We all love taking our dogs for some good outdoor fun, but depending on the weather or air quality, it can sometimes be a little tricky to go on long walks or trips to the park safely. That doesn’t mean your pup should be sedentary; in fact, there are plenty of ways to stay indoors and entertain your companion physically and mentally.
With a little creativity and motivation, your home can be transformed into a canine playground. Here are some ways you can entertain your companion dog while indoors.
We all know dogs are intelligent, so it should come as no surprise that they love games that require a little bit of problem-solving. There are all kinds of dog puzzles that provide all sorts of benefits such as increased mental capacity, a longer attention span, and better behavior overall.
The shell game
All you need for this game are treats and two or more opaque cups. Place a treat under one of the cups while your dog watches, then give a cue to turn over the cup with the treat under it. Next, repeat but switch the cups around a few times so your dog has to think. You can repeat this a few times and raise the difficulty level by adding more cups. This game is great for mental stimulation and increasing focus.
The next time you’re playing a game of fetch, switch gears and try hiding the toy instead of throwing it. Dogs love to sniff things (fire hydrants, strangers, dirty clothes), and this game will put their sense of smell to the challenge. Hide toys around the house to make an interactive treasure hunt (start off hiding them in plain sight until your dog gets the idea), or if you’re short on space, use an old blanket to hide items under for your dog to sniff out.
If you’re working from home and want to keep your dog busy for a while, try using an interactive treat dispensing toy. Not only will it increase problem-solving skills, it will also promote activity and alleviate boredom.
Download a dog training app
If your sweet pup has developed some not-so-sweet habits, such as “disappearing” your shoes, leaving “surprises” on the carpet, or barking excessively, it might be time to download a dog training app. There are different apps that focus on different goals, but what all humane ones have in common is the notion that rewarding good behavior (positive reinforcement) and redirecting unwanted behavior into a positive action will result in a well-behaved dog. If you train with patience, enthusiasm, consistency, and clarity, your dog is likely to have a great time and look forward to each session.
Try some agility
Inject a little imagination into your interactive games by setting up an obstacle course using different household items. You can teach your dog to jump over pillows, weave through table legs, or run through a tunnel (just throw a blanket over some chairs)—all for a reward. The more creative, the better! For more ideas, contact your local dog agility group.
Short but frequent breaks
If you’re at the computer for hours at a time, make sure you’re taking frequent breaks to give your canine companion regular attention. Playing a short game of fetch or tug-of war or running through some training exercises for five or 10 minutes a few times throughout the day will give you both a boost and is a good way to tire your pup out and dispel feelings of boredom.
Hide and seek
For this game, your dog has to be able to sit and stay reliably while you go and hide somewhere in the house. Alternatively, someone else could keep your dog in place until you’ve hidden (preferable with a bag of treats). Call out, “Come!” and then enjoy the show as your dog tries to sniff you out. You can start out hiding in plain sight (like behind a chair) and gradually make your hiding places harder and harder (such as in closets, under beds, on the countertop, etc.). Once discovered, lavishly dole out the treats and praise.
This game requires at least two people, so grab another household member if you have one (the more, the merrier!), your dog’s favorite toy, and start tossing! The challenge for your dog is to try to jump up and grab the toy. This is a fun workout—but do make sure that your pup actually gets to catch the toy after every few tosses as a reward!
Go for a car ride
If bad weather or air quality are keeping you indoors, it might be good to get out of the house by taking your canine companion for a car ride. Riding in the car gives dogs an exciting adventure, allowing them to explore while keeping them out of harsh weather.
Subscribe to a YouTube channel for dogs
The channel Relax My Dog uploads calming music and TV for dogs, featuring drone footage of wide open landscapes and nature trails that help soothe hyperactive canines.
Make homemade treats
You can never have too many dog treats, and showing your dog some extra love with homemade treats is a great way to reinforce good behavior. Or if your pup needs something refreshing to cool down, try freezing treats in ice cubes to make dog-friendly Popsicles!
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