Sometimes the weather makes it hard for us to enjoy outdoor adventures with our canine companions. While the Transpaw Gear Happy Harness is a unique dog harness that is comfortable and easy to clean – even if your dog goes head to head with a mud puddle – there are days when no one wants to be outdoors. If circumstances are keeping you holed up in your house, here are some ideas to keep you and your dog from getting cabin fever.
- Nose games: Dogs love to use their noses! They smell things the way we see colors. Your dog doesn’t need to be part of a search and rescue team to enjoy honing their skills at finding things using their noses. Grab some delicious treats and hide them for your dog to find. The first few “hides” should be very easy: Stand right next to your dog, show them the treat, and place it just a few feet away, then cue “find it!” and let your dog eat the treat. As their skills develop, your hides can get a little tougher: You can put the treat behind the leg of a chair or just around a corner out of sight, for example, or start hiding within the dog’s sightline but a bit farther away. Don’t make it too hard too soon! You want your dog to be able to have success early so they stay motivated to play the game. If your dog is enthusiastic about a particular toy, you can hide that instead of treats.
- Tug of war: Contrary to what some folks say, playing tug with your dog won’t make them aggressive or encourage them to tug on everything in sight. When played correctly, it’s quite the opposite! Tug can improve impulse control and strengthen the bond between you and your pup. If your dog is wild about tug, you’ll want to work on two important cues: drop it and take it. This will give you the ability to start and stop the game, teaching your dog a little self-control and boundaries, while lowering the risk of mayhem. Dogs who don’t show much interest in tugging can be encourage to play in a few ways. First, make the toy look like a prey animal, by moving it erratically and away from your dog, not toward them. Second, there are toys that can have food stuffed into them to increase the dog’s interest. Finally, some dogs are just too polite to put their mouths on something their human is holding. A flirt pole, essentially a toy on the end of a rod and string (it looks a bit like a fishing pole) can help with this.
- Interactive toys: Dogs like working for their food! Rather than just putting it in a bowl and letting them go to town, consider stuffing a hollow toy with their dinner instead, and letting them roll or chew the food out. There are many high-quality toys available for this activity. If you want to make this an even more special treat, mix something extra-delicious like peanut butter, spray cheese, or canned food in with the dry food, stuff it into a hollow toy, and freeze it. Your dog will have a wonderful time getting the goodies out, and will burn off some energy while they’re at it.
- New tricks and skills: Learning is tiring for any species! Working on new tricks with your dog is a great way to keep them busy when the weather is lousy. If your dog already has a good handle on the basics, turn to silly tricks like spin, rollover, play dead, or anything else you can think of. Maybe you want your dog to weave around and between your legs in a figure 8, “army crawl” under a chair, take a bow, or wave hello. The internet is chock-full of creative tricks you can work on with your pup.
So, if you woke up this morning keen on having a wonderful outdoor adventure but Mother Nature didn’t comply, you’ve still got plenty of options. Happy (indoor) adventuring!