Activities For Small Lazy Dogs

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Introduction

For some owners, small, lazy dogs can be ideal, especially for those who run a tight schedule (leaving less time for exercise) or those who have a smaller living space. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't still have organized activities for you and your dog to partake in. After all, lazy can also sometimes mean bored or unhealthy! Whether you choose to indulge them in their laziness or find something that will stimulate them instead, here are a few ideas to get the two of you started on your path to entertainment.

Treat Ball

Popular
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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
5 - 30 min
Items needed
Treat-dispensing ball
Treats
Activity description
Generally speaking, small, lazy dogs come in two varieties: those with low energy drives like Bulldog mixes or Pekingese, and those that are older, unhealthy or under-stimulated. Whatever the case may be, chances are that your dog is still interested in food and treats, which can be a great way to get them moving around. Treat ball is a great way to motivate them to exercise and is about as simple as it gets in terms of activities. All you need is a toy ball that either holds or dispenses treats, some low calorie treats, and a little bit of open floor space. It costs nothing if you already have the supplies and very little if you don't. It's generally best played indoors to save from distraction or potentially losing treats, but if done right, can transition outside in the right conditions.
Step
1
The setup
If your dog is particularly lazy, you may need to figure out which treats will work as the best motivation. Pick out some low calorie treats in one of your dog's favorite flavors and test them out inside the treat ball to make sure they don't shake free too easily. Once you've got a few wedged inside, find a room with enough floor space to move around so you and your dog won't bump into anything. Once you've got your spot picked out, call them in or lure them in with a treat, then let them sniff the ball to get them excited. Once they've committed to following the ball, you're ready to start!
Step
2
Play ball!
Once you've got their attention, figure out the threshold of their attention. If they don't move well because of weight or age, start slow by rolling the ball away from them and making them chase it a short distance. If they're really motivated, try rolling it further and faster so they have to work harder to catch it. If they seem to be losing interest, break off a small piece of a treat and reward them for playing, but make sure they go back to being active and aren't just trying to get free treats. The more you can get them to play with fewer treats, the better, as you want to make sure they're burning more than they are taking in for the sake of health.
Step
3
Make it regular
Try different ways to engage them with simple toys they'll stay motivated to play with for a while by seeing if they prefer to fetch or chase, near or far. Make a game of it if you can and make sure to do your best to keep them excited about being active. Once you establish what they enjoy, you can make a habit of it, so their laziness is more a product of being actually tired than bored, which is considerably healthier in the long run and will help them live happier and longer lives.
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Puzzle Toys

Popular
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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
10 - 30 min
Items needed
Puzzle toy or game
Low-calorie treats
Activity description
Not all small, lazy dogs have the capacity to actively play due to their overall age and health, but that doesn't mean they can't do something that at least stimulates them mentally. Many dogs end up being lazy simply because their owners assume it's a choice, rather than a product of under-stimulation, which can eventually become a standard if it's habitual. Mentally, it doesn't take all that much to entertain a dog as long as they're motivated to participate, which isn't hard if they like treats! Puzzle toys and games are one of the best ways to achieve this, as they get your dog to problem solve, won't give up too many treats easily, aren't generally size-dependent (so they work for larger dogs too if need be), don't take too much participation on your part, can be done just about anywhere, and are relatively cheap. The only real cost is buying the puzzle game itself, which generally runs somewhere between $10-$30 depending on the type and complexity.
Step
1
Finding the right game
Finding the right game or toy is probably the most difficult part of the process. Take a look at what toys your dog actively interacts with and note the type of material (plush, plastic, hard, soft) as well as how they interact with it - do they roll it around, chew on it, chase it? Once you've got an idea of what they might like, search online to see what possibilities exist that may have a similar play style, or better yet, take them to the pet store and see in person which they may be inclined to play with. Once you've figured out what they like (or might like), buy it and bring it home.
Step
2
Fill it up
Once you get it home, fill it up with some appropriately-sized treats you know they'll be motivated to get. If need be, use low-calorie treats in case they figure it out quickly and gobble up all their treasure before you can stop them. Set it on the floor and call them in. Make sure to watch and see how long it takes them to figure out the game and how well they do with it overall, helping them if they get stuck too long so they don't lose interest altogether. If they like it, try breaking up their regular laziness with random bouts of puzzle time when they are most prone to just laying around or catch them right before they plop down for a long lay. With any luck, you may train them to be more proactive in seeking out their own entertainment even if you don't offer the puzzle game, therefore improving their mental and physical health even when you're not around.
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Exploration Walk

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
10 - 30 min
Items needed
Leash
Treats
Activity description
Ok, it sounds simple, we know. Walks are a standard for every dog owner, even those with small, lazy dogs. But small, lazy dogs still need to get exercise like any other, and if they can't run, jump, swim, or other activities due to a lack of interest, age, size, or other health issues, walks are generally the easiest and cheapest forms of exercise they can get. They do require at least decent weather so your dog doesn't freeze, burn, or get soaked, but other than that, they can be ramped up or down in length and intensity, and done on everything from grass to pavement and everything in between.
Step
1
Pick a path
While taking your dog for a walk is about as easy as it gets, not all owners have the luxury of having dogs motivated to participate. For those who don't, grab some low-calorie treats (or highly motivating treats if they're extra reluctant) and get them leashed up, luring them with rewards if need be. If they are only marginally interested, make sure you pick an easy path that won't burn them out too quickly or kill their motivation to continue. The point is to build positive connections with getting exercise, even if it's only a little at a time, so choose a route that won't deter them.
Step
2
Gauge them
While you're on your walk, do everything you can to make sure they're enjoying themselves. If it takes giving a fair amount of treats early on, do what's necessary to get them moving, you can always decrease the amount in the future (at which point they'll already think they're going to get a bunch of treats when they go for a walk, but they can't count anyway!). If they like to stop and smell things, let them as long as they're still getting decent exercise. If it happens too often, you can always redirect them with treats, even if you only give them a small portion. Make sure to watch and see how quickly they get tired. There's nothing like being burned out and being forced to walk all the way back home on their short, exhausted little legs to kill motivation!
Step
3
Make it habitual
If you're patient and observant, chances are after a few reluctant walks, your dog will start to realize that they have a lot more to smell and explore outside than they do inside (and of course the promise of treats doesn't hurt either!). Ramp up the intensity or length of the walks to appropriate it to their energy levels and provide ample motivation for doing so. If all works as planned, you'll have a dog that's more often laying down because they're tired instead of lazy!
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More Fun Ideas...

Hide and Treat

Even small, lazy dogs will appreciate getting treats, but that doesn't mean you have to give them directly to them. Hide some treats around the room when they're not looking and motivate them to get off the couch and hunt.

Dental Chews

Just because your dog likes to lay around doesn't mean they can't be productive. Get them some dental chews to give them something a bit more mentally stimulating than just laying around and help them clean their own teeth in the process!

Cuddle Up and Watch TV

Just because your small dog is lazy doesn't necessarily mean you have to get them exercise all the time. On occasion, indulge both your and their laziness by cuddling up in bed or on the couch and watching some TV. There are even dog TV shows now if they tend to get bored quicker than you do.

Conclusion

Just because your dog is small and lazy doesn't mean they have to stay that way (although they do have to stay small, unless they're a puppy), as there are plenty of ways to both get them up and at 'em and indulge their laziness as well. Finding the right balance is the perfect way to keep your dog happy and healthy, so even if they tend to stay lazy, at least you'll know it's finally a product of choice instead of boredom or under-stimulation!