During the summer, it’s easy to tire your dog out at the park or in your backyard. But as the grass turns brown and it gets too cold to bear, you and your dog might start feeling cooped up. Bored dogs start to look for creative ways to entertain themselves – sometimes, by destroying things around the house.
Satisfy your dog’s need for physical and mental stimulation by trying these fun indoor activities all winter long.
1. Hide and seek
Hide and seek is a great way to teach your dog to stay and come. If your dog is still learning these basic commands, you can have a friend hold the dog back while you find a hiding spot. Make a big deal when your dog finds you – throw treats in the air and say “Yay, you found me!” Hide and seek makes recall fun. You don’t need a lot of space to play. You can hide under blankets and behind doors to quickly get out of your dog’s line of sight. They’ll love finding you again and again.
2. Stair Climber
For high-energy dogs, climbing stairs is a fast way to burn calories and build muscle. Make a game of running up and down the stairs while your dog follows you. Avoid playing on stairs if your dog has signs of arthritis or is afraid to go up or down.
3. Indoor Agility
Whether your dog is an agility star or has never tried it, indoor agility is a fun winter activity. There are indoor agility sets you can purchase, but it’s also fun to get creative with materials you already have. You can teach your dog to jump over and weave through toys, furniture, even your own legs.
Contrary to popular belief, tug games do not make dogs aggressive or “dominant.” In fact, a 2001 study on dog-human play behavior showed that dogs that played tug, wrestling and fetch become more confident and easier to train.
Use a long rope or stuffed toy to place plenty of distance between your hands and your dog’s jaws. Let your dog win at least 50% of the time. You can combine tug games with training for commands like “grab” and “let go.”
5. Bob for Apples
If your dog loves playing in pools and lakes in the summer, they’ll love some indoor water play. You can float some sliced apples in a large bowl, tub or shallow dish of water and watch your dog have a blast trying to grab the treats. You can also use bits of deli meat, biscuits – anything that floats. Be careful of using treats that sink, as your dog could inhale water. This could get messy – you might want to try this in your kitchen or bathroom, and set down some old towels.
Fetch isn’t just for retrievers – any dog can learn. Once your dog gets the hang of fetch, you can teach them useful tricks like “put your toys away,” or “get the socks out of the dryer.”
7. Find It
If your dog likes hide-and-seek, they’ll love playing “find it.” Have your dog stay, and let them watch you hide a treat or toy. Release them by saying, “find it!” Praise and reward when they find the cache.
You can play this game with household objects like keys and remote controls – soon, your dog will be able to help you find lost items around the house.
You can even sign your dog up for formal k9 nosework classes and competitions to hone their skills.
8. Red Light, Green Light
A stop-and-go game can teach your dog impulse control. Your dog can learn to stop on a dime – which is helpful if they’re about to run into the road, for example. It’s easiest to teach this on a leash. Run ahead a few steps, then stop and say “stop!” or “red light!” When your dog stops with you, reward them. Then say “go!” or “green light” as you start running again. As your dog gets the hang of it, you can try without the leash. When it gets warm out, you can practice outdoors.
9. Doggy Dancing
You can teach your dog a variety of tricks that you can combine and set to music to create a fun doggy dance routine. Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to weave through your legs, spin, circle around you and walk with their paws on your feet.
10. Solve Puzzle Toys
You can create food puzzles or shop online for toys from Kong and Ethical Pet. You can fill puzzle toys with treats or kibble. You can even get rid of the dog bowl for the winter and find creative ways for your dog to forage for their food.
Fight Boredom When You’re Not Home
Your dog’s professional pet sitter and dog walker from Ready Pet Go will keep your dog entertained and out of mischief when you’re not around.
Contact us today to learn more!