This August rather than sun, tans and t-shirts so far all we’ve had is rain, literally putting a dampener on summer spirits. In the summer the weather dictates our weekend and evening plans not just in NYC but also in Britain with the hash tag #BritishSummerTime trending on Twitter again, it’s no surprise that we are fed up with the cold weather conditions.
While we can comfortably stay indoors to keep ourselves entertained in poor weather, it’s a different story for our four legged friends. Come rain or shine all dogs need exercise and when the weather lets us down, walks can be cut short and finding something to do with your dog who has bundles of energy can be tricky. To keep your dog entertained during the turbulent weather, consider:
If you think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, think again. Only this month a woman who is susceptible to violent seizures trained her German Shepherd to lie under her head and support her in the event of a fit.
Whilst not all training is done for such a specific purpose, training your dog in basic obedience is really important. Training may prevent any behavioural issues and help to build a positive relationship between you and your animal that will make life easier and more enjoyable for you both. This is essential given that around 3.9 million dogs are abandoned or given up to shelters each year because owners just cannot control them.
Rather than train your dog with punishment, use positive reinforcement, rewarding your dog with treats and affection when he or she completes a command. You should do this regularly to maintain their training and reinforce good behaviour. However, if you haven’t found the time recently, a rainy day presents the perfect opportunity to get in some practice. Head over to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers for some helpful training tips and advice.
Ultimately, proper training means that you can enjoy the time you spend with your canine friend without worrying they might run off or nip you.
‘Find it’ and ‘Fetch’ are all brilliant ways of engaging with your dog in some down time whilst keeping their mind and body active, but the games don’t end there. You could plan a treasure hunt with your dog. Start simple by taking your dog’s favorite toy or a treat and a few opaque containers.
Hide the treat under one of the containers and encourage your dog to smell the containers and find the prize. Once he finds it give him the treat and lots of praise! After a few goes you could make this game more challenging by hiding toys or treats in places around the home. This is a stimulating exercise for your dog, exercising both their body and mind.
You could also play more physically exhausting games with your dog, such as ‘Over, under, through’. Grab a piece of sturdy furniture like a chair or stool and teach your dog to crawl under it and stay, crawl all the way under and through and jump over it. Use verbal queues and reward them when they complete each action. Once they get the hang of these three commands you can introduce combinations. This will get your dog’s mind working and will also wear them out physically too. If your dog seems bored at any point you know it’s time to up the ante and make the routine more complicated!
If you have a treadmill at home, you could make use of rainy days to train your dog to walk on the treadmill safely. That way your dog is exercising as if they are outside, but without being drenched by the downpours.
Turn the treadmill onto the lowest speed and encourage your dog to get on with a treat. You can use your dog’s lead as an aid but never tie your dog to the treadmill. Once your dog is used to the treadmill you can gradually increase the speed.
Start with a five-minute workout and increase this by one minute each session. The maximum time your dog should stay on the treadmill is 10 minutes. To keep your dog interested throughout you could offer your dog a treat every few minutes.
When the weather decides not to play ball it calls for you to be creative – cue an agility course. You could make some homemade hurdles or create a tunnel for your dog to run through using pillows. You could also get your dog to jump through that old hula-hoop that’s been sitting in the attic.
If you don’t have enough space for jumping, or if you have a small breed, you could set up a weaving obstacle instead, using old shoes, books or anything else that’s lying around. Map out your obstacle course first and slowly guide your dog through it. After a few times walking, try it running! This will wear your dog out and get their brain working. If you set up a jumping obstacle course, make sure all of the materials are easily broken down so that your dog can participate safely and without risk of injury.
To keep your dog occupied make sure to rotate their toys every so often with something new. Of course, if they’re particularly attached to a specific toy there’s no need to throw this away, but consider replacing those that are extremely worn out or just aren’t that interesting to your dog anymore.
Dog toys are really important for a number of reasons including bonding, dental hygiene and intellectual stimulation. The Planet Dog Orbee Ball is a good option for dental health. It’s tough and durable and available in a variety of sizes to suit the jaws of big and small jaws. On a rainy day you could add an extra dimension to play by teaching your dog the names of the toys, which will stimulate your dog mentally and means you can get your dog to find and fetch specific toys!
There are plenty of dog friendly restaurants and pubs across the 5 boroughs that welcome owners and their four legged friends. You’ll be indoors so it’s the perfect way to avoid the rain and it means you also get a treat! There is Smorgusburg Prospect Park Sundays this summer. Please note that on Saturdays Smorgusburg that dogs are not allowed.
Wherever you decide to go there will be people entering and leaving constantly, which means your dog will get some practice socializing, engaging with both human and canine strangers. As a dog, learning manners can be difficult as it doesn’t come naturally to them, so taking your dog to a bustling environment will help your dog to learn.
Whilst the weather this August has been miserable it’s certainly not surprising, as the 5 boroughs have never been renowned for glorious summer weather. Because of this, a number of organisations have set up indoor dog parks, so why not take a trip to one to doggie daycare?
Sometimes though, braving the weather for an outdoor walk is inevitable. On days like this why not join a social group of dog walkers, which you can find on websites like Meet Up. This way you’ll all be in it together and both you and your dog gets a chance to socialize.
If you are taking your dog out in the rain, avoid busy roads as visibility can be compromised in bad weather for drivers and dogs alike. If you do have to cross main roads, keep your dog on a short lead and don’t forget your rain jacket!
This article was contributed by Holly Barry as a guest blogger.