5 Calorie-Burning Games to Play with Your Dog
Spending the dog days of summer outdoors is wonderful, for a while. But too much time in the sun makes it easy for your pooch (and you) to get overheated. If you're passing a barking hot day cooling off indoors, but want to make sure your pup gets enough exercise, try these five active, stay-at-home games to play with your dog.
Go into hiding. A good game of hide-and-seek will not only keep your dog moving, but will give him mental exercise as well. "Tell your dog to stay (or have someone hold him) and then go hide," suggests Robin Bennett, a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) and Co-owner of a dog training company in Woodbridge, Virginia. "Once you're hidden, call your dog and let him use his nose to find you." You can also play hide-and-seek by hiding your dog's favorite toy or treat, and then letting him find it.
Get him jumping. "Make some jumps by laying broomsticks and mop handles over chairs, covering them with towels, and having your dog jump over them," recommends Pat Miller, a dog trainer and author of a forthcoming book on how to play safely with one's dog. Another option is to create a mini-agility course in an unfinished basement. You can also encourage him to jump on and off furniture -- assuming he's already got furniture privileges and is big enough to engage in this activity without hurting himself.
Boost his brainpower. A dog doesn't always need physical exertion to get the stimulation he craves -- mental exercise works, too. "Mental exercise is as tiring as physical exercise," says Miller, who lives in Frederick, Maryland. Bennett suggests teaching your dog a new trick, doing some refresher obedience exercises, or giving him an interactive toy such as a Kong that's stuffed with treats for your dog to dig out.
Do the freeze dance. "Teach your dog to run, jump and be crazy until you freeze [stand perfectly still in one place]," suggests Bennett. "When you freeze the dog has to sit. When you are unfrozen [start moving again], the dog can race around again. This is a good game for teaching impulse control, especially to younger dogs."
Exert some pull. A tug-of-war session can burn off lots of excess canine energy. "I love tug for many dogs, the exception being the overaroused dog who can't learn to play by the rules," says Miller. For mannerly dogs, she suggests using only one toy for tugging, keeping that toy away from the dog unless the owner wants to play, teaching the dog to let go of the toy when asked, stopping the game if the dog's teeth touch skin or clothing, and taking possession of the toy more often than the dog does.
Find out which dog breeds need the most exercise. Check out the Breed Profile Pages!