“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.” While I admire the U.S. Postal Service, there are times when Mother Nature keeps you and your dog from enjoying that daily walk. Did you know an adult golden retriever needs at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise plus a good dose of mental stimulation on a daily basis to keep them happy and healthy? Here are some tips to prevent boredom and exercise the brain.
#1 – Practice Commands
This is a great time to practice basic or more advanced training. Keep sessions to 10-15 minutes at a time, depending on your golden’s attention span. Of course, keep the treats coming when commands are successfully completed! A great book with tricks that includes photos and training steps is “101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance.
#2 – Play, Play and More Play
An almost endless amount of fun but still challenging, indoor games exist for you and your pooch to play together.
Fetching, tug of war, running up & down the hallways or stairs (carefully), and “hide and seek” activities provide physical and mental activity. For hide and seek, you can play with family members or treats. Your golden retriever can use his nose to find hidden toys, treats or even people. This can also be a fun activity for bored kids! Need some ideas? Visit the The Dog Trainer website or read 50 Games to Play with Your Dog to get started.
My goldens love to go to the pet store or hardware store. If the weather is safe to drive in, an outing in the car and walking up and down the store aisles is fun. Practice training good manners while in the store. You may also want to pick up one of the interactive toys that challenge your dog’s mind, which is just as important as physical exercise. Most involve solving a “puzzle” to get a treat or find a scent and are fairly inexpensive.
#4 – Chew on This
Filling your pooch’s Kong or marrow bone with peanut butter or cheese in a spray can will keep your golden from feeling frustrated. Our local shelter uses cardboard tubes from paper towel or toilet paper rolls. Stuff cheese, peanut butter, treats, cut-up hot dogs and kibble inside, fold over the ends, and let your dog tear up the cardboard to find the treats inside. Of course you will have to pick up the mess, but it will keep your dog occupied and focused. Most dogs just rip up the cardboard to get at the goodies inside, but you definitely want to avoid the dog swallowing large chunks of paper. Trade the cardboard for treats. As with all food, supervise your pet.
#5 – Spa Day
Spending an hour grooming your dog is a great way to spend quality time together. It helps reduce some of the shedding of our golden’s glorious coat. Simple ideas include:
– Brush. Use a soft slicker brush or metal comb. Before bathing, brush your dog’s coat to remove any dead hair and tangles.
– Shampoo. Human shampoos dry out a dog’s coat and skin, so use a brand formulated for pets. To dry your golden’s hair use a towel, air dry or a hair dryer, if your dog is familiar with it. Use the dryer with care. Set the dryer on the lowest possible heat setting. Keep the nozzle a few inches away from your dog’s fur and the air flow in constant motion to prevent heat from concentrating on any one spot and burning your pet.
– Nail trim. A nail clipper or dremel (a motorized grinder for shortening a pet’s nails) works well. Cut your dog’s nails every three to four weeks, or grind them using a dremel each week. Forego the nail trim if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
– Freshening Spray. Finish with a spray that shines and deodorizes that flowing coat.
– Clean Ears. Use a canine ear cleaner to gently wash out ears on both the inside flap and inner ear. Wipe any excess off with a cotton ball and let your pooch give his head a good shake.
#6 – Indoor Dog Parks
For a fee, your golden can romp with other dogs in a climate-controlled, safe environment. Most have artificial turf and areas for small or large dogs. Staff members supervise play time. This strategy can help socialize your pet while exercising.
#7 – Downward Dog
Unwind in the afternoon by playing a yoga DVD created for pets and their people. Doga, as it’s commonly called, has all the same health benefits of yoga: increased flexibility, strength, energy and endurance. You actually share the mat with your pooch. Expect to help position your pet into poses as well as do your own. Doga DVDs are available for purchase online, and in-person classes are held in dozens of cities nationwide.
Hopefully this is a good start for indoor activities in inclement weather. If you have other ideas, share them in the comments below. Stay warm and dry this winter and let’s hope we can get back to walking our goldens soon.
Animal Planet, “Rainy Day DogActivities” – http://animal.discovery.com/pets/5-rainy-day-dog-activities.htm
Vet Street, “Is it Safe to Blow Dry my Dog?” – http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/is-it-safe-to-blow-dry-my-dog
K9 Nose Work, “Tips for Practicing Nose Work at Home” – http://www.funnosework.com/news/tips-practicing-k9-nose-work-home
Dogster, “Rain or Shine: 10 Ways to Engage Your Dog Indoors” – http://www.dogster.com/dog-training/engage-dog-indoors
The Humane Society of Indianapolis blog, Connie Swaim, Trainer,”Games When It’s Too Cold to Play Outside” – http://indyhumane.wordpress.com
101 Dog Tricks, paperback book by Kyra Sundance – http://www.amazon.com/101-Dog-Tricks-Chalcy/dp/1592533256