This summer we have experienced a medley of mixed weather conditions, particularly during the start of what usually is one of the hottest summer months. Rather than sun, tans and t-shirts we endured rain and overcast days literally putting a dampener on our summer spirits. In the summer the weather dictates our weekend and evening plans, and with the hash tag #BritishSummerTime which trended on Twitter again, it’s no surprise that Brits are fed up with the hot and cold weather. Whilst we can comfortably take to the indoors to keep ourselves entertained, 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 our dog, who has bundles of energy can be tricky. To keep your dog entertained during the turbulent weather forecasts, here are some ideas when braving the outdoors is off the cards.
‘Find it’, ‘Tug of War’ and ‘Fetch’ are all brilliant ways of engaging with your dog in some down time whilst keeping their mind and body active. Start simple by taking your dog’s favourite 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 super stimulating exercise for your dog, exercising their body and mind.
You could also play more physical 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 gets 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.
I taught mum a new pawty trick today. Every time I pressed the buzzer she had to get me a treat. She did very well for her first attempts, proud of you mum! More practice tomorrow. Woofs Frodo xx
Posted by Frodo Cavalier on Wednesday, 22 February 2017
On Wet days Frodo loves a game of ‘press the buzzer’
When the weather turns it calls for you to be creative, so cue the 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 getting them to run it. 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. 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, available in a variety of sizes to suit the jaws of big and small breeds. On a rainy day you could add an extra dimension to play by teaching your dog the names of the toys, this will stimulate your dog mentally and means you can get your dog to find and fetch specific toys.
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 therefore prevents any behavioural issues and helps to build a positive relationship between you and your dog that will make life easier and more enjoyable for everyone. 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.
Always use positive reinforcement, rewarding your dog with treats and affection whenever they complete a command. You should do this regularly to maintain training and reinforce good behaviour. However, if you haven’t found the time recently, rainy days present the perfect opportunities to get in some practice. Head over to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers for some helpful training tips and advice.
There are plenty of dog friendly restaurants and pubs across the UK 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 both get a treat! If you feel like a fancy brunch why not take your dog to Bronte, a restaurant that overlooks the Strand in London and serves tasty dishes such as hot smoked salmon and scrambled duck eggs. If fancy brunch isn’t quite up your street you could opt for a classic and comfy pub like the Durham Ox in West Yorkshire. Almost all pubs welcome furry friends, but if you’re unsure of the dog policy in certain places you can always call ahead to double check. It’s also worth researching menus with delicacies just for your dog. The Shake Shack in Convent Garden offers red velvet dog biscuits for example.
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.
It’s certainly not surprising the weather this August has been a mixed bag, as the UK has never been renowned for glorious summer scorchers. Because of this, a number of organizations have set up indoor dog parks. So why not take a trip to one of Action Petz indoor dog parks? Both parks boast features such as paddling pools and play areas to keep your pooch entertained. You could also take your dog to doggy daycare for an afternoon; this would give you a day off, help get your dog socialized and keep them entertained.
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 get 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 leash and don’t forget your rain mac!