It’s 20 degrees, the wind’s kicked up, and the sun just set. I don’t care how sad my dog looks, a walk this evening is out of the question. Even if I wanted to brave it, it is dangerous for him, even with dog boots and a dog coat. But we need to do something.
If you live in colder climates, you may be used to braving the weather, but there just are times that you and dog should stay inside. You can still exercise your dog. Even a larger dog. Even if your home isn’t that large.
One of our favorite indoor dog games we call “Mountain climber”. Basically it’s just running up and down the stairs combined with ‘Money in the Middle’. My little trick, name the game so the kids are interested in playing too. We have someone at the top of the stairs and someone at the bottom. We throw one of his toys up and down and try to keep it from the dog. If you are good at throwing and keeping the toy away from the dog, let him catch it once in a while. Then you, can start over with a new toy or chase him to get the toy or wrestle the toy from him. Our dog likes all three.
Our other favorite game is wrestling. Yes, wrestling. OK it’s not my favorite to play (I refuse to wrestle) but it’s my favorite to watch my husband play. For larger, playful dogs like ours it works well. You are actually giving your dog three things at once: physical activity, personal attention and physical contact–all things most dogs love. And works for the husband too–he is always panting after 15 minutes.
This game is not for every dog. You need to know if your dog’s personality can handle it as a game, not a serious defense. And after the game, you need to bring the dog down and reinforce your position as caring owner (not fellow dog) with firm, gentle conversation and some affection petting.
Cesar Milan, Dog Whisperer, has some of the same ideas in this article on Indoor Activities on his Web site.