Extreme heat and cold make it next to impossible to provide our dogs with their daily needs. Taking them out for walks in freezing cold or brutally hot days is not only unpleasant, but can be life threatening. Dogs, like humans, can suffer from frostbite, hyper and hypothermia. So what can you do to still give your dog the mental and physical stimulation she needs daily? Here are my 5 safe activities to do with your dog whether it’s 30 below or 40 degrees celsius.
- TREADMILL – This is a great solution to still give your dog some exercise, not only for their body but also their brain. The dog has to concentrate on moving forward at the same pace, making it a challenge and very different from a free for all out in the backyard. Slow and steady means they have to think and so this activity can tire them quite quickly as it does double duty. Hire a trainer educated in Dog Psychology who can show you how to safely introduce your dog to the machine as this takes time and patience. For safety reasons, never leave a dog unattended on the treadmill and have them go slow. It’s not about speed, it’s about a mental challenge.
- HIDE & GO SEEK – This is also a mental challenge for your dog and also a fun game that can strengthen your bond. There are two versions of this game you can play. One is with you hiding, and the other is if you hide your dogs favourite toy. Putting your dog in a sit stay, leave the room and hide then call your dog. This activity is great for engaging a dog’s nose which is instinctual to them. It also helps to improve their recall by waiting until you call them to search you out. Make sure you praise your dog lots when they find you so that they can feel good about it and continue to want to play. Hiding your dog’s toy is an added challenge. For this I recommend using the “find it” command. Start with easy spots, down low to the ground where it’s clearly visible, and then increase the challenge by hiding it high up or under things. I strongly discouraging using treats for this game as it can promote searching out food and can lead to counter surfing. For really cleaver dogs, hide more than one toy and ask them to find a specific one (ie – find your green ball, or find Teddy).
- INDOOR SHOPPING – Many people are unaware that there are indoor dog friendly destinations. Of course you have your pet stores like Ren’s, Pet Value and Pet Smart, but places like Indigo, Marshall’s, Michael’s and Canadian Tire are also spots you can take your dog. If you are looking to do some shopping, why not take your dog with you for an outing that gives them some socialization? This will surely tire them out on days that are too chilly or hot to go outside! I recommend you call in advance just to ensure that they are indeed dog friendly. This is only ideal for dogs who are already well socialized with humans. If your dog needs to work on his friendliness towards people, this is not the activity for you and you should work with a trainer before ever attempting this as all it takes is one bad experience to make a place no longer open to canines companions.
So there you have it! There’s no excuse really to giving your dog some fun even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Dogs, like humans, can get bored and need exercise and mental stimulation everyday in order to be fulfilled. If they don’t get what they need they will entertain themselves with destructive behaviour in the home and you really don’t want that.