It’s the rainy season in many parts of the world, and walks, dog park visits, outdoor training classes, and playtime in the backyard aren’t happening with their usual frequency. A dog kept indoors because of rain is a bored dog, and a bored dog is often destructive, hyperactive, or unfriendly. Want to beat the rainy day blues and keep your dog busy (and thus, out of trouble)? Read on.
Just Do It
The first, and most obvious, way to keep a dog well-exercised despite rain: Just take that long walk anyway. Remind yourself that it’s easier to walk in the rain now than to buy a new couch later, should your bored pup express its displeasure with a nice, long gnawing session. If it’s been raining frequently where you live, invest in some booties (if your dog will keep them on) and a rain jacket for your dog, to keep the wet dog smell to a minimum. Some waterproof boots, a poncho, and an umbrella will keep you dry, too. Once you get past the initial unpleasantness, exercising with your dog in the rain can be fun.
You can’t fully replace outdoor exercise with games indoors, but playing active games inside can keep a dog cooped up indoors from developing cabin fever, at least for a few days. As a bonus, enlisting kids to help play training games with the dog keeps them occupied, too. Here are some favorites:
Hide and Go Seek: You don’t really need to change the rules of this common children’s game to play with a dog. The only difference: The dog is always “It.” You can have the dog stay in a down or sitting position while all the humans hide, then have each person in turn call the dog. Alternately, have one person stay with the dog while the others hide. Once everyone has hidden, the dog’s “assistant” can direct the dog to search for each person in turn, using the command “Find (Name)!”
Tag: Pretty much as you’d imagine. This works best with at least four people. The humans play tag with the usual rules. The only difference: To tag someone, when the dog is “It,” he or she must be called by someone and perform a cued behavior. The person who cued the dog then becomes “It,” tags someone else, who then tags the dog– repeat until all players are bored and/or exhausted.
Detective: If your dog knows the names of a few toys, this one is fun: Hide the toys that he or she can identify by name throughout the house. Cue the dog to bring you a particular one. If your dog is not good at scent tracking, you can incorporate elements of the game “Hot and Cold” by clicking when the dog heads toward the hidden toy. The dog gets a jackpot when it finally finds the correct toy.
Day at the Races: This only works if you have two compatible dogs and neither has food guarding issues. Get a clicker and treats that both recognize, and give some commands. Only the first dog to produce the correct behavior gets a click and treat. Differentiate by saying the dog’s name as you click. Alternately, use two clickers that make different sounds, or a digital clicker with different sound settings for each dog. This game gets frustrating for the slower dog after a while, but is a fun way to speed up response time in dogs that lag or wait for a cue to be repeated.