When you wake up at 6 a.m. and the temperature is already 85 degrees, you can be sure that it’s bound to be a rough day ahead. What’s worse is that this record-breaking heat has wreaked havoc on the behavior of otherwise good dogs across the metropolitan area. Lots of dogs just simply aren’t getting the exercise that they might normally get, due to the unusually extreme weather.
So what can you do when the weather is too hot (or too cold) to get out and exercise your dog? There are plenty of things that you can do to help him or her expend a bit of extra energy. Tempers usually rise when the thermometer readings are off the charts, so a little proactivity can go a long way in ensuring you are prepared and can remain level-headed when your dog gets a little stir crazy inside the house.
Make Your Dog Work For Their Meal
There are more food toy options than ever out in the pet marketplace. Make your dog work for his dinner by putting it in a toy, rather than eating it “for free” out of the food bowl. The old reliable standby is the Classic Kong, a hollow toy made out of durable rubber that can be both chewed and stuffed with tasty fillings, a double whammy! You can stuff the Kong with canned food, treats, peanut butter or a mix of kibble and low-fat plain yogurt. (The Kong Company also has a great list of recipes here.) To make the Kong last longer for your dog, place it in a zip-tight baggie and freeze it.
Some wonderful food dispensing toys include the Buster Cube, the Kong Wobbler and the Starmark Bob-A-Lot. Place your dog’s kibble in these toys and your dog can whack, nose and scoot them around to work the kibble out of the dispensing hole. The key with all of these toys is that your dog will soon figure out the puzzle quickly with enough repetition, so it’s not a bad idea to mix it up and rotate the toys daily if your dog is a smart cookie!
Lastly, if budget is an issue, another good option is to scatter your dog’s kibble around the yard (if it’s fenced) or the house and have him or her “hunt” for their meal. It makes great use of your dog’s natural instincts and scenting capabilities, while helping to expend some extra energy in the search. Just a note, though… With all of these toys and exercises, supervise your dog to ensure that they do not chew or swallow anything inappropriate.
Train Your Dog
Have you ever wondered why work and school were so exhausting, even if you were just sitting behind a desk all day? That’s because expending mental energy can be almost as taxing sometimes as a physical workout. The same is true for your dog. If you can’t get out with your dog for some physical exercise, work your dog’s brain a bit through some additional training sessions.
Short basic obedience training session that include exercises such as Sit, Down, Go to Your Mat and Leave It will both enhance the long-term communication between you and your dog and improve their behavior, but will also leave your dog a little more drained than before. My personal favorite is the recall exercise… Call your dog to you, say “Yes” as they approach and then toss a small treat away, either out to the side or behind your dog. Your dog will run away to find and eat the reward. Call your dog back to you and they’ll happily come running back for another chance to seek, find and eat a tasty treat. This game is easily played inside if you have open space or a long hallway.
Teaching your dog tricks are another way to use a training as additional stimulation. Easy tricks like Shake, Roll Over, Spin and Jump through a hula hoop are all both mentally and physically challenging, but super fun for both dog and owner.
Other ideas include providing a kiddy pool for your pup so that they can cool and hydrated, offering a child’s sandpit in the shade with dog toys in it for approved digging and participating in the numerous types of dog games and sports will all go a long way to preventing a dog and owner summer meltdown.
In short, the options for keeping your dog busy, enriched and happy are endless… just like the 100-plus degree days of Summer 2012.