Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Mental stimulation will do when physical exercise is limited. . .but sometimes it's not quite enough.

Mental stimulation will do when physical exercise is limited. . .but sometimes it’s not quite enough.

There is no doubt it’s been cold this winter. With sub-zero temperatures most mornings (and throughout the day), activity has been limited around here. I miss our 3-4 mile walks in the snow (especially when it’s deep because it’s a great workout!). It’s just not safe for canine or human when the temperatures drop that low. No matter how much I bundle us up!

Unfortunately, dogs can’t rely on television to keep them occupied. Books don’t do it either. And I’ve yet to see a dog master playing video games. They really need physical and mental stimulation to be happy. Staying inside staring at the walls all day makes for a pretty wound-up pupper. Especially if you own an active dog like I do! (Yes, even my 10 year-old mutt gets stir crazy when she misses a couple walks.)

I’ve been doing my best to keep her stimulated. We train daily (sometimes two sessions). I’ve tossed toys around the room and up and down the stairs for her to chase. On the weekend, if it’s warm enough, we get out for a walk. I even take her with me when I teach class. But it’s not enough. I didn’t realize how wound up she was until I stayed home sick from work. I needed to rest and Risa needed to climb all over me and get up in my face. “Can we do stuff!?” Even if it hadn’t been too cold out, I was sick and needed some relaxation! I pulled out the Tug-A-Jug and froze some food in a Kong to placate her. It wasn’t quite enough but it did keep her from climbing all over me for a while.

I love watching the gears turn in her head as she figures out the location of the hidden object.  We used to play

I love watching the gears turn in her head as she figures out the location of the hidden object. We used to play “find it” all the time when she was younger.

The cold has refused to let up. I was reminded the other day of a game we used to play that I haven’t played with Risa in ages: “find it.” I decided tonight was the time to bring back this game. I got out a toy that had been in storage and teased her a bit with it. I shut her in the basement and hid it in the house. I then ‘released the hound’ and she had a blast locating it! I hid it in relatively easy spots. I hid it in harder spots. I hid it under, behind, and on top of things. I hid it high and low. Risa found it every time. Sometimes it took her a long time but she never gave up the search. When she did find it, I praised her and we played tug with the toy or I tossed it down the hall. She was WILD and crazy the entire time and she was having a blast! After I ended the game, she promptly passed out.

It’s really a shame it’s been so cold but it’s actually a bit of a blessing. It’s been a while since I have taken the time to play with Risa. We do a lot of training which she loves and our walks are something we both enjoy. But there is something to be said for playing together too. I think I’m going to start incorporating more play into our daily lives. I think we’ll both be the better for it. Cold weather or not!

About Jamie

I'm just a traditionally-trained artist with interests in dog training. I currently teach classes at the local obedience training club (tricks, freestyle, and Rally-FrEe) and I also teach classes professionally for an organization who helps veterans train their own service dogs.
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