Your dog needs regular exercise, both mental and physical, but that doesn’t always mean we can or want to walk - especially in the heat of summer. Considering that an active day improves behavior and leads to calmness at home when it comes to our pets, we’ve laid out 5 easy ways to exercise your dog on even the toughest days to do it. The combination of mental and physical activity produces the best results.
Hide & Seek
For those brutal summer days when it’s just too hot to go outside, hide & seek is one of the best ways to tire your pup out mentally. First, identify a high-quality treat that is safe to feed your dog and truly enjoyable so that she’s willing to work for it. There are several options to play, and the easiest is to put her in a sit position or lying down in her place, and then require she waits while you hide the high-quality treat around the house. Once you’ve hid small pieces all over, release her and watch her work. Additionally, an even better game to play is to use a prey dummy (click here for a full instruction), in which you put the treats and close so the reward cannot be gained without your help. Again, put her in a sit or lying down and make her wait while you hide the prey dummy, then release and watch the magic happen. The effort it takes for a dog to search is surprisingly large, as they use multiple senses and utilizes their base instincts from which they surely tire out. Once found, teach her to bring it to you and when she does you open and give the treat! It’s fun for both you and your pup, and then...like magic...it’s nap time!
Catch the Toy
When your pup just isn’t behaving and it’s too hot to go for a walk, that is when Catch the Toy is the easiest way to release some of that pent up energy. To play, simply tie a rope or strong string to the end of a toy your pup likes. We do recommend using a high quality, nontoxic, and untreated dog toy that is chemical free like the Gianni Cooling Monkey Eco organic dog toy. The rope should be long enough to extend at least as long as your height, so if you’re five feet tall the rope should generally be about five feet including the length of the toy you attached. Take your dog on a reliable dog leash so that you can leave it on him if you think he’s a flight risk. Once you’re outside, let the toy fall to the ground and grab the other end of the string and swing it lightly as you turn, always pulling it just out of reach, and watch him work to catch it - running around you and changing directions as you mix up the location of the toy. Once he catches it, if he’s like Henri the Gianni Cooling shop dog, he’ll shake it in his mouth a few times before releasing it so he can chase once more. After a few rounds, he’ll be tired both physically and mentally and ready for some water and another nap.
Frisbee is an easy way to exercise your dog, and we have a few tips you might not already know. First, be careful of the joints as if she will actually jump and catch the frisbee in her mouth over time it could lead to damage due to high impact. Consult your veterinarian, but in most cases activities like this done in small quantities are not harmful. Considering this, however, we like to play with an eco-friendly and non toxic dog toy to be used as a frisbee that is not made of plastic and harmful chemicals and can be chewed (natural rubber frisbees are a good option). To play, put your dog in a sit and try not to let her release until the toy lands, then release and watch her run. Do your best to have her bring it back before you play another round, although we know how tricky this can be. Henri will often run a few circles or lay in the grass before he’s willing to bring it back, but in the end he’s happy and burned off a lot of energy and that is what counts!
Work the Nose
Similar to Hide & Seek, nose work games are amazing ways to tire your pup due to the extraordinary amount of activity involved in sniffing for dogs. One of our favorites is to pick a safe shaded spot outside where both you and your dog are comfortable. Put your dog in a sit and drop small pieces of high quality treats in the grass around an area spanning roughly six feet. Once there is a healthy amount of snacks for your dog to consume, release them and watch the nose work. If the treat is hidden beneath the blades of grass, then the dog cannot rely on sight to find the treat and will begin using their sense of smell to track down every last piece until no food is left in the area. To be sure, they will continue smelling throughout the space until convinced all crumbs have been consumed. In five minutes or less, your pup can have exercised one of the most important mental faculties they have, the nose. Don't have a backyard? Don't worry, simply hide the treat inside!
The last option is not always the easiest, but it sure is fun when done in a safe way. Understanding that some dogs do not like the water, we will also sneak in another tip. If you want your dog to enjoy swimming as adults then introduce them to water early as puppies by dampening your fingers and touching their paws. If they allow you to do so, you can prime them to be unafraid of water once those big paws first get wet as adults. For dogs who do love to swim there is nothing better to do for exercise on a hot summer day. To do so, find a clean water source that is free from chemicals or other hazards (always check for the Blue-Green Algae in non-flowing freshwater) and generally canine friendly, and be sure to take a floating water toy with you (for example the Monkey Edinborough nontoxic water dog toy by Gianni Cooling). The Monkey Float Edition is made of recycled plastic and floats, and will even give you a natural boost to your throw so you can get it far enough without straining your arm. It only takes a few rounds for your dog to be cool from the water and tired from the swimming, and best of all you will never lose the Monkey Swim dog toy, because it floats.
Have fun and be safe this summer
What are your favorite ways to exercise your dogs in summer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.