well, try your local doggy daycare.  A lot of these places have an indoor area for dogs to play, and they're more than happy to help tire out your dog.  Many even have a half day option if you just want to try it out for a few hours.  Bonus: It's a great way for your dog to make new doggy friends.

Get Wet
Of course, there's always one, last option, and that's to simply get wet.  Sometimes a run in the rain can be exhilarating for you and easier on your dog.  Through a normal summer, when temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, those rainy days can provide a much-needed respite for the heat.  You an run a little farther and play a little longer because your dog won't overheat.  Just be prepared for a little extra cleanup when you're done.

So, you see?  There's plenty of fun things for you to do with your dog during a rainy day.  Don't let the weather get you down.  Just get creative, and you'll find a plethora of activities!