Rainy day activities
by Katie Scott-Dyer // September 2017
Rainy day activities
With all this rain and a dog to entertain, let’s see what ideas we can share to keep our dogs mentally happy.
If you have dog like ours who refuses to walk in the rain (she becomes very upset and will run for home), then having some activities to drain her of some mental energy so she doesn’t become bored or frustrated are essential. And it never hurts to mix up their exercise routines so they don’t become entrenched in routine and can’t adapt when life (or rain) happens.
All my dogs have enjoyed playing indoor games, whether just for enrichment or recovering from surgery or simply when it’s raining. They’ve liked games that involve food, toys and interacting with us, their humans.
Here’s a few of our favourite games:
Cavaletti – Often used in physiotherapy, cavaletti can help boost confidence with footing, offers your dog a chance to concentrate for a few minutes and when combined with their mealtimes, can give your dog another way to earn their food rations! We find dogs can also learn to respond to cues to slow down and is a great way to develop a trust bond with your dog too. We start by placing the poles at their lowest height and turning the cones onto their sides, spacing the poles equal distances apart for correct foot placement and making it easy for your dog the first few times they use the cavaletti. We find that having your dog on lead at first really helps you teach them what you expect of them, without them running through or even jumping the poles hurdles! As they become more accustomed to the cavaletti, you can turn the cones up the right way which increases the height, then you need to space them out according to your dog’s size, there are guides available on the internet to help you choose the right heights and spacing for your individual dogs.
Treasure Hunt – We save egg boxes up to use as a treasure chest, along with food puzzle toys of varying shapes and sizes such as clams, kongs, busy buddies and whatever else we think may work as a food toy. We have been known to boil an egg and insert the whole egg, shell and everything into a loo roll inner and hide this along with the other treasure’s! Then we ask Ren to do a few behaviours while in a stay such as sit, down, bend, head up, chin, touch, high 5, down then give her release cue “break” and let her spend as long as she likes whilst making as much mess as she likes hunting for the treasures around the house or garden! We even get out a play tent and the ball pit for added enrichment, my elderly dog Koda, loves treasure hunts in the tents.
Training – What better excuse for practicing your training with your dog than a rainy day! If they are learning to nudge a ball for Treiball practice, or foot placement for contacts, husbandry procedures or your homework for training classes why not get a training session done while it’s hammering with rain!
Packed Lunch – If your time is short on a rainy day, all is not lost, why not give your dog their dinner in a few boxes for them to forage through? We add items of interest such as the packaging from deliveries from a certain online retailer, empty plastic bottles (removing all the bits that can get stuck in teeth or swallowed), food dispensing toys, other boxes and loo roll inners. Ren then has a whale of a time throwing the boxes around, shredding them and finding all the food. She finds every last piece! Snuffle mats can also work well as a natural foraging toy or a Buster mat.
Scentwork – Ren and Koda love doing scentwork! A good way to expend energy, practice basic skills such as a stay (to wait before release to ‘find it’) and provide enrichment and mental stimulation. They work to find a scented article, on cue! If this something you’d like to try, there are lots of qualified instructors who can help you learn how.
Wobble cushions – My dogs also enjoy love body conditioning exercises on their wobble cushions. Because they both have special needs, we only do these exercises under our physiotherapists’ supervision, however wobble cushions can be very mentally and physically tiring, as the dogs must carefully work to balance themselves on them! There are lots of ideas for their uses on the internet, or consult a qualified professional who can show you the best appropriate exercises for your own dogs.
Why not share your rainy day activities with us or tag us in your photo’s on our insta – Bristol_dogschool or Twitter - @BristlDogSchool accounts
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