Activities For Dogs After Owner's Surgery

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Introduction

Big or small, short or tall, young or old -- all dogs need some level of exercise or stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. But when you’re laid up after surgery, keeping your four-pawed pal entertained can be particularly challenging. And the situation isn’t just bad for dogs, either. A lot of owners feel guilty when they can’t play with their pupper, and that’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to look after yourself!

Luckily, all is not lost. We’ve put together a list of furrific activities you can do with your doggo when your mobility is impaired.

Stairball

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
15 - 30 mins
Items needed
Chair
Ball
Activity description
If you live in a two-story house (or you have stairs leading up to your porch or down to your yard), stairball is a great way to keep your pupper active with minimum of movement on your part. This activity is paw-fect for energetic pooches who love to play fetch, and for owners who find it hard to stand or walk. The stairs might be a curse for you, but they can be a blessing for your furry friend! This game can be played indoors in all weather, and all you’ll need is a ball and a chair or something to lean on.
Step
1
Position yourself at the bottom of the stairs
You’ll need to put your chair a few feet away from the bottom step (ask a friend or family member to help you if necessary). This is so that your canine companion doesn’t barrel into you, ball in mouth! Make sure you’re comfortable -- depending on how much exercise your pup needs and how much stamina you have, you could be here for a while.
Step
2
Throw the ball up the stairs
If it’s difficult for you to use or raise your arms, you can use a special ball-thrower. Don’t worry if you can’t throw the ball all the way up to the top step -- even if it doesn’t stay stationary for long enough for your four-pawed pal to retrieve it, they can still have fun chasing it down the stairs.
Step
3
Wait for your dog to bring the ball back
All being well, your doggo should run all the way to the top, retrieve the ball, and bring it back to you. Because your pup is essentially running uphill, you should be able to play stairball for a shorter period of time than fetch. Be sure to reward your dog well once they bring the ball back -- this is a new game for them, and positive reinforcement will help them get used to it.
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The Shell Game

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Any Day
Cheap
Hard
30 - 60 mins
Items needed
Treats
Plastic cups
Activity description

While it shouldn’t replace physical exercise entirely (at least not for long periods of time), mental stimulation can tire a pooch out almost as well as physical stimulation. Even when you’re in the peak of health, mental exercise is very important to a pup’s development, and can stop energetic pooches from tearing up the couch!

The Shell Game is an easy, cheap and effective way to get your pup’s brain going, and is suitable for breeds of almost all intelligence levels. It works the same way as it does for humans, except with dog treats instead of a coin. All you need is some plastic cups and some smelly treats. One word of warning, though -- the cups will need to be at your dog’s nose height, so this game may require some bending on your part. If you’re not able to bend, try something else, like a food puzzle (see below).

Step
1
Assemble your cups
Take three cups and put a treat under one of them. Again, you want to keep the cups at your dog’s nose height, so a coffee table is pretty useful. Make sure the treat has a strong odor so your buddy can catch the scent through the plastic. Once your pup nudges the right cup with his nose, reward him with the treat. You’ll need to repeat this several times to make sure they get it!
Step
2
Start switching it up
Once your four-pawed pal can confidently find the treat, it’s time to switch it up. Put a treat under the cup, and move it to another position. If your buddy finds it, repeat! It’s best to move the cup to the same position on every try at first so that they get some practice at visual tracking.
Step
3
Switch the cups at random
Now that your canine companion can track where the treat is going to be, it’s time to bring the challenge to the next level -- moving the cup to a different position every time. It’s best to start slowly at first, but as Fido gets better, you can increase the speed!
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Toy Car Chase

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Any Day
Moderate
Easy
30 - 45 mins
Items needed
Remote-controlled car
Treat or toy
Activity description

If you really can’t move, and your buddy needs to, having them chase a remote-controlled toy car is a grrr-eat way to get them going while you stay stationary. You can even do this activity from your bed if necessary! However, if you don’t have small, vehicle-obsessed children, a remote-controlled car might be a bit of an investment. This one can work both indoors and out, but it might be best to do it outside if your pooch is on the larger side. If you do have small, vehicle-obsessed children, you can ask them to assist. Otherwise, all you’ll need is the car, a treat, and a fairly good awareness of things that your pup can bump into.

Step
1
Attract your dog to the car
Unless your doggo has a tendency to chase after anything than moves, you’ll need to give them a reason to run after the car. A favorite treat or a piece of food should do the job, or maybe a treasured item if they’re particularly toy-motivated. Whatever it is, make sure to position it so that it doesn’t fall off, or it’s game over!
Step
2
Get comfortable
As with stairball, it’s best to get comfortable -- you could be here a while! Although you can control the car from anywhere (with some options, you don’t even need to be in the car’s line of sight), it’s best to make sure that you can see your pupper in case of accidents or property damage.
Step
3
Watch your dog go!
Now it’s time for the fun part! Control the car and watch it whizz around the room or yard as your buddy tries to catch the treat. You may need to be conscious of speed here -- larger dogs with longer legs can catch up with a toy car rather easily, but it’s best not to go too fast indoors.
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More Fun Ideas...

Give them a food puzzle to solve

Like the shell game, food balls and puzzle toys can keep your buddy mentally stimulated. A food puzzle is exactly what it sounds like -- a brain challenge your pup will need to complete before the toy dispenses food or treats. They’re available in most pet stores.

Take them swimming

This will definitely depend on your mobility level and location, but if you can leave the house and there’s a dog-friendly beach, river, or creek nearby, swimming is pawesome way for a pup to get exercise off-leash and with little input from you.

Laser pointer chase

For some dogs, flashlights and laser pointers can work almost as well as a toy car, plus they give you a greater ability to control the speed.

Conclusion

Having your movement restricted isn’t fun, whether it’s after minor surgery or a major operation. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your fur-ever friend busy, just that it’s time to get creative! Have fun with these exercises, and keep in mind that having your pooch by your side is a wonderful way for you to feel better.