Personally, I walk my dogs every day hail, rain or shine. But there are occasions when you’d normally be out with your dog, that doing so is either just not possible, or maybe even NOT SAFE.
NOT IN THE HEAT
In hot weather, walking your dog can actually be life-threatening (even more so for dogs with shorter muzzles and breathing difficulties). The heat itself can cause heatstroke, collapse and in severe cases dog’s do not recover. The pavements/sidewalks may be so hot that walking on them can cause blistering and burns to your dogs paws. In these cases, please walk your dogs either very early in the morning or at dusk/after dark, when the ambient temperature and that of the pavements have cooled to a sensible level.
In very cold weather, for some dogs a walk is just not a “cool” idea. Older dogs with arthritis and joint problems will find walking in the cold and on cold surfaces very uncomfortable indeed. Dogs with hypothyroid problems often have a very low tolerance to the cold and should only be exposed to cold temperatures for short periods of time. Some dogs find walking on icy surfaces very difficult indeed, not just from a balance/mobility angle, but also if they have very delicate paws (again as in dogs with hypothyroidism) you can find the ice actually burns the flesh necessitating protective booties for your furry friend. If you cannot protect your dog adequately with layers (particularly if they are old, have sparse hair coverage or a very short coat) then very cold temperatures are not the time to walk him either.
If your dog has recently been ill, had a physical injury or undergone surgery, your vet may advise that exercise should be reduced and walking held off until they have recovered sufficiently to resume normal exercise. Obviously, if your vet says no walks, that’s no walks … even if Rover is begging to go out! If you have bitches who have not been spayed, then you’ll know how important it is to keep them safe during their seasons as off-lead exercise can be fraught with problems. It’s times like these that mental stimulation can be a real God-send.
Here’s a video Kate made of her dog Fizz enjoying her “Graze Box” and snuffling her way through the balls of paper to find the treats – lots of brain stimulation was needed for Fizz as this video was taken because Fizz was in season and therefore not allowed all of her usual off-lead exercise – great ideas there Kate, thank you for sharing.
Thank you Lynne Mejury for this fab clip of Pickle enjoying the loo rolls!!
and here’s another of Lynne’s dogs getting to grips with the snuffle box
If you have a DIGGER, then something as simple as a large planter with something tasty hidden inside a tearable cover and popped in for them to dig up is great fun … Fizz again (this time, making her own entertainment!)
If you are pretty good with training your dog, perhaps you could include teaching little behaviours like crossing their paws, taking a bow, weaving through your legs and even closing the door. Small sessions with lots of clear direction and plenty of praise are great fun for both of you and if you teach something like clearing away their toys and putting them in a box, for example, they can even prove helpful to you in the future!
If you’re looking for something a bit more purpose built, you can of course get brain-games and puzzles specifically for dogs where levers need to be pushed, lids opened, covers slid etc etc. The list is endless and basically comes down to how much you want to pay for them. If you are going to purchase one of these, please make sure it is suitable for the breed you have – ie a large, powerful breed like my Ridgebacks needs a very well made, heavy duty game to stand up to their massive paws and jaws!
So, you don’t want to spend money on the games? No problem. There are lots of things you can make yourself that will test Rover’s ability just as much as anything you buy – a simple search on Google or YouTube will bring up lots of things you can construct easily yourself, and a phrase such as “Mental Enrichment for dogs” will present you with lots of interesting games and ideas – but this is the one my dogs adore the most:
And don’t forget, being trapped in the house is a good opportunity to carry out those regular grooming duties that can sometimes get put off when you are busy; give him a good brush (or even a bath if he needs one), clip or Dremel those claw, brush those teeth and give him a general “once over” to check for any lumps or bumps and while you’re checking, perhaps a little bit of gentle massage will go down an absolute storm (you can’t tell me this dog isn’t enjoying it!!! lol)
So, just because you can’t get out, don’t just switch off …. have fun with your dog and stay safe.