Activities For Dogs Under 10 Pounds

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Introduction

Even though small dogs can have big personalities, they're still at a bit of a disadvantage compared to other, larger dogs when it comes to pure physicality - especially when they're under 10 pounds! They can get trampled at the dog park (or even at home for those who aren't careful), be taken advantage of because of their size, and may even be at the mercy of predatory birds and other animals, depending on where they live. Because of it, many require a bit of extra care and mindfulness from their owners, including specific activities you can do with them. While they may not be able to hike or bike long distances like their big-boned kin, there's certainly still plenty of ways to enjoy their toy company.

Double Dog Fort

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Any Day
Free
Easy
10 - 60 min
Items needed
Pillows
Blankets
Couch
Cardboard
Activity description
Some little dogs can get tired easily and because of it, you should also have activities in mind that are less labor-intensive, which is why building a dog fort is the perfect activity. It is limited to mostly indoors (unless you have blankets you don't mind getting dirty outside) because the necessary furniture is already ready to go. It's cheap, easy, takes only minutes to set up by can take up much more depending on how elaborate you want to make it, and since it's mostly done indoors, works in all weather.
Step
1
Gather materials
You really won't need much for this activity, which is part of what makes it so great. The living room is easily the best place to start because half your materials are likely already in place. Grab a few extra bed pillows, a dog bed, some larger, sturdier boxes or cardboard, and some lightweight blankets (small, light fleece blankets are usually perfect). Make sure to move anything breakable nearby and move the coffee table out of the way if you plan on building on the floor instead of the couch (although either work just fine).
Step
2
Build it
Start by picking the location for their home base, aka the dog bed. The best places are usually right in front of the couch or on one of the seats closest to the arm rest. Using either pillows, cardboard, or both, prop them up on the outer edges of the dog bed so they provide at least a few inches of clearance over the dog bed. Drape your lightweight blanket over the top, pulling the edges so the top is as taught as possible with minimal sagging. You now have the minimal fort constructed for your dog to relax in. Invite them in and see how they like it (most do, since dogs prefer den-like sleeping quarters).
Step
3
Expand it
If you put in enough effort and have enough materials, you can make pretty elaborate structures out of just light blankets, cardboard, pillows and best yet, simple clothes pins. Use other pieces of furniture to form barriers, hallways, and foundational support. Side tables, heavy vacuums, dog crates, chairs and the like can all be used to hold up blankets and create a maze of tunnels. See how big you can make it! You can either create more play space inside for when they're done relaxing, or even just an elaborate tent to watch TV together in. Use your imagination and gauge their reaction as you build, doing your best to make it as entertaining for them as it is for you!
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Mini Agility Course

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Any Day
Free
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Books
Boxes
Broom
Treats
Activity description
Most small dogs get exercise pretty easily, as it takes considerably more energy to move the same distance as a larger dog. At under 10 pounds, their toy size should have them exercising constantly! But for many higher-energy breeds, trotting around the house may not be enough, let alone nowhere near entertaining enough for these often brainy breeds, which is why building them a mini agility course is the perfect way to stimulate both mind and body. The best part? You can use materials you already have as long as you're even the least bit creative, it takes little time to set up, can be played for as long or short as you both like, and because of it, it's a free, easy activity you can do almost anytime you're inside (or out, if you have the right supplies).
Step
1
Pick your skills
If you've had your dog for more than a week or two, chances are you already know where their physical abilities lie. Some small dogs are great jumpers, others are great crawlers, some stick to just running. Whatever the case may be, take a minute or two and put together a small mental list of their physical capabilities and what you think they may be able to learn or do in general, as that will help give you a better scope of your soon-to-be agility course. Once you have your list, collect some supplies. If they are good jumpers, grab a few small books you think they can hurdle. If they're good at crawling, grab a broom and other props to hold it up.
Step
2
Set up the course
Once you've picked your skills and gathered materials, find an appropriate room to set up in, preferably one with a healthy amount of space. Start by setting up your skills challenges spaced out, so your dog comfortably has enough room to complete the skill without the fear of running into everything. Once you've got everything in place, invite them in and introduce them to each skill, one at a time. Use treats and praise to get them to learn what it is you want them to do, from jumping to crawling to balancing and the like at each individual station, not moving on until they are fully comfortable completing each activity with relative ease and comfort. Once they've got a few down, rearrange your course in a line so there is enough room to complete each skill but are close enough to each other to do them in succession.
Step
3
Build up the skills
Chances are, unless your dog is super smart or treat motivated, it may take a few tries to get them all of the way through, depending on how many skills you've set up. Try running them through two at a time instead of all at once, as some may take comfort and adjustment in between. If they have to crawl then jump, start with just those two until they're comfortable. If after the jump they have to weave (say between some chair legs), then work on jumping and weaving. Continue this process until the end, stringing together two, then three, then more skills together until they move through the course fluidly. Once they've got it all down, go for the whole thing at once! You can even introduce a timer and see how quick you can get them to go through it or just concentrate on one activity like jumping to see if you can ramp up their skills individually.
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Accessibility Ramp

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
1 - 3 hrs
Items needed
Dog Treats
Tools, Screw and Nails
Measuring Tape
Circular Saw
pieces of wood and carpet
Masking tape
Rubber feet
Carpet adhesive
Activity description
Accessibility might be the greatest hindrance to dogs under 10 pounds. Even if they have the ability to jump well (given that they are allowed on the furniture), that doesn't guarantee that they have no chance of falling, let alone hurting themselves getting back down. And of course, you can't always be there to help them up or down. A simple solution? Build a ramp! Yes, you can always buy one if you feel so inclined, but if you're the least bit handy, the cost of materials will likely be nearly half that of purchasing one, plus it gives you something to do and the perfect test subject to help you design it. It does take a fair amount of time, cost, and materials, depending on what you have, but as long as you have a place to build it inside or under cover, it can be done in all types of weather. And the best part? You can use it anywhere they might need it once it's built.
Step
1
Prep the build
There are numerous types of ramps you can build but realistically, if your dog is under 10 pounds, chances are you won't even need a hammer, nails, screwdriver or screws -- although they'll be necessary if you plan to use the ramp for multiple dogs including those over 10 pounds. You really just need a board wide enough for them to walk up and a way to cut it, hence the circular saw. Once you've gathered those few materials, take your tape measure and get height measurements for furniture where they spend the most time, likely the couch or bed. Write the measurements down on a piece of paper for reference later. Generally speaking, for a dog to be able to use a ramp comfortably, it should be twice as long as it is tall.
Step
2
Start the build
Once you've gotten your measurements, it's time to start construction. Remember your length-to-height ratio. If you need 16 inches of height, then you'll need 32 inches of length. It's possible to calculate the length of board you'll need to span the angle between the two, but for sake of ease, you can just measure, in this case, 32 inches out from the couch, and mark it with tape, then run your measuring tape up at an angle over your couch. Mark or write down the appropriate length and add four inches as a cushion. Now you're ready to make your cuts. Cut your boards with a circular saw to produce a board wide enough for your dog to walk on and the desired length you marked earlier. Once you've got that piece cut, trim your carpet scraps to an appropriate size and adhere them with carpet adhesive.
Step
3
Finish and test
Once you've got your board cut and your carpet glued on, you're nearly finished. Depending on the dog, size of the ramp, and location, you may need to add a few additional elements. If you used plywood, it can tend to get flimsy without reinforcement, but can be solved by attaching a few 2x2" runners on the bottom with screws or nails (just make sure you have the appropriate length so they're not sticking out!). We also recommend either sanding or cutting the couch-end of the board at an angle or rounding it off so as not to harm the furniture. If the bottom rests on carpet, it won't likely move too much, but if it's on hardwood, don't hesitate to attach rubber feet or something similar so it doesn't move (especially when your dog uses it!). The absolute final step? Have them test it out! Use treats if they're apprehensive but most dogs will be thrilled to have new, easy access to their favorite spots.
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More Fun Ideas...

Photo Shoot

Small dogs are great for photography for many reasons, especially dogs under 10 pounds. They're easy to move around, fit in small spaces, and better yet, even easier to frame because you can capture more of their bodies than you could a larger breed's. And you don't even need to have them sit still. If you know cameras well enough or have a fast enough lens and shutter, you can catch some great mid-action shots while you play or do other activities.

Find the Treat

Small dogs might not be able to sniff very high, but that doesn't mean you can't hide some treats on the floor for them. Pick a room with a lot of low-level objects, keep them out while you hide the treats, then let them in and let them hunt!

Hide and Seek

Compared to larger dogs who can look and smell a greater range of heights, small dogs are a bit more limited, but that can also make things more fun. They'll have to stay distracted (say by a toy or treat) or at least listen well enough to stay until you call or whistle, but given their short stature, you should be able to hide up on things where they may be less likely to look, giving you more hiding places than with an average-sized dog.

Conclusion

Just because they're under 10 pounds doesn't mean your dog can't still have some fun or get into things larger dogs may be able to. Even beyond this list, think of ways to help your toy-sized dog access activities and areas that they may be currently restricted to. Helping them navigate your home and the world can be a rewarding experience, especially if they're adventurous enough to join you in new activities. They still may be limited by their size in some capacity, but as long as you do your best to minimize those things that stand in their way, chances are they'll be internally grateful for your efforts and attention and show you in a big, little-dog way.