15 Things to do with your Dog When It’s Raining
At the time of writing this, the sun is shining in London. So much so that Bruce took his first swim in the park’s pond yesterday (he still smells – it’ll be bath time later). It feels as though spring is on it’s way, which in England can only mean one thing – we’re about to have our hopes dashed by some serious rainfall.
Living in the UK, I’m well used to wet and windy dog walks. Sometimes though, it’s just too much to venture out into. Dogs don’t mix well with thunder and lightning, so staying indoors can be the only option. If you live in more extreme climates, staying in with your dog and watching the rain fall may be something you are far too used to.
With a dog like Bruce, missing a walk can be a nightmare. High energy breeds really need their exercise. The truth is though that all dogs need at least one daily romp, and if they don’t get that stimulation things can get messy. Destructive behaviour can set in, as can whining and attention seeking which will become so annoying you’ll start wondering if getting struck by lightning is really so bad, and maybe you should walk your dog in a hurricane after all.
Worry not. It’s not necessarily the act of actual walking which your dog needs, it’s the mental exercise as well. So, to get your dog to chill the hell out and give you a break, why not try some of the activities on this list.
Activities to do with Your Dog on a Rainy Day
1. Hide and Seek
A good training game, this will work on your dog’s stay command. Put him in a stay and go into another room and hide – under blankets, behind the sofa… pick a good spot but make it easy to start with and increase the difficulty as your dog gets the hang of the game. Shout ‘find me‘! When you’re found, shower your pup with praise, cuddles and play. Then do it again!
2. Stuffed Kong
I am a huge fan of kong toys in general, but love the stuffable kongs. Fill it with your treats of choice – peanut butter is always a good one – and let your dog put some effort into getting it out. A stuffed kong is a great option after playing some indoor games as it settles them down, and is brilliant if you’re busy but know the dog needs an activity to keep them occupied.
3. Basic Obedience Training
No matter how young or old your dog may be, it is always a good idea to take training back to basics sometimes. Practice sit, down, stand and stay until your dog can do it in a split second. Mix it up – get your dog to move quickly from sit to down to sit to stand to down etc, over and over again in quick succession, then praise and reward!
4. Advanced Obedience Training
Some obedience training is tougher for dogs to master. I consider training against doing any bad behaviour which is self-gratifying to be advanced. That means not jumping up, not counter surfing and leaving food and appealing objects like shoes. Spend 15 minutes a week reinforcing this training and you’ll have a relaxed dog for the rest of the day, and a well-behaved dog in general.
5. Trick Training
If you really want to get those cogs turning, then train a new trick! This is really fun for dogs and tires them out quickly too. Try teaching your hound to play dead, spin, roll over or speak.
6. Indoor Fetch
Before you play fetch inside you need to make sure you have a safe area where nothing can get knocked over, and you need a soft ball. Get yourself an indoor ball for rainy day emergencies, and enjoy!
7. Find It
Potentially Bruce’s favourite indoor game, ‘find it’ is a treat game which encourages your dog to use his nose to locate hidden treats. If you’ve never played this game before, start with something smelly like cheese. Hide pieces around a room while your dog waits in another room, then tell him to ‘find it’ and let him seek out those goodies. As your dog gets better at the game you can make it more difficult by expanding the search area and using less smelly treats.
Take the opportunity of having some extra indoors time to give your pooch a really good groom. Grooming is brilliant for bonding between you and your pet, and it prevents build up of dirt, prevents tangles, and encourages a healthy coat. Do it after playing some games and doing some training, because grooming a hyper pooch is never easy.
Once your pup has had a play and some training, help him relax in the absence of walkies with a doggy massage. You can hire someone to do it for you, or do it yourself. I love this instructional video from Victoria Stillwell on how to give your pup a pamper session.
10. Thinking Toys
Another great option for anyone who needs to entertain their dog but is having a busy day. Thinking toys are puzzles which, when solved, give your dog a treat. They usually involve moving pieces around in order to reveal hidden compartments which you add food to, and your pup has to manipulate the pieces to get the reward. This is like brain training for your dog – not only is it fun at the time, but it could prevent dementia in old age. My favourite thinking toys are from Nina Ottosson.
11. Play date
If your pup loves the company of other dogs then why not invite a canine friend around for a play date? Chances are they will be stuck inside when it’s raining too. Give them an area to play, get lots of toys out and let them wear each other out.
12. Frozen Statues
Another great training game. Frozen statues is a fun game which tests your dogs reaction to the ‘wait’ command. Get some toys and act crazy with your dog – jump up and down, run around, make silly noises and be a bundle of fun. Then, suddenly shout ‘wait’, and freeze in place. Your dog should stop moving too and wait. Give it a second and then go back to acting like a loon. Repeat! As your dog gets better at the game you can increase how long you freeze in place for.
Have you ever heard of the game cups? Most likely you have. It’s when an item (usually a small ball) is placed underneath one of three cups, the cups are moved around, and the person playing has to pick the cup which has the ball underneath it in order to win. It’s so easy to play this with your dog! Simply pop a treat under the cup instead, and let him figure out which cup the treat is under. Just don’t use breakable cups – plastic cups work well, or you can use old, washed yoghurt pots.
14. Go out
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck at home with your dog. Go for a car or train ride, have lunch in a dog friendly pub or cafe, or visit friends and family who love your dog as much as you do. Don’t let the weather hold you and your dog hostage.
15. Suck it up
Your final option? Wrap up warm, put on a waterproof jacket and go for a walk. Consider your options – is the weather actually so terrible that you can’t walk your dog, or is that you just don’t fancy getting caught in some drizzle? If it’s the latter, you should probably bite the bullet and take your pooch for a walk, even if it’s just a short one to get it out of his system.