I absolutely love the wet weather - the sound of the rain pounding on the Colourbond roof, the lushness of the garden that only rainwater can give, being snuggled up inside with a warm drink… but my poor Fur Babies miss out on their beloved walk or trip to the dog park! Now if its just a little shower we might take an adventure out in their Huskimo wet weather coats - but if it’s bucketing down, cold and a bit more miserable then it’s indoors we’ll stay.
Cebar (my elderly cocker X) is happy either way! He’s a chilled out, distinguished kind of dude who will just go with the flow but Whisky (my young Frenchie) is a whole other ball of fun - he is full of beans at the best of times and if he doesn’t get out for his daily constitutional well…. he goes “Crackerdog” with zoomies and getting into all sorts of mischief. But I do have some strategies I can share to keep “Mischief Managed”! (I’m a big Harry Potter fan so couldn’t resist throwing that one in as well as my Game of Thrones title.)
These activities will help to burn off some of that excess energy, and keep your Fur Baby mentally stimulated without you having to brave the storm outside and will also increase your bond with them as well!
It’s Doggie S-paw Time!
Indoors is a great time to catch up on any grooming needs and a bit of a health checkover for your Fur Baby. It can be a Doggie Day Spa!
Whilst some dogs love a bath, some reluctantly tolerate it and some try to escape it - this is more of a pamper time where you turn it into a bit of a game with treats! For the less enthusiastic participants treat it as you would all dog training, work on small incremental steps until they are ready for the big Kahuna. You want to get them used to being touched, handled and checked over bit by bit, rewarding them along the way and eventually making bath time fun.
Start with a full bath I actually take mine into the shower as I find it easier because they both want to be together and Cebar is way to big for a tub, and the human bath would kill my back! Use a shampoo and conditioner suitable for your dog and it’s individual needs. I use Malaseb shampoo and Phyohex conditioner for Cebar (due to his thyroid problem which causes skin issues) and Aloveen (oatmeal based) shampoo and Organic Coconut oil as a conditioner for Whisky. Always be careful of getting water inside their ears - as this can lead to infections and other ear nasties, and for Brachy breads like my cherub, Whisky, never spray water directly on their face, use a facewasher only, and make sure you clean out those gorgeous wrinkles. Don’t forget to protect and shield any dogs eyes with your hand if you do spray their face to avoid any eye issues plus they won’t like you very much if you spray them there! They love a good towel off starting by playing the “throw it over me” game with the towel and drying their heads first, then the back, tummy, legs and tail, I also sure I dry all the little important bits, like their underarms and groin folds, between the paws, in their skin fold and private parts. They can’t let us know if they are dry so as a Parent it’s your job to check. I am also checking their teeth, and cleaning if needed, and as I’m washing and drying checking for anything out of the ordinary in terms of lumps, bumps, dry patches or hair loss. I also take a good look at their nails, especially their dew claws and if necessary clip/grind them (or organise to get it professionally done).
If your dog won’t freak out you can blow try them off fully, but I usually just let them air dry unless the weather is really bad as Cebar takes ages to dry and the “Eau De Parfum Wet Dog” is not one of my favs!
Once dry I give them a good going over with my Shedeze comb, then brush them out with a grooming glove. Finish off with a quick spray of Shine For Sure and polish in with a microfibre shamy glove. And for the “Piece De Resistance” a spray of Lustre Aid to smell just Devine! Your Ultimate Door Day Spa is done - Viola!
If your dog needs some extra encouragement and feeding one-on-one treats like a Pez dispenser is not ideal, try a frozen LickiMat - this will make it a super dooper positive experience but try to do it earlier on, so you still have time to wash their face again!
Organise an Indoor Playdate
If your Fur Baby will be missing his dog park friends, and you know the ones he is sociable with - why not invite a couple of his besties over. You won’t be the only Pawrent wanting to avoid the rain but still letting your Fur Baby have some fun.
Socialisation is essential for dogs, and very enriching and helps teach them good doggie manners by learning to pick up the social cues, having to keep up, learning how to play appropriately with others, and generally enjoy being a dog - and YES that does mean some butt sniffing and fitting in with the pack.
Dogs do have to adapt to different surroundings and usually we train them to be well-behaved and quite inside the house - so letting then practice this in different houses in a great opportunity. A few cautionary words though, try to choose “Besties” who Pawrent’s you know will be respectful inside your home and who will keep their dogs in line when visiting - it’s not a free for all. When you make the invitation make sure you explain the intent and ground rules of this indoor playdate so everyone is on the same page and you don’t end up with a trashed home or precious things broken. They need to understand it’s about the dogs getting to play and they need to be supervising! For this reason I suggest don’t make it an invitation for morning tea or lunch or anything - it’s not about the humans!
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and your “Fur Babies Besties” may be different sizes to yours or have tails when yours doesn’t. So if you home is not already “doggie proof” for those attending then make it so - remove anything expensive or precious that could accidentally get bumped or knocked over by a wagging tail or higher butt. You might also want to think carefully about any intact males attending - as they are almost guaranteed to start scent marking in a new environment. Whilst a "Belly Band" can deal with this you need to make sure the owner is well sorted before they arrive to avoid any urine damage.
If you Fur Baby is the sharing kind - all good, if not, you might want to remove their bed or toys etc from the room you will be using (generally a kitchen or lounge room). I would always suggest removing any favourite toys just a precaution. Keep their water bowl out, but I would also put away their food bowl - your dog may never have shown resource guarding behaviour before - but they may have never been put to the test - err on the side of caution!
With all your mitigation strategies in place there is no reason this won’t go off with a bang - for all the right reasons and your pooch will be pooped and want to sleep. You might even organise a roster to have it at other peoples places next time the weather is unfavourable.
Piggy (FRECHIE) In The Middle
This one does require two Pawrents, or at least a Pawrent and a willing human helper. You can do it in any room really, but I suggest finding a long, straight, uncluttered space such a hallway as they can gain a lot of speed and you will be throwing things!
Find your Fur Baby’s favourite toy, one that they really love to play with, and get them all revved up and ready to go with it by playing with them, letting them have it then taking it away, playing tug etc. Now move the fun into the hallway and set up one person at each end - now it’s ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!!! Keep talking your dog and geeing them up about the toy right in front of their nose and then throw it to the other person. They will bolt after it. Do the same at the other end and keep doing this until they begin to flag. When they are too poop to pop any longer the game is over and chances are they not only had fun but are ready for a well earned nap!
Can You Find It?
Dogs love to sniff (Duh!) and the invention of snuffle mats are a great way to do this. Hide and seek is also great way to offer your dog indoor enrichment. Start by making your dog stay or wait (whichever command you use) and hide some non-perishable treats (just in case they don’t find them all and you forget where you put some!) around the room but do it in their eyeline so they actually see where you hide them. Then give them the release command (I use “Okay” but some people use “Free”). Show lots of encouragement and enthusiasm in your voice as they find them and reward them verbally or with pats for their success. As they get better and better at finding them try finding a few out of sight to make it harder and more challenging for them. If you really want to turbocharge the game, find some tougher spots that they will really have to search for - somewhere they don’t usually go and hide a really sought after treat there as a bigger reward like a LickiMat (it might even be a new toy with a food treat attached). This will not only reinforce the game as really fun and interesting, but give a greater reward time and time for them to calm down after their frantic searching.
Interactive Feeders or Puzzles
More food!!! But just remember anything extra should be in place of their meal NOT as well as! As cute as those little extra rolls might look they are not healthy and you don’t want to put them at risk of obesity!
So these kinds of activities should be just a different way to server their meal, or part of their meal across several puzzle toys or interactive feeders. I’ve already mentioned the LickiMat which is a big hit in our home. But there are many others that slow down eating, stimulate your dog mentally, tire them out as they work out how to release the delicious food or treats inside and are great boredom busters.
Here are just a few I use or want to try soon:
Kong Gyro Treat Dispenser
Kong Quest Starpod
Rogz Fred Treat Ball
Rogz Yumz Chew Toy
Rogz Grinz Fetch Ball - also can put treats in it
Smarty Paws Donut Puzzler
Nina Ottoson - Outward Hound Dog Twister Interactive
Petsafe Chilly Penguin
Visit Dog-Friendly Stores - Eg Bunnings
You can still stay indoors and give exposure of the world and socialisation to your dog, especially if is it a young dog still getting used to the big wide world, by going to the dog friendly stores, such as Bunnings! They might be on lead, or wheeled in the trolley, but they get to see, hear and smell all sorts of interesting things as well as meet a diverse range of human admirers!
It also give you a chance to practice some basic training skills in a very distracting environment, to strengthen your bond and know your dog will be listening to you no matter what other distractions are around - very reassuring.
If this is all new to your Fur Baby I suggest bring a treat bag with some favourites to ensure their attention and make it a fun excursion. If they are old hats at it, the excitement of the outing alone may be enough. Either way they will generally be quite pooped by the time you get home and want a quite snooze to while away the rainy day.
I'd love to hear how you go if you try any of these, or hear your ideas on how you cope with those rainy day doggie blues!