It can be frustrating when your dog cannot go for walks, perhaps due to injury or recovering from an operation such as castration, or perhaps you have a bitch in season and are therefore keeping her to on lead walks only.
While dogs do love a good run around outside, there are plenty of ways to mentally stimulate them and use up some of their restless energy without even leaving the house, and there’s also lots of benefits in it for your dog.
First things first though….
Don’t have a fat dog
Food is an amazing resource to use for rewarding dogs and a lot of these activities utilise the use of food, however when a dog is on restricted exercise it’s important to manage their diet accordingly and prevent them from putting on too much weight. Taking a percentage of food out of their meals to use as training treats is a good way to keep on top of this. As always… speak to your vet if you are worried.
Consider the dogs ability
If your dog is injured or recovering from an operation then it’s important to think carefully about what you are asking your dog to do and the impact this can have on the dog’s body, especially the part that is recovering. For example if your dog is limping then you will want to do calm, low movement activities and avoid things like setting up a mini agility course in your front room.
Dogs love to sniff, it’s natural to them, so we should all be giving our dogs some sort of scentwork opportunities anyway, but it’s especially good for injured or restless dogs.
Scentwork is as simple as hiding treats in a snuffle mat, cardboard boxes or around the house, but you can also train your dog to find and alert to a specific smell, such as catnip or clove oil, and do some proper-serious-cool searches like a police drugs dog!
If you’re around Stoke-on-Trent then I’d highly recommend Tracy’s classes: https://www.facebook.com/awesomepawsdogtraining/
Teaching your dog something new is fun and rewarding for both you and your dog and has a positive benefit to your relationship. It can be easy to get stuck in the same boring obedience routine, so teaching tricks can be more fun and give your training a boost. Plenty of tricks are also low impact so you can do them with an injured dog. Here are some of my favourites;
- High five
- Nose nudge
- Leg weave
- Walk backwards
3. Dog sport foundation training
If you do agility training with your dog there are plenty of foundation exercise you can do in your own living room or garden. The same applies for gundog, flyball, rally, obedience, and more. Remember, if your dog is injured or recovering from an operation then consider what they should not be doing first.
Here are just a short selection of ideas, if you attend training classes for your dog sport then speak to your instructor for more;
- Front & rear foot target
- One jump skills
- Retrieves – blind, seen, swapping toy for toy, etc
- Weave entries using 2×2
- Running contacts
- Wait / Stay
Similar to above, there are lots of low key exercises that can help to maintain and improve your dogs fitness. I feel it is our duty to keep our dogs in the best physical condition, especially if they are doing physical activities which include jumping, turning quickly, stops and starts.
Again here is a short list of fitness activities;
- wobble board / cushions
- standing / sitting on it
- sitting on it and giving paw
- front feet on
- back feet on
- Single foot targets
- Sit to down / Sit to stand
- Caveletti poles
Also if your dog is injured and you have been given some exercises to do by the physio / specialist / etc then take the time to do these every day to give your dog the best chance of recovery.
5. Other enrichment ideas
Check out the fantastic facebook page Canine Enrichment and this blog post for some good activity ideas.
Think outside of the box and enjoy spending time with your dog.