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5 Ways to Tire Out Your Dog Indoors

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      There are numerous reasons why you and your dog may not be able to go outside. It could be tumultuous weather, poor air quality, or lack of daylight. Whatever the reason, a dog’s needs don’t get put on hold during those times. Different dogs and dog breeds have different exercise needs. Some know their dogs can barely go a few days without a romp around town or a fetch session, let alone the unknown amount of time until outdoor conditions improve. Save your dog’s sanity (and yours, too!) with these helpful tips on replacing that much needed outside time.

 

Puzzle Toys

It’s highly underestimated the amount that mental stimulation can tire out an energetic dog. Puzzle toys are a wonderful and easy way to make your dog’s meals stretch further for their benefit. Different types of interactive toys can have different effects on a dog’s brain. Toys that encouraging foraging like snuffle mats or still objects that require focus like Licki Mats can be relaxing. Others that challenge the dogs mind to get access to the food can increase a dog’s arousal level and should be provided under guidance while the dog learns to use them. Here are some links to toys that we like. Please remember, puzzle toys are meant for use under close supervision only in order to ensure the dog is using the toy correctly.

Kong Wobbler | Outward Hound “Tornado” Puzzle | Snuffle Mat | Kong Replay | Licki Mat

 

Fitness Equipment

These inflatable balance pods have grown immensely in popularity in recent years—and for good reason! Using equipment that requires mental focus and small muscle stabilization will both work a dog’s brain and body. These exercises can not only be a great workout, but can provide the additional benefit of body awareness and confidence. Check out the Fit Paws FITbone® and their accompanying video on how to use it.

Fit Paws FITbone®  | How to Use The FITbone

 

Canine Treadmill

For the dogs who have done it all but need to get their bodies moving even more, there are a variety of treadmill options built specifically for canines. Once a dog is appropriately conditioned to the movement of the treadmill, there’s a world of opportunity even beyond a happy jog. Proper conditioning to get the dog used to the underfoot movement is the critical first step.

 

Clicker Training

Another example of mental exercise that is extremely beneficial during times when physical activity is limited. Maybe you’re pursuing an advanced behavior, or maybe you’d like to see your dog learning a cute trick you saw online. Either way, keeping your dog’s mind active will in turn keep them happier while their time outside is limited. If you need ideas on what to do or how to train behaviors, 101 Dog Tricks is an excellent book with many fun and useful tricks to train.

 

Indoor Arenas 

If all has been attempted and you believe your dog just can’t live without space to run, you may start to look at finding a ventilated indoor arena. A huge benefit to being an IADW student is access to private training room rentals. If you believe you can provide controlled stimulation, you can contact our manager to schedule a time to use our facility.

Our rental information

If you’re not currently a student, you can enroll in our classes now! Taking your dog to your local training center for a class can be one of the most enriching parts of your dog’s life. Depending on the class, it can also be a great work out. Classes that involve a lot of movement such as agility or urban parkour and get their blood moving, while manners or nose work will really challenge their minds. Aside from the benefit of tiring out your dog, you also get to experience furthering your bond.

Look for a class to sign up for here

Hiking Safety

With all the nice weather this summer, hiking and other outdoor activities are common particularly with those who have dogs. Many people understand that a beautiful day can only be made better if you decide to share it with your dog! However, you should make sure your dog is well-behaved to ensure a safe and enjoyable excursion.

There are several things to do before you even head outside with Fido:

# 1. Make sure your destination of choice allows dogs. (Many locations including state and national parks do not!) The Washington Trails Association has a Hike Finder search application (http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/map) that allows you to sift through all the trails in Washington state and filter out certain locations based on distance, elevation, kid- and dog-friendliness, etc.

#2. Prepare your pooch with all the necessities he may need on your hike. While smaller dogs may need more help from you to carry their things, larger dogs can be trained to carry a canine backpack so they will be in charge of their water, any treats, poop bags, first aid kit, etc. The pack can also be filled with heavier materials for the larger dog who just has too much energy in order to make a moderate hike that much harder for him! Just be careful not to overdo it. Dogs need to build up their exercise regimens just like people or they can get injured. Ultimately, they shouldn’t carry more than 10-20% of their body weight in a pack at any given time. In the beginning, it can also be helpful to associate the pack with a treat whenever they’re wearing and ignoring it.

#3. Know your area. Be aware of where your heading. Some locations may have poisonous plants/insects/etc. For the dog who experiences the world through his mouth and wants to eat everything he sees, knowing the most common poisonous plants and berries can be a life saver! It can also be helpful to know basic canine first aid just in case he gets clipped by a sharp stick or some other such minor event.

Now that you’ve prepared you and your pooch well, you can begin the outdoor adventures! Hiking can be a great opportunity to work on training your dog in a different environment. Just be sure to lower expectations a bit for behaviors that have never been practiced while out hiking. A sit in your living room is completely different than a sit in the middle of the forest!

The following are several suggested behaviors to practice while out in the forest:

#1. Recalls. Your living room at home is incredibly familiar to your dog and so is much less likely to distract him compared to the great outdoors. Remember to up the value of the treats or other reinforcement you’re offering in anticipation of his high distractibility! If kibble will do for recall reinforcement at home, don’t expect the same boring kibble to cut it while Fido is surrounded by all the new sounds and smells of the forest. Ultimately, working on recalls in a variety of places will slowly build to a very reliable behavior!

#2. Loose leash walking. Whether you have your dog physically on a leash or not (and make sure you check into the rules for your particular destination), your dog should be expected to walk calmly at your side when asked, even if just for a moment. However, the great many distractions of the forest are so much harder for your pup to ignore than the same old boring street you walk down everyday, so again lower your expectations for what qualifies as a successful behavior. Instead of requiring a calm walking behavior for 100 ft like he can do at home, only ask for 10 ft, or even just a step or two, then release him to enjoy the smells around him. These “life rewards” can even be much more motivating to a dog than the same old chicken treats. If your dog learns to expect more fun investigating the world if he does what you ask first, he won’t expect the fun to end every time you request a behavior from him. (This same idea can be followed with the recall! Once he’s gotten used to a basic recall, try recalling him from a scent he’s really interested in, and once he successfully returns to you, release him back to enjoy the scent again!)

#3. Leave it. Many dogs have a tendency to put many things in their mouth regardless whether they’re edible or not, or even if they’re poisonous. (We’ve all either experienced or heard from others how a dog stole a huge amount of chocolate off the table and immediately got sick, but shortly thereafter tried to steal more food completely forgetting his recent experience!) The leave it cue can be of great benefit for those dogs that like to eat whatever they can find. Starting small by walking several feet away from a bowl with perhaps only the remnants of something that smells good in it, reward them for focusing attention on you instead of on the bowl. When they will consistently look at you instead of straining to get to the yummy smells in the bowl, you can start to add the leave it cue. (Remember not to add the cue until they are reliably looking at the item then ignoring it to look to you; if someone asked you to dance the tango, you’d be pretty lost if they kept demanding “Tango! Tango!” if you had no idea how to do it.) You can slowly build up to walking closer and adding larger and higher value treats to the bowl as long as Fido is consistently responding to your “leave it” cue by looking away from the food. Eventually he should be able to ignore the most tempting of foods or smells by a simple request of “leave it”.

The summer is a great time to develop your relationship with your dog through outdoor activities, just be sure to plan ahead to prevent anything from ruining your day!

 

Dog Training
Sumner, Washington

Located in Sumner, Washington, It's a Dog's World is part of Sumner Veterinary Hospital's three-acre dynamic complex. This 18,000 square foot training center teaches dog owners the most current, science-based dog training techniques and offers classes that include Pet Dog Classes, Obedience Classes, K9 Nose Work® Classes, Agility Classes, and Fun & Fit Classes.

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