Search This Blog

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Having fun in the snow

Winter is still dragging on here in central Illinois.  It has been one of the snowiest winters for us in a while.  I know there are areas out east getting a whole lot more white stuff than us, but many dogs are getting tired of limited play time outside.  Bella, our family dog is one of those restless canines.  She will play inside but the call of the great outdoors has her pining for fetch and running around.
How can I get into the scarves now???
At our home, we do not have a fenced in back yard. So, for safe play  we use a stake out base with a cable for Bella to play on.  Now, the typical 20 foot length of cable is not really enough for Bella to get a good head of steam running about in the yard. We have devised a long horse lunge line connected to the stake out to give her more length.   The yard has about 80 feet or so of open space for her to play fetch with a willing human.  Bella really needs her running around, sniffing where all the bunnies and squirrels have been.  Sniffing every bush and tree is what keeps Bella happy.  My whole family knows this about her.  Having a safe outlet for this is what keeps her behaving best.  So for summer play in between long walks, we will take the Frisbee or tennis balls out and play with her. Thirty minutes of constant running around really poops her out and that gives us all a better evening.  

A few days into the first snow, I realized she was acting so naughty because she was not getting all the aerobic play she would usually get.  Walks were challenging due to the  ice and snow. What to do?  It dawned on me that she could still play on the line and that would be a great way for her to get short bursts of play especially when it is bitter cold. As her feet became cold, we could go inside quickly for a warm up and then go out again 15 minutes later.  She would overall get the running and sniffing in and be a happier dog.  So, Bella has been going on the line with me or my daughter for a rousing game of fetch at least a few times a week.

So if your dog is going stir crazy, and you do not have a fenced in yard, here is a way to help your pet get a lot of active play outside.  

Tie the end over the back not the chest
I purchased a horse lunge line to attach to Bella's harness. You can get these at Rural King, or check online for a horse supply source.   The harness will prevent Bella from hurting her neck if she suddenly ( as she does!) runs out after a squirrel and gets to the end of the line.  Most lunge lines are about 30 feet and made of a wide canvas webbing with a latch end.  If you have a Houdini that can twist the latch to spring free, use the latch end at the stake out part and tie the handle end to the harness with 2 or 3 throws to keep things secure.  You can connect 2 lunge lines together to get more length.  Tie this to a strong post on a porch or somewhere if you do not have a secure stake out in the ground. 

Now get 3 or 4 tennis balls, Frisbee or what ever your pet really likes to chase.  Throw the ball in one direction.  As soon as your dog gets the one ball call their name and throw the next ball in the opposite direction.  As they get that ball, throw the third ball in a third direction.   Keep this up.  Now your dog is going to be literally running all over the yard non stop.  Most dogs will carry the ball and drop it somewhere near you as they are on  the way to the next one.  Keep your dog running around until they slow down  or are spending a lot of time sniffing around.  This means they are getting tired .  That is a good thing!!!!  All that aerobic activity does help increase the calming chemicals in the brain.  Even though the ground is frozen, dogs can still smell all the scents in the yard which is also very stimulating for their heads.  Actually when everything is frozen it smells a bit different so your dog may be very intrigued.  Just bundle yourself up well and if you get too cold, then bring your pooch inside for a break. 

If you know your dog really needs a lot of active play, try this fun in the snow technique for a better behaved pet.  Winter won't be over for a while!

Bella chewing peacefully after her outside play

No comments: