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Liz Langham, MS, CPDT-KA
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How to Exercise a Dog in the Winter

Introducing. . . Indoor Energy Releasing Games During the Valentine’s Day blizzard I was thankful for my seven-year-old dog. Rudy was content lying by the woodstove chewing on a bone. Thankfully his energy surges come every three days rather than three times a day. However, my mind often drifted to the young puppies and dogs that were probably going a little nutty. I visit many a pup and young dog filled with energy few human adults can fathom. To top it off, when a young dog has pent-up energy it may get very "punchy." This punchy behavior is expressed with nippy (piranha-like) or sporadic behaviors. As dog owners, how can we get the energy out? There are a few options, aside from a long snowshoe adventure. Many of the following games are very engaging for your dog and your child can participate too! ng on a rubber bone. Unfortunately, she was not finding enjoyment in the TV program and was being completely ignored.
  • Hide n' seek: Dogs love to be with their people, so this game comes fairly naturally and can also teach a dog each family members name. Let's call the family members Sam and Jane. Jane will hide and Sam will say, "Where’s Jane?" Jane will take this as a cue and call the dog's name. Once the dog finds Jane, Jane will offer heaps of reinforcement. Keep repeating the game. Jane should change locations to keep the dog interested. Eventually, Jane can stop calling the dog because the dog will understand what to do when Sam says, "Where's Jane?"

  • Find it: Use an item that is rewarding to the dog such as a tennis ball, a bone, or a dog biscuit. Have your dog in a sit stay and place the item about 5 feet from the dog. Say "find it" The dog should get up and move to get the reward. Tell him how brilliant he is while he eats or brings back the item. Repeat this a few times. Increase the distance between the dog and item and slowly make the game more challenging by hiding the item or putting it in another room.

  • Back n' forth: Toss a piece of your dog's kibble down the hall and say "get-it." While your dog is eating the kibble, say "Daisy come" (replace Daisy with your dog's name) in a bold voice. Toss a treat in the opposite direction and say "get-it." Repeat a few times. (Can you think of the benefits of this game? Not only have you released a lot of physical energy, but also you have had successes and repetitions at the all-important "come" command!)
TRAINING and EXERCISE are the best ways to keep a busy dog content and tired. Training tires a dog out mentally and exercise, physically. The above games were mainly physical energy releasers. For the mental component, work on basic obedience skills: sit, down, come, stand, and stay…. If your dog doesn’t know these behaviors play around and see what you can come up with. If you like it, reward it! Tricks are also fantastic skills to engage in and can help in tiring your dog out. If you are intrigued by this article but baffled with the how to, call your local trainer to build a foundation of training and experience. Perhaps this rainy spring will be a lot more rewarding to you and your dog.
Written by Liz Harrison
Tree Frog Farm Personalized Dog Training and Agility Farm
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