Ways to amuse a water-loving dog--without water
May 23, 2015 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm petsitting a dog who loves to play in water, and normally when I petsit for her, water play happens and she knows to expect that from me. But drought and weather are making all of that a bad idea. Now what?

I'm petsitting an adorable corgi who loves to "bite the water." She loves either (a) biting at running water such as a hose or shower, or (b) being splashed with water out of the pool--she runs at it and bites at it. However, (a) drought, and (b) very breezy, rather cold weather means that these things should not be happening, and I just don't want to be soaking wet myself in this level of wind.

The doggie has her hopes up whenever we like, walk past a door, and she's clearly disappointed and sad. We briefly ran the hose for like 2 minutes and that seemed to please her a bit, but she still does bark when she thinks water is possible, and if we take her for a walk she's gonna run to the hose and bark at it. Which is not to say that she won't get a walk, but she can get difficult when outside and she knows where water is, and my fellow pet-sitter* is nervous about getting her to go back indoors, which she's not always super cooperative about doing on walks. (Note: I'm the "relief pet-sitter" when the first person needs to be out of the house for several hours. I just want to play with the dog all day.) Doggie is also not allowed near the shower because getting her out is difficult.

I just feel so bad that we're letting her down, but....yeah, shouldn't be doing these things. I've pondered the idea of putting her in the bathtub and letting her sit in water, but that doesn't seem to be her interest--she likes ACTIVE water.

Anyone have any ideas on alternative activities we can do with her? She's never seemed terribly interested in catch or fetching stuff beyond her chew toy either.
posted by jenfullmoon to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
What about a tub full of water and things like squirt guns or an aquabot hexbug that will keep the water an active place?
posted by phunniemee at 7:17 PM on May 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Introduce her to a totally new game? Would she like the flirt pole? Or a Kong Wobbler-style of food toy? They have that "active" play feel.
posted by apennington at 7:29 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ice cube = awesome fun toy. Bonus: melts into water.
posted by Specklet at 7:33 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Water in the bathtub for her to splash around in?
posted by erst at 7:35 PM on May 23, 2015

I have a dog that loves to chase the hose, but next to that the flirt pole is her favorite thing in the world (I swear I heard her perk up just now when I typed the words) so there's one data point of corroboration. It doesn't have to be as fancy as the one in apennington's link, ours is just a rag tied to a piece of PVC with a length of clothesline. She LOVES it, I exhaust her with it every morning before I leave for work.

My drought solution for hose play is to use a trigger nozzle with a good directed stream and have her help me water the fruit trees; if I stand in the middle of our little orchard and spray one tree, then another, then that one way over there, then back to the first one again, she gets a good workout and the water still gets put to good use.
posted by contraption at 8:03 PM on May 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Bubbles or a flirt pole. I had Jack Russells growing up who loved biting and chasing moving water just as obsessively as you describe this Corgi, and they also loved to chase and leap at and bite at moving bubbles. And flirt poles give the same sensation of getting to chase! and bite! as the water is giving her. FWIW you can also make a perfectly good one by buying a cheap lunge whip (designed for horses) and tying a stuffed toy or a bit of rag to it if you're feeling lazy. For a smallish dog (like a corgi!) a wand designed for cats can also actually work okay for an indoor toy.

One last suggestion--does she like tug? If you play with it like you'd entice a cat to attack a toy and then tug at the rope and wrestle with her, she might find that a VERY appealing game if her preferred style of play is very bitey-grab it-control-motion-of-moving thing, as many herders are. Find something else that moves all the time which she can grab and bite without damaging, basically, and you should be good.
posted by sciatrix at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2015

First idea: Look for a doggie pool park in your area. There is one near my dad's house in Southern California and they can splash around with other dogs. Still open in the drought.

Second idea: A squirt gun! Capture the cool water run while waiting for hot water at the taps in a bucket and fill your gun with less guilt.

Third idea: Dog beach if you are near the coast.
posted by cecic at 9:30 PM on May 23, 2015

I don't know if you could get a portable/camping shower from a store near you, but it turns the tub into a shower that just uses the same water over and over.
posted by anaelith at 4:25 AM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

You obviously need a super soaker water pistol.
posted by h00py at 5:33 AM on May 24, 2015

A consumer garden hose turned up to full blast uses something like 2 gallons a minute. If you use a spray gun or your thumb over the opening and turn the water flow down, you could easily bring that down by a factor of 4 or more. In comparison, even the best low flush toilet uses at least 1.5 gallons and a low-flow shower uses more than a gallon per minute. 10 minutes of doggy play with the hose turned down is equivalent of a flush or two, or an extra minute in the shower. Given that consumers use only around 20% of California's water, we're talking about a drop in the bucket when it comes to the drought. Every little bit helps, but making a dog very happy is also a good thing.

On the other hand, that doesn't help the cold wet dog problem. Going for a drinking-fountain-like stream she can bit but not become soaked in seems like the way to go. Perhaps a squirt gun as others have mentioned, or a very small opening in a hose (wine cork with a hole in it?).

If you feel like donating a $20 toy to the pet's owner (or think they'll reimburse you), a submersible fountain pump and a few feet of hose can turn a bath tub or kiddy pool into an endless fountain. A few inches of warm water in the bathtub could provide hours of entertainment.
posted by eotvos at 9:40 AM on May 24, 2015

Response by poster: Well, here's the results for the things I could try- couldn't really set up a new hose/fountain pump/pool thing, no dog beach/water park around, didn't find a flirt pole (but kind of figured if it didn't squirt she wouldn't care).

* Turning water flow down on the hose: somewhat worked, but she wasn't as interested as usual and barely barked when it was turned off.
* Water gunning: totally indifferent, didn't care, barely noticed it was hitting her in the face.
* Bubble gun: not only did she not care about bubbles, she did not like it (noise factor would be my guess) and it drove her inside the house. Twice. Though I guess the good news is we could use it whenever she doesn't want to come back inside the house....
* Tubbing: didn't quite try this, but she did briefly jump into the pool today, looked around/stood in it for a few minutes, then hopped back out again and hasn't gone back in since--just barks at me to splash her again. Which answers my questions about "would she like to sit in water, what about that?" I always wondered about.

Darn it. I guess they all don't have enough hard-pounding water enough for her tastes. Well, thanks anyway folks, I thought some of those had to work :(
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:43 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's a long shot--if you can get your hands on a vacuum that has a "blow" as well as "suck" feature, put the hose in the "blow" outlet and try hitting her with air instead of water. (Even cheap shop vacs often have this option, if you know someone who has one of those.) (Also obviously you should point it at yourself first to check the intensity level.)
posted by anaelith at 8:26 PM on May 24, 2015

The flirt pole was the answer to a question I didn't even know I had! Perfect for my high-energy cattle dog mix. (I know I'm not answering the question, but I wanted to say thanks)
posted by O9scar at 9:41 PM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older Non-grilled barbeque sides and dessert?   |   Evaluating a job offer in Silicon Valley Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.