With spring, the chance of a rainy day increases even here in sunny Southern California. Your pet might be fine with a single day of indoor-only time – but if they are used to being outside, several days of rain in a row will begin to eat away at your pet’s outdoor time. How can you help them get out their energy and improve their well-being and your sanity?
Most times, an umbrella and an adventurous spirit will allow for at least a small bit of outdoor time to tide both you and your pet over. When the rain is cold or abundant, this may become less of an issue. When the conditions are so bad that one can’t even step foot outside without sinking into mud up to your knees, how can you help them get out their energy throughout the day?
Also, bored dogs get into trouble.
Human companions are often their main source of entertainment, so if we don’t give them stuff to do they’ll come up with activities of their own — and that’s when we end up with chewed up shoes and curtains. By playing with your dog a few times a day you can decrease the likelihood of them developing destructive habits such as excessive barking or chewing.
“There is a growing acceptance among scientists that play is very, very important and the type and frequency of play are a really good indicator of a dog’s quality of life.”
– Mark Evans, former RSPCA chief veterinarian
Here are several ideas for keeping both you and your pet entertained and exercised during any rainy day:
- Nose Work Games
Nose work games are one of the easiest ways to tire out your dog. When you teach your dog some basic nose work games such as ‘find the treats’ you’re mentally tiring them out and helping them develop some of their natural skills. Grab some treats and have your dog watch as you place them around the room the first few times. Then, give your dog the cue to “find the treats” and encourage your dog to pick them up, remembering to praise them every time they find one. After your confident that your dog understands what “find the treats” means you can make it more challenging by having stay in another room as you hide the treats. This is a great game to involve little kids with as well – so long as they don’t hide treats too well.
- Shell Game
The shell game is a simple problem-solving game for both cats and dogs. To play the shell game with your dog let your dog watch as you place a treat under one of three cups. You then shuffle the cups around and encourage them to ‘find the treat.’ The shell game gives your dog plenty of mental stimulation, and helps them work on their problem solving skills.
Here are some great pets playing the game – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9KrjQCkeJA
- Clean Up Game
Find a large container for your dog’s toys if you don’t already have one. This game will help you teach your dog to enjoy doing something productive for your both. Teaching your dog new skills boosts their confidence, and it’s a great way to give them more mental stimulation. If your dog already knows “drop it” have them pick up a toy and give them their drop it command once they’re standing over the container. Praise them like crazy, then rinse and repeat.
- Master the Basics of Obedience Training
Does your dog know all of the basic obedience commands? Do then have a reliable recall and stay? Even well-trained dogs need a refresher course now and then to keep them sharp. All dogs should have a reliable sit, down, stay, drop it, and come here. A few quick training sessions (5-10 minutes) each day are a great way to help your dog master the basics, and they’ll help keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Here is a quick five-minute starter – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37FS8de7nFA
- Snuggle Up & Relax on the Couch
After a nice training session or game there’s nothing better than a little bit of relaxation. We all need time to unwind, and many of our dogs and cats love to lounge around with us. Before bedtime each night, create a mini ritual of sitting on a couch with a specific blanket used only in the evenings. This will signal to your pet that it is time to calm down and provide snuggles.
Have any other rainy-day games for your pet? Please share them!