4 ways to keep your dog in shape when you’re stuck indoors

Nothing can replace working with dogs in the outdoors, but bad weather can sometimes force you to stay indoors. When that happens, you can still keep your dog’s brain and body in hunting shape with these activities.

COMMANDS

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Mealtimes are exciting for dogs, and savvy owners can take advantage of those high-energy moments to reinforce basic commands such as “sit,” “heel” and “stay.” Mix things up by heeling dogs close to their bowl or having them sit farther away and stay until released. Reward good behaviour with a quicker release, but vary the wait time from a few seconds to a minute or more. Such daily training using food as a distraction is good for both younger and older dogs alike.

Mealtime is a good opportunity to reinforce basic commands

SOFT MOUTH

This is an excellent drill to train a retriever to pick up and gently carry objects in its mouth. Simply ask the dog to hold an item, then get it to follow you around the house. Finish the drill with the “give” command, then give the dog praise or a treat. Almost anything a dog can fit in its mouth works, from training bumpers to balls to chew toys.

SEARCH

To encourage your dog to use its nose to find things, start by getting it to sit and stay in a location where it can’t see you hiding treats. Then on the “find it” command, get the dog to use its nose to sniff out the goodies. Let it find the easy ones on its own, then use commands and hand signals to guide it towards the more hidden treasures.

CHALLENGE

Along with searching drills, agility courses can also challenge dogs mentally and physically in an indoor setting. Skills learned in these activities enhance the dog’s tracking and scenting abilities, while promoting problem solving and overall fitness.