Deanne Cheng from Sydney, writes: ‘ I have two dogs under the age of 3 years old. With the long hot summer still going, our boys have been indoors a lot. They are well behaved, but they do get bored. What can I do to keep them entertained?’
No matter where you are in the world, keeping your dog/s cool and safe in the summer is really important. Most of us are happy and able to keep our dogs indoors with the air conditioning or fans on for our animals. For the dogs that stay outdoors, they usually have a shelter and plenty of water to splash around in. Either way, waiting out the heat can be boring for most dogs. The trick is creating stimulation that will keep them mentally happy. There are creative ways of stimulating your dog, so they will be tired but happy, without exercise.
FOOD STUFFED TOYS
You would have heard of the food stuffed toys such as the Kong, a bouncy round toy that you can fill with Kong treats, or your own mixes of food your dog likes. The idea is that your dog licks and chews the toy, trying to get the food out. It provides a great mental challenge for your dog. There are all sorts of food stuffing toys out there, in different sizes and shapes depending on what your dog likes. This is a great way of stimulating your dog into problem-solving mode – how to get the food! You can also use this method to give them their meals too. It provides a challenge and is great for dogs that gulp their food down without chewing. This is a great solution for your dogs that love to chew.
Growing more popular, are the snuffle mats and lick mats. The snuffle mat is a toy that provides the dog with an opportunity to sniff and search for hidden treats. The snuffle mat is made of fleece strips tied on to a rubber mat with holes in it. The loose ends of the fleece are on top and provide the hiding spots for the treats. You can put all sorts of loose dry treats into the mat, and your dog has to find them all. It is a great solution for keeping your dog busy indoors, and they have to activate their sensory abilities.
A lick mat or a Lickimat is a rubber mat with raised grooves in different designs for your dog to lick treats or food off the mat. Licking is soothing for your dog and calms them down. It isn’t a long term solution to keeping your dog busy, but it may occupy them for a couple of hours, especially if you freeze it. This is a great solution for your small to medium dogs.
For the dogs that enjoy a car ride, this can be just as stimulating as getting out to go somewhere. Particularly on those hot days, if your dog just wants to see the outdoors, you can certainly take them for a scenic drive. My dog Savannah still loves a car ride, even when I tell her that we are not going out. She loves looking out the window, watching people and checking out her surroundings. You will be surprised how much a simple car ride can give your dog mental enrichment.
DOGGY DAY CARE/ PLAY DATES
You can find a dog day care near you where your dog can spend all day having a blast with other dogs! Most dog day cares have large indoor playgrounds that are air conditioned so your dog can enjoy hours of play whilst staying cool. It is a great way to exhaust them out, and it is great socialising for your dogs too. If you cannot afford to send your dog to day care, you can organise play dates with your dog’s friends from the park. If there are dogs that your dog gets along with really well, and you trust the owners too, you can organise play dates at each other’s home where they can play and keep each other company.
There so many different ways of keeping your dogs busy indoors. From creating an obstacle course inside with your furniture, to playing hide and seek around the home. There are some great community forums online where people offer solutions they have tried with their dogs too. You never know what clever ideas people have used to entertain their dog! There will be at least one idea that will work for your dog. Don’t give up on the first try. Sometimes it takes a couple of times to get your dog interested, maybe trying different food treats to get their interest.
At the end of the day, a dog that gets enough exercise, and mental stimulation is a tired, happy dog with no incentive to chew or destroy your home.