Even though they can’t tell you themselves… what dogs really want are boundaries, limitations and rules. And if you want a good relationship with your dog you want to make sure to give him those things. But before you give them what they want, you need to focus on what they need; exercise, discipline and affection.
Exercise truly is one of the most important factors to creating a healthy relationship with your dog. But how do you make time for your dog’s exercise if you struggle with your own exercise routine? There are unlimited excuses we can use. In the winter it can be too cold outside; in the summer it can be too hot outside. Truth be known, both these conditions can be dangerous for exercising so there is some validity to these excuses, sort of. Of course you still have rain, snow, wind… then you have the time issue. I barley have time to fit in a trip to the grocery store and I haven’t been able to make time to get my hair cut now for weeks. How on earth am I supposed to make time for a daily exercise routine for my mutt?
If you can’t make the time for outdoor exercise every day, at least make the time for some indoor activity. An active dog and an active mind makes for a much more content dog. The more content the dog the fewer chances of undesirable behavior and less stress being associated with pet ownership. Have a look at some of these suggestions and see which ones you can incorporate into your daily morning or evening routines.
1. Stairs offer a great option for your dog. If you have an indoor staircase take advantage of it by utilizing it to provide your dog with a challenge that typical walking doesn’t offer. We all know how climbing a flight of stairs uses some of the muscles walking does not. If your dog plays fetch, incorporate a game a fetch into the stairs. Stand at the top of the stairs and toss your pet’s favorite toy down the stairs and encourage them to retrieve the toy. A few quick rounds of this will have your dog tuckered out in no time.
2. Arrange your furniture to provide a running path. I know that sounds a little odd, but think about it for a moment. If you can arrange your furniture so that in your most commonly used room you can provide a clear path that during a game of fetch will provide a straight shot for running, you can adequately play fetch inside and minimize the risk of breaking delicate household items. This is a very popular option for smaller dogs who do not require as extensive of an exercise program as larger dogs. When possible find a way to incorporate that pathway into the path of a hallway to make it even longer.
3. Setting up an obstacle course can provide both physical and mental challenges for your dog. Larger dogs may benefit more from an obstacle course if you can’t provide a path for running. Use old hula hoops to provide an obstacle for jumping through. Large pillows or cushions can create a tunnel for him to navigate through. Boxes can also be useful. You may not be able to leave the course up all the time, but if you can quickly grab and rearrange things within the room, it’s a great option for indoor activity. Map everything out and lead the dog through the obstacles. Come up with a few different setups to add a little variety throughout the week.
4. Of course a common indoor game is keep away. When you have more than two people available you can toss the dogs favorite toy between yourselves providing an engaging game of keep away. You can also incorporate this game into any of the others. For instance, sitting at either end of the staircase. Or either end of a clear straight running path. You can even add a few obstacles for jumping over to increase the activity.
Plan ahead and think about what you can do. Set up a routine with some variety in it and you can successfully provide enough indoor activity to keep your dog active, engaged and mentally stimulated. A side effect of this will most likely include some discipline and a lot of affection. Once you get into the routine as well, you can let go of the guilt for not getting the pooch out and about as often you would like. And if you have children in the house it helps teach the importance of responsible pet ownership.