Although we like to think of Texas as a place where the sun always shines, we have our fair share of bad weather. And when our dogs can’t get out to play several days in a row, they get the Bad Weather Blues. It’s up to the humans to find good ways for a dog to burn energy indoors.
In the winter, we get days that are cold and wet. In addition, we Texans generally hibernate when we see snow or when the annual ice storm arrives. Spring and fall are thunderstorm seasons, often with weather patterns that repeat storms on multiple days. And in the summer it may be sunny, but the excessive heat makes us want to hop from one air-conditioned location to another.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to help burn off your dog’s energy indoors. A variety of activities will help keep your dog happy until nice weather arrives again. Exercise can be physical or mental (or both), so try out some of these ideas to tire out your pup when getting outside just isn’t practical.
Several manufacturers now make interactive toys for your dog. Most involve finding treats in special compartments. You can make your own interactive food toy with a muffin tin and a double-handful of tennis balls and/or small toys. Put a ball or toy in each muffin cup and put treats under some of the balls. Help your dog learn how to take the balls out to get to the treats.
A rousing game of tug is a great way to burn off energy. A good game of tug should have a few rules. You start and end the game, and your dog should “win” frequently.
Roll a ball down the hall and send your dog after it for a slightly lower-key fetch game that’s less likely to bounce the knickknacks off the furniture. You can also toss the ball up the stairs to increase your dog’s workout. Don’t play this version of the game if your dog has back or hip issues or arthritis.
Indoor Agility Course
Create your own course – send your dog over the newspaper, under the chair, around the magazine rack, and finish on the footstool. Get creative with whatever you have available.
Doggy Day Care
When you’re short on time, a day or part of a day at the local doggy-day-care can give your dog a break. For social dogs who really like to play with other dogs, day care is a great a way to run off some energy.