February 22, 2023 | Tips and Training
Being indoors doesn’t have to be dull. Play some fun games with your dog or teach them something new. Dogs thrive on interactive play, and it has a big impact on their overall health and well-being. To keep your dog entertained and happy you don’t need a bunch of fancy toys or access to the outdoors, you just need a little bit of time and dedication.
Does your dog know all of the basic obedience commands? Does he have a reliable recall and stay? Even well-trained dogs need a refresher course now and then to keep them sharp. All dogs should have a reliable sit, down, stay, drop it, and come here. A few quick training sessions (5-10 minutes) each day are a great way to help your dog master the basics, and they’ll help keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Nose work games are one of the easiest ways to tire out your dog. When you teach your dog some basic nose work games such as ‘find the treats’ you’re mentally tiring them out and helping them hone in on some of their natural skills.
To play all you have to do is grab some treats and have your dog watch in a stay position as you place them around the room. Give your dog the cue to “find the treats” and encourage your dog to pick them up, remembering to praise them every time they find one.
After your confident that your dog understands what “find the treats” means you can make it a bit more challenging. Have them stay in another room as you hide the treats, and start hiding them in spots they have to sniff out such as under a rug.
If your dog’s toys are kept in a container you can give them a lot of mental stimulation by teaching them to put their toys away. I know it sounds weird to teach your dog to clean up after themselves, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Teaching your dog new skills boosts their confidence, and it’s a great way to give them more mental stimulation.
If your dog already knows “drop it” have them pick up a toy and give them their drop it command once they’re standing over the container. Praise them like crazy, then rinse and repeat. Eventually with consistency you’ll have a dog that will be able to clean up after himself.
Stuffed Kongs are a favorite when it comes to relieving dog boredom because they’re so easy to prepare. If you want to keep your dog busy for a while, try stuffing a Kong with some of their favorite treats. You can freeze some peanut butter or broth inside, or just put some treats in there and give your dog something to work for.
Using a stuffed Kong is a great way to keep your dog occupied while you’re at work. Put your stuffed Kong in the freezer overnight and give it to your dog in the morning as you’re leaving. A frozen Kong will last 30+ minutes for most dogs — much longer if your fill it completely.
Have you seen Chaser the Border Collie? She knows over 1,000 words and can pick out any given toy among 800 just by its name. We can’t all be overachievers like Chaser, but we can teach our dogs the names of their toys and make some fun games out of it.
Start by playing with one specific toy and giving it a name while you do. After some practice & praise your dog will assign that verbal name with the chosen toy. Once your dog has learned that specific toys name you can test their skills by seeing if they can pick it out among their other toys.
Once your dog knows the names of some of their toys teach them the “go find it” game. Have your dog’s toys in a pile or container and tell them to “go find” their favorite toy. As your dog gets better at this game you can make it more challenging by increasing the number of toys they have to sift through.
Keep it fun for them by rewarding them handsomely with a treat or quick game of tug when they succeed. This game will give your dog a great mental workout.
Hide and seek might not seem all that complex or entertaining to us, but a lot of dogs get a real kick out of it.
If your dog doesn’t have a good stay command down you can ask a friend to help by having them distract your dog as you go and hide (or you can practice your “stay” before you get started.)
Most of us do have some extra room indoors for a simple game of fetch, but if you live on the 5th floor with a St. Bernard you should probably skip this game. When it comes to playing indoor fetch hallways, stairways, and big living rooms are popular choices.
My dog and I love playing soccer in the basement with her Jolly ball. Be careful with heavy toys around anything that’s fragile or able to be tipped over, and it’s probably not a good idea to play fetch inside the kitchen. If you don’t like the idea of playing fetch indoors you could turn it into a simple game of catch.
Create your own obstacle course inside your home. Have your dog jump over some towels, weave through his toys, and then lay down on a blanket. Use your imagination and come up with a set of obstacles for your dog to follow. Once your dog has learned how to jump over the towels you then move onto the toy weave. Building on prior tricks will keep your dog mentally stimulated and encourages focus.
This is my favorite activity to keep the dog entertained when I’m under the weather. It’s such a simple way to keep my dog happy, entertained & exercised.
I don’t know why but some dogs are fascinated by catching bubbles. There’s even a wide selection of pet bubble making toys on the market. You don’t have to go out and buy special bubbles either – the bubbles that are available for children are nontoxic. Dogs and bubbles are the most adorable thing on the planet.
Studies have found that dogs get bored with their old toys. You can either buy your dog a new toy to get their enthusiasm going or you can rotate their toys. Instead of giving your dog access to all of their toys all the time give them a couple. If you rotate one of their old toys back into the mix after a while they’ll have some of that original enthusiasm back.
You can always make their toys more exciting by ensuring you’re engaging with them by playing fetch or tug. Toys take on a whole new value once you get involved and start playing with it as well. There’s also a ton of DIY toys you can make from household items such as old t shirts, towels, and denim.