Rainy Day Fun with Your Dog
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
Here in Maryland, the summers can get pretty rainy. Sometimes we have huge thunderstorms in the middle of the afternoon. I’m not scared of thunder, but some of my friends have bad storm anxiety. (Read more about Coping with Storm Anxiety
.) Having fun indoors during these storms is a good way to help your dog get over his anxiety. Otherwise, indoor games are a great way to keep your dog occupied when it is too rainy and muddy to go out and run around. Most of these activities are a big help towards cementing your dog’s response to various commands, and thus his overall training.
Take some time to run through your training commands with your dog. This is mentally stimulating, and as long as you don’t work for too long, and keep it fun, your dog will enjoy it. Work on the classics like sit, stay, wait, and down. You can also start teaching new commands like high five, roll over, or crawl. Learn more about the Commands Every Dog Should Know
This one is great for groups or kids. Arrange a bunch of empty plastic bottles in a bowling-pin-style triangle in the middle of a long hallway (20 oz bottles for little dogs, 2 liter bottles for big dogs) have your dog sit and stay at one end of the hall, while contestants stand at the other. Each player gets a turn to call the dog and see how many pins they can get him to knock over. Points are assigned per bottle knocked down and the bottles are reset before each turn.
Strategy hint: try standing at different angles from the dog and see if that gets him to knock down more “pins.”
Puppy Ping Pong
You and a friend stand at each end of a long hallway with a handful of treats. One person has the dog sit and wait next to them, then the other says the dog's name and “come.” When the dog comes, he gets a treat. Then he has to sit and wait to be called back to the other person. This is great for cementing your dog’s Recall Command
. Make the game more difficult by standing in different rooms so the dog can’t see you from where he is sitting and waiting.
Chase the Laser/Car
If you have a small dog, or a big house with lots of room, this game is great for getting that excess energy out. Lots of dogs love to chase laser pointers and remote control cars. Just park on the couch and relax while you drive your dog wild with your laser pointer or remote control car, many dogs will chase either one for hours.
Try the Treadmill
If you have a treadmill, walk your dog on it for some extra exercise. Monitor him at all times and be very careful. This can be a fantastic work out for your rain-frustrated dog.
Chase the Ball Down the Hall
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just throw the ball down the hall and let your dog go after it. Kong toys in narrow halls are the best because they bounce erratically—your dog will love it!
On the subject of Kong Toys, they are a great way to get that energy out too. Just stuff one with kibble or small treats and plug it with peanut butter, cheese, or Kong Stuff’n Paste, then stick it in the freezer. Your dog will spend hours trying to get all the yummyness out.
Put your self-consciousness away, turn the radio to your favorite station, or make a dance mix on your IPod, and go nuts. We love to watch our humans act silly and, even more so, we love to jump right in and be silly with you. You’ll both be worn out in no time and it’ll be time to snuggle up on the couch and watch the rain fall outside.
Find the Toy
Teach your dog the names of his favorite toys. This is easy, just assign a name to each toy, and whenever he touches a particular toy after you say it’s name, praise him ecstatically and give him treats. Once he knows the names of several toys, hide them around the house and command him to find each one individually, by name.
Go Puddle Jumping
Last, but not least, just get out there in the rain! I promise you won’t melt. Suit up in some galoshes, and some old clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and muddy, and do the same for your kids. Then leash your dog, get outside, and go wild. See who can make the biggest splash, who can find the deepest puddle, and who can get the fastest running head start.
If you’re having a hard time getting your dog to go outside to go potty, try puppy pads for indoors, or a doggy raincoat and rain boots.
Cheers to a sunny summer for all of you, and fun on those inevitable rainy days. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article on your dog and your garden.