Spending a lot of time at home, for whatever reason, can be a hassle for both you and your dog. But spending time indoors does not mean that you cannot stimulate and entertain your pet: there are endless options to encourage her physically and mentally. Therefore, the next time you are looking for how to entertain your dog and at the same time strengthen your bond, you can try some of the games and activities that we propose below.
Look for the award
Teaching your dog to discover treats using only his nose is a great game for the body and mind. While all dogs have a great sense of smell, sometimes they have to be reminded to use it, and this exercise can get your dog excited about solving the hidden treat problem. Place a few opaque boxes or containers upside down next to each other and, without your dog seeing it, hide underneath a treat, a favorite toy, a bone … whatever you think your companion might want. Next, encourage your dog to smell the boxes. If he stops at the one with the award, pick up the box and enthusiastically congratulate him on his discovery. Of course let him eat the treat, look for the toy, or enjoy whatever treats he finds under the box. If you repeat it over time, your dog will know how to anticipate and will be excited to play this game.
If your dog knows the command “search” or a similar term that means to go find something hidden, then hide and seek is a great indoor game for fun. To play, simply show your dog what you are going to hide, again it can be his favorite toy, or even a person!, And then put it in a place where he cannot see it.
Hide the item, then go find your dog and tell her to find it. Give him clues if he needs help, like “great!” when he gets closer or “nooo!” when it gets further away. Give clues if necessary, by pointing or walking to the hideout, until your dog really understands what this game is about. When you find the hidden item, make the praise or award worth as much as all the effort you put into locating that item. Over time, you will realize what the game is about and it will become faster and faster to search and find.
Below, above and through
Training your dog to do tricks that require physical skills will help them exercise the mind and body, which makes teaching certain tricks perfect for spending energy at home for example during a rainy day. One of the skills you can teach your dog is to train him to go under, over, or through furniture such as chairs, stools, or hula hoops.
For example: place the stool near your dog and through the use of treats, teach him to pass through the legs while saying a command like “cross”, then do the same to teach him “up” and “down” .
Once she knows how to do it, you can ask her to make matches before she earns her reward. With the passage of time and repetitions, you will not need the reward to encourage him to do so, since he will know how to relate your command to the action he must perform. If your dog already knows these commands, it will be much easier and faster to carry out this entertaining exercise.
Run down a ladder
If you have a ladder, make it a game to climb it and burn some energy with your pet. To get the most out of this game with the least risk to your dog’s joints, start at the bottom of the stairs. Put your dog in a sitting position and throw a toy or ball upstairs. If you wish, you can make it more exciting and work on impulse control at the same time by keeping it at a certain distance from the stairs, until you give the order so that it can go up to look for the object. Let your dog run up the stairs as fast as she can to retrieve the toy and come back down the stairs at her own pace, encouraging a slower return, as it is the descents that are really dangerous for injury. After a few repetitions, your dog will be exhausted.
Setting up an obstacle course for your dog and helping him learn how to get around obstacles is a lot of fun. A lot of work, sure, but in situations like confinement, where you have to spend a lot of time indoors, it can be a lot of fun for both of you. Here are some suggestions on what to use:
- A sturdy plastic box, stool, or other item for balance.
- A kitchen chair to jump or run under.
- A box with two open ends that he can crawl through.
- An obstacle (a box would be enough) that you can jump.
- A hula hoop to jump.
- A frisbee or a ball to catch.
Create some obstacles and guide your dog through each one. Make sure to reward your dog with lots of praise or other high-value rewards for him each time he makes it through the obstacle course. Use your imagination! Most importantly, have a good time, and adapt the game to your dog’s physical ability and the types of tricks he enjoys the most, making sure to offer lots of praise for his attempts to overcome obstacles.