Outside In: Exercising Your Dog Inside This Winter

  • 05/11/2017

Autumn is truly underway, with the famous Irish weather closing in and the clocks having changed last week - so dog walking is probably starting to look less and less attractive. But dog owners know the secret of a calm and happy dog is a tired dog - and how important exercise is for their mental and physical wellbeing. So when it’s pouring rain, freezing cold, and blowing a gale - all too frequently in Ireland - try some of these ideas to keep your dog active and healthy, all from the comfort of your own home.

Busy paws

Believe it or not, exercising your dog inside is fun, and almost every home will have something which can be adapted for this purpose.

●      Try running up and down stairs with your dog. They’ll enjoy racing you and it’s a fantastic way to get their pulse pumping - and yours!

●      Use your home gym. Once they’ve got the hang of it, dogs can have a great time on treadmills, and this lets you give them a really good workout.

●      Try a little gentle football in a safe area of the house. Make sure nothing breakable is within reach, choose an old, softball, and keep things more about control than speed or power.  If you have a long corridor, try a classic game of fetch.

●      Set up an obstacle course with cushions, chairs, and blankets and get your dog jumping over and under things. 

It’s all in the mind

All of the above will depend on what your home is like, and how energetic your dog gets during play. While keeping things gentle and controlled should help to reduce any risk of damage, you might like to try some activities which offer a more mental type of stimulation.

Clicker training (a kind of positive reinforcement training) is a really good way to engage your dog, enforce good behaviour, and make them earn treats rather than just expect them. It’s encouraged by leading animal welfare bodies as a positive and effective method of training all kinds of skills and tricks - and can be good fun for both dog and owner. Use it for classic obedience tasks like walking to heel, sit, stay, and come - and build these into games like hide and seek or tag.

Getting creative with your canine

Consider other types of puzzles or toys your dog may enjoy solving - there are loads of different kinds you can buy, or try making your own by hiding treats in cardboard boxes or empty bottles. Like most pets, dogs will enjoy a rope toy made out of an old t-shirt just as much as a purpose bought one from the pet shop!

You know your dog best, and what may be exciting and engaging for one dog may not work for another. Take into account their age, energy level, and size too in comparison to your home - but try a few things out to see what tickles their fancy, and you’ll have hours of fun in the warm and dry of your own home.

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