Fall is flying by and the its beginning to feel awfully ‘wintery’ out there! Pet owners naturally tend to cut back on outdoor activity at this time of year. Unfortunately this can lead to boredom, behavioural problems, and weight gain over the winter months.
A great alternative to keep your pet active in the winter is to move the activity indoors. Teaching your dog (or if you’re really dedicated, your cat) some basic indoor agility makes for a great winter project. Not only does agility keep your pet active and strong, it also challenges the mind.
Here are some basic tips for simple indoor agility. Combine several items below to make a fun obstacle course for your pet:
- Teach your dog to jump! Initially you can teach jumping by holding a treat just above your pet’s reach. Give a ‘jump’ command and as soon as your dog’s feet come off the ground, say “yes” enthusiastically and give the treat. (Caution – older/arthritic pets should not be asked to jump)
- Once your dog has mastered jumping, you can use obstacles like hula hoops to teach him to jump through. You can increase the challenge my moving the hoop higher!
- You can create obstacles to jump over using 2 stands (eg laundry baskets) and a pole (eg. broom handle).
- Create a weaving obstacle by placing objects on the ground spaced evenly apart (eg. pylons, empty jugs, pillows – get creative!) and train your dog to weave through them. You may need to walk your pet through with a leash a few times to help her understand the idea – remember to use lots of treats for reward and communicate clearly and immediately when your pet has gotten it right.
- If you have any larger cardboard boxes your pet would fit in, these make a great tunnel for your pet to run through
- Make a simple ramp with plywood and cinderblocks and teach your dog to climb up/down
- If your pet is enjoying the exercises step up to the next level with affordable agility equipment – check out Amazon for tons of options!
Enjoy keeping your dog active and sharp this winter. Be sure to send us your awesome agility courses so we can share them with others!