It doesn’t matter if its raining, snowing or even the middle of the night; if you have some time on your hands and a dog staring at you – here are 10 things you can do with them right now.
Teach Your Dog a Trick
This can be anything from balancing a ball on their nose to simply reinforcing their sit command. Teach them to hold something in their mouth, look you in the eyes, pray, beg, you name it. Here’s a quick video of me working on having one of my Boxers hold a wooden spoon in her mouth. I also taught my other to crawl. There are tons of videos available on YouTube on how to teach your dog pretty much any trick – get creative!
This is especially fun but may take some building up to. Remember, you want this to be successful and not frustrating to your pooch. Start by just hiding behind a curtain or a door. Call their name and give them a chance to search. Make sure you have treats to reward when they find you. Slowly you can build up to behind the couch, under the bed or in a closet. This is great to get Fido to try and figure out where you are, lots of brain power goes into searching. Always reward when they find you and if they can’t after 5 minutes stop the game and have them do something they know.
If you do not want to be the subject matter you can always use some treats and a box – like a shoe box. Start by setting the treats in the box and putting it down in front of your dog. The second they stop trying to get the treats out of the box, stop then look up at you – reward them with treats you have on you. This is the very foundation to sent work. Eventually you can work up to a couple boxes or some bags etc. – one of which will contain the “hide” (hidden treats). Always reward from your person and not the object so they don’t start tearing apart the box to self-reward the destructive behavior. You can reward with your hand over the box/object but the point is so that the dog learns to perform a search, signal and then be rewarded for the signal, not by helping themselves to whatever was in the container.
Take a Walk
As long as it is safe to do so – go! Don’t let rain stop you from pounding some pavement with your pooch. Your personal safety, extreme heat, cold and of course a tornado warning are certainly not good times to take a walk but rain shouldn’t be a deterrent.
As a professional dog walker for the past 14 years and owner of 3 dogs myself, we have the right gear to go get the job done. When people are sitting warmly at their desk earning an income to spend on their pup, professional dog walkers are out walking dogs no matter the weather – we’re like the mail carriers. A walk is wonderful stimulation; they get to check the pee-mail. Its also great for you, double bonus.
Check Them Out
A head-to-tail or snout-to-tail assessment is something you should be doing regularly on all of your pets; at least once per week. Lumps and bumps can pop up out of no where and they can mean trouble if they grow rapidly and without warning. Many will be benign but its always best to make note of any growth, its feeling, noting if its hot to the touch, hard or loose under the skin and what size it was on what date. I have a note started in my smartphone for anything I notice on my pups. If anything changes within a week or I am even slightly concerned, I contact my vet.
Also look at eyes, nose texture, any signs of injury etc. I found a nice sized wound on one of my pups that I kept a close eye on to avoid any infection. They play roughly with each other so the origin was not unknown.
Have you noticed your dog is more sleepy? Has the poop changed or do they seem to need to go to the bathroom more often? These are things to take stock of as they are the best ways our dogs have to communicate with us. Take note and bring them to the vet for anything uncertain.
Take a Pet First Aid & CPR Course
What a fantastic activity to do with your dog (and cat). Take the course at the pace of your choice, in your PJ’s at 10 pm with your dog beside you. Just how would you apply compressions to your dog? Don’t actually do so but lay them on their side and envision yourself doing them.
Learning with Bella beside you will help you apply what our ER veterinarian shows you online, in person. If an emergency happens do you know what to do? Curl up to the computer, tablet or even your smartphone and find out with Fido by your side.
Take a Video of Your Dog Walking
Sounds a little strange but hear me out; if you know what is normal, it will be much easier to tell when things are not. Since we are with our pups every day, its hard to notice things like weight gain, a slight limp or other issues that can happen slowly over time.
If you have a video of how your pup walks and runs normally you have something to compare too when you believe something may be off. Who doesn’t want another video of their dog? Below is our friend Gus who’s walking normally with his monkey – it goes everywhere with him.
Clean out the Toy Box
I’ve had dogs for the past 15 years and some of my current toys are older than my current dogs! I know it might seem hard to believe but your dog will love to help you clean out the toy bin. That toy they never play with – suddenly they do.
I take the rubber and plastic toys that are dishwasher safe and send them through a cycle. Toys that do not have squeakers but plenty of dirt find themselves in the washing machine while others just find themselves in the trash. Often toys can become too small so I worry about choking, or they just get to a point where they don’t hold up much as a toy anymore.
Fido smelling a little funky? While grooming needs vary widely based on the breed or mix of breeds with whom you share your couch (or bed), every dog needs some sort of regular grooming. I have Boxers so doing their nails weekly, checking to make certain their ears haven’t collected too much of the backyard and brushing the little tiny hairs they shed is extremely helpful to their health.
Brushing your dog regularly helps distribute natural oils and helps keep your pups coat nice and shiny. Short nails prevent all sorts of issues like back issues from walking incorrectly on long nails as well as preventing injuries by long nails breaking off down to the quick.
Bathing can be good for your dog, again depending on the breed. Since I have a short-coated “wash and wear” breed, I only bathe my pups 2-3 times per year. This may be too little or too much for others. I do try to avoid winter baths so that they can maintain the oil in their coat to prevent their skin from drying out.
Go for a Ride in the Car
Obviously if you have a dog that has a phobia of the car or gets car sick – this just got knocked off your list but for others this is a great way to stimulate their brain. I recently got a new van and have raised the crates up so that all 3 of my pooches can see out. While they do sleep for much of our longer rides, on shorter ones they all enjoy window watching as the world whizzes by. If we have super cold days or even hot ones, sometimes my husband and I will go for a ride to see some of the landscapes around us, pop out for a quick walk along the beach until it gets too hot – we just head back to the car to cruise the seacoast. When you can’t take a walk for whatever reason, sometimes a ride is just as good.
Take a Selfie
Been neglecting your Instagram account lately? What better way to spruce it up than a picture of you and Max. Chances are that you are not the only one that thinks he is adorable, there could be thousands of your followers just waiting for your next post!
We bring dogs into our lives for many reasons, the most common being for their companionship. We work long hours and even though you may have a dog walker to make their day much better than yours at work, they still long for our time and attention. These are just 10 things I could think of off the top of my head, what are some of your favorite things that you can do with your dog right now?