Walking your dog around the streets of your home is one of the best things you can do to keep him physically and mentally healthy and well socialized and well adapted to normal things like strangers, vehicles and other dogs. But sometimes, an owner can’t get out there for various reasons. Here are some alternative ways to exercise your dog’s body and mind.
1. Hide toys, food stuffed toys or chewies in your house or yard and allow your dog to find it and enjoy it. This can be done very simply while the dog is watching or can become a whole other level of challenge for the dog to sniff it out.
2. Hide yourself and call your dog to find you. This can easily become a great way to practice coming when called. Put your dog in a crate or on a leash in the hands of another person while you hide. When ready, call your dog to you! Reward with food or play when your dog finds you to reinforce the command.
3. Build your dog a digging pit. My dogs have one and all their dog friends love it too. We dug up a space that gets some shade, removed about a foot of grass and dirt, created an edge with spongy things that look like bricks and dumped in some fine sand to fill it up. We later added a palm tree for more shade and aesthetics. It keeps the dogs cool when they lay in it and digging provides exercise and enjoyment in a location that I don’t mind holes! You could even spice this pit up by burying bones and toys in it once in awhile to keep the dogs interested.
4. Try a Tether Tug if your dog loves tug-of-war. This toy entertains your dog without being present.
5. A Tail Teaser is a great toy for all ages and all types of dogs.
6. For about $10, a kiddie pool can be a great addition to your dog’s exercise and enrichment, especially here in Florida.
7. Find an enclosed space that is rarely used and let your dog run free while you sit and watch, walk alongside or use a chuck-it or tail teaser in the open space. Tennis courts, baseball fields, even playgrounds are often empty if it’s during school hours or drizzling.
8. Invite a friend with a friendly dog over to play.
9. Put your dog’s bowl away and feed him only from toys like a Kong, Kibble Nibble, Squirrel Dude or anything that food can be put in.
10. Toss your dog’s food all over your backyard and let him go. Free, simple and your dog will take a long time to find each piece.
11. Sit on a park bench or in your car and play a simple, but profoundly effective training game with your dog. Let you dog sniff the air, watch things pass by and generally ignore you for as long as he wants. When your dog looks at you, feed him a treat. Repeat each time he looks at you. This teaches the dog to focus his attention on you, that you are highly valuable, and gets the two of you out and about.
Here are my favorite toys and chewies as well as some videos to help you further.
Get out there and exercise your dog! You will both be healthy and happy.