Indoor activities for your dog
Too bitterly cold for a walk? Is it raining cats and dogs? Looking for something to do with your dog indoors to burn off some energy? Here are some tried and true suggestions!
- Feed your dog his meals in a food-dispensing toy and make him work for his supper! Most major pet stores (and Amazon) carry these products, which include IQ Treat Balls, Tricky Treat Balls and Kong Wobblers.
- Stuff a KONG (and freeze it); this can keep your dog busy for hours. Click here to go to the Kong website for more information.
- Feed your dog his meal one morsel at a time by first tossing a kibble off to the right, and after your dog runs and gets the kibble, tossing the next piece as far as you can to the left. Continue tossing kibble to the right and left until the bowl is empty (or your dog is tired!)
- If you live in a home with stairs, toss a toy down the stairs and have your dog run down to retrieve it and then bring it back up to you. (Do this only if your dog is healthy enough to do stairs!)
- Do you have a treadmill gathering dust? Consider teaching your dog how to use a treadmill (with the help of a professional trainer.)
- Does your dog do agility - or have you thought about trying agility? Click here for some agility training exercises you can do indoors with your dog.
- Outward Hound has a line of interactive dog activity toys that lets your dog search for treats by lifting or pushing blocks, moving discs and pushing buttons. Most higher-end dog stores carry these; you can also search online for "outward hound interactive dog toys."
- Teach your dog the "find it" game:
- Start by having your dog sit and stay. Place a treat on the floor right in front of your dog and tell him to FIND IT. (You may need to point at the treat.) Verbally praise your dog!
- Repeat, but keep moving the treat further and further away. Praise your dog each time he finds the treat.
- Next, hide the treat in an obvious place - perhaps behind the leg of a table or behind a partially closed door. Initially let the dog see you put the treat there (while he is in his sit/stay.) Release the dog and tell him to FIND IT.
- Continue to hide the treats in more and more difficult places.
- Eventually, have your dog sit/stay and hide several treats (some in sight, some out of sight) and tell your dog to FIND IT.
- Once your dog understands what FIND IT means, you can change the game by hiding his favorite toys in lieu of treats.
- Play "hide and go seek" with your dog. Put your dog in a sit/stay (if your dog won't stay, have somebody hold him) while you go hide; then call your dog to find you. This game is great for improving your dogs recall (come) by turning it into a fun game. Praise your dog when he finds you!
- Teach your dog some simple tricks such as crawl, spin, beg, roll over, wave, shake or high-five. One of my favorite tricks books is "101 Dog Tricks" by Kyra Sundance. (You can also search YouTube for Kyra Sundance dog tricks.)
- Sharpen up your dog's sense of smell by playing scent games, or nose games with him. Click here for some games to get your started.
- Firm up your dog's basic obedience cues - most dogs really do love training, particularly if it involves being rewarded with treats. Click here for some games you can play to improve your dogs recall (come).