Every pet parent knows the value of exercise for their dogs. Not only does exercise help prevent obesity, it also optimizes the range of motion of the joints of your dog. This can increase overall mobility and contribute to better quality of life for your hound. Exercise can also make your canine friend feel good about itself as it gets to perform some of the activities its ancestors were known to do in the wild. However, there will always be instances when heading outdoors is simply a big no-no. As such you should be prepared to exercise your dog indoors. Here are some essential tips to get you started.
Get a Really Good Dog Treadmill
Most pet parents consider walking or jogging with their pet hounds as the best form of exercise for both human master and his or her pet dog. If you’re like these pet parents, then you can actually train your pet to walk or even run on the treadmill. If you already have a treadmill at home you can actually use this to exercise your pet indoors. You may want to start slow first because your dog will not really be keen on the feeling of walking but getting nowhere. So, go slow. Use treats and other forms of positive reinforcement tools to get your dog walking on a dog treadmill.
Once your pet is no longer feeling unsure what to do on the exercise machine, you can step it up a little bit. Go for a leisurely trot, like a prancing horse. Take your cue from your hound. You can gradually increase the speed and see how your pet reacts. Be mindful of your pet’s body language, however. If it is already panting heavily you may want to slow down a bit. Over time your pet should do just fine on a dog treadmill.
Invest in Interactive, Engaging Dog Toys
Interactive dog toys accomplish two things. First, they keep your dog really busy which can help sharpen its cognitive functioning and prevent canine boredom. Dogs that are confined indoors will inadvertently feel bored as they don’t get to see and experience the outside world. They won’t see that much which can stimulate their interest in things. Interactive dog toys allow pooches to keep their minds busy. It is important to choose dog toys that will have your dog working to achieve a particular goal. For example, there are toys that come with secret compartments for hiding treats. The scent of the treat will stimulate your dog to look for the treat within these toys. This is what experts call canine problem-solving.
Interactive dog toys can also address your pet’s need to exercise. It may not be as vigorous as running and jumping outdoors, but these toys can surely work your pet’s limbs as well as jaws. The dog will be using these body parts to open the interactive dog toy to get to the treat. That is why it is critical to pay close attention to the different features that a dog toy has.
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Set Up an Agility or Obstacle Course Right Inside Your Home
Obstacle courses or agility courses are great for exercising your pet. Now if you have a relatively small space at home, then this activity might not really be a good idea. What you can do is to rearrange some of your furniture so your dog can jump onto and run across your sofa, dart and crawl under a row of chairs, and even go around several sturdy flowering pots. Be creative enough in making your very own obstacle course right inside your home.
Get ready with the treats to help entice your pet to go through each section of the obstacle course. Alternatively, you can ask some of your family members to assist in guiding your dog to go through the course. You may also use a variety of tools that your dog can run after. For example, you can shine a laser beam right in front of your dog until it follows this light. Run the laser beam through the obstacle course, making sure your pet follows it.
Go On a Scavenger Hunt
Your dog is a natural hunter, even though it may not belong to the gun dog class of canines. They have this highly acute sense of smell that they can use to track down their prey. This is more like giving them an interactive dog toy with a hidden treat. The only difference is that you will be hiding their favorite treats or even their favorite toy anywhere inside your house. You may want to cover this up with several pieces of used clothes or even towels so that your dog will really have to work to retrieve the treat.
There are many variations for this activity. The most important thing to keep in mind is to use something that your dog is already trained to search or follow. If not, you’d have to train it first so that it will be using its sense of smell to go on the scavenger hunt.
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Run Up And Down The Stairs, But Be Careful
For pet parents with stairs in their homes, running up and down the stairs can be a very intense exercise. However, because the risk for injuries secondary to falls is great, you have to be very cautious when doing this activity.
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Many pet parents start at the top of the stairs. They can then roll a ball down the stairs and a command is given to their dog to go after the ball, retrieve it, and bring the ball back up. Obviously, this will only work if you have already trained your dog to go and fetch the ball for you. Otherwise you should invest time and effort first in teaching your dog to run after the ball and to bring it back to you. Alternatively, you can also run with your dog, up and down the stairs. Again you have to be very careful as one wrong step can lead to injury.
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A lot of pet parents actually love this game. First, they will command their dogs to stay. Alternatively, they can observe their dogs if its attention is not on the pet parent. If the dog’s attention is distracted, the pet parent goes into hiding. From his or her hideout, the pet parent will call out his or her dog. The pet will be looking for the pet parent especially if it is already trained to respond to its name.
If this is your first time to play hide-and-seek, make sure you hide in a place that is easier for your dog to find. Once it is consistently able to search for you, you can start hiding somewhere more difficult to find. The idea is to do it progressively. Don’t start with something really difficult, otherwise your dog will become so anxious with the fact that it hears you but cannot find you. Don’t make it too easy, too, as your dog can easily get bored.
Playing tug-of-war with dogs is always fun. However, it is important that you have already trained your pet that this is a game and not as an outlet for its aggression. It is also crucial that your dog already understands and responds to the ‘sit’ and ‘take it’ commands as well as ‘drop it’. Issuing the ‘take it’ command should prompt your dog to grasp one end of the rope toy with its mouth. If you want your dog to release the rope toy, then you have to issue the command ‘drop it’.
In playing tug-of-war, it is important that your dog will not lick or mouth any part of your body. Any skin contact leads to the termination of the game. Be consistent in your commands. Make sure to give the ‘sit’ command first and wait for your pet to be comfortably seated. Only then can you issue the “take it’ command. The same principle can be applied when playing fetch with your dog.
Teach New Tricks
It’s not too late to teach your pet new tricks for it to learn and master. Go over your dog’s arsenal of tricks and determine which ones still need some reinforcing. Otherwise, you may want to start with a more advanced trick to get your dog all pumped up with the prospect of having to learn something new. Perhaps more importantly is the opportunity to follow your commands and get rewarded in the process.
There are numerous online resources that you can use to teach your pet new tricks. There are also online videos of such activities to help make it a lot easier. Keep in mind the essentials of dog training and you’ll do just fine.
Assisting your dog in getting its daily exercise even though it cannot go outdoors requires flexibility and creativity on your part as its pet parent. With these simple tips, you no longer have to feel sorry for your pet that it is unable to go outside just to exercise. With these tips, you can now ensure your pet will remain as physically and mentally healthy as possible even though it is exercising indoors.
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