While the dog park’s off-limits during lockdown, finding new ways of keeping your pet entertained at home is the new number one priority for pet owners. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of fun things you can do to keep your pooch happy and your sanity intact. Looking for inspiration? Then look no further than these top ten awesome indoor activities for dogs.
1. Stimulate Their Minds with The Cup Game
Finding activities that work your dog’s mind is just as important as finding ones that work their bodies. For a great way of exercising their little great cells, try the cup game. Simply place a treat under one of three cups, give them a good shuffle, then let your dog sniff out which cup’s hiding the treat. If your dog’s the kind of pooch that needs plenty of mental stimulation to keep them from going stir crazy, this simple little game is ideal.
2. Have A Game of Hide and Seek
As Woman’s Day reports, hide and seek makes a great game for small and medium dogs who don’t need to roam quite as much as their leggier counterparts. Start by planting a treat in an obvious place as they watch. Once they get used to the idea, hide the treats in another room before letting them loose to seek it out.
3. Battle It Out with Tug of War
While the amount and type of exercise your dog needs vary according to age, breed, and general condition, most animal experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. If you can’t get outside, a fun game of tug of war will do wonders at burning off some of their excess energy. According to Whole Dog Journal, the benefits of tug of war don’t end with exercise. As well as teaching your dog self-control and good manners, it can also go a long way to building their confidence and strengthening the bonds of your relationship.
4. Ask Them to Name the Toy
Dogs are capable of learning a lot more than we give them credit for. Put their brains to work by teaching them to recognize the names of their favorite toys. Start slowly by assigning a name to one toy in particular; when playtime comes around, try focusing their attention on that same toy, calling it out by name multiple times over. With a little practice and plenty of affirmative praise, they’ll soon start to get the message.
5. Have Fun with Fetch
You don’t need to go to the park to play fetch. Providing you don’t live in a shoebox-size apartment with a Great Dane, you’ll have more than enough room to enjoy a game at home. As Puppy Leaks notes, hallways, stairways, and big living rooms make the best settings, while kitchens and offices make the worst. Start by removing any fragile or delicate items, then grab a softball and get going. You could even try teaching your dog to catch the ball as you throw it- AKC has some great tips to get you started.
6. Make an Indoor Obstacle Course
No matter how small your home, there’s always enough space for a customized obstacle course. Don’t worry about buying anything new– with a little imagination, you can turn even the most mundane household object into a brain scratching obstacle. Set up a row of chairs and teach them to crawl under (or even jump over) them; grab a hula hoop and encourage them to jump through; stretch a piece of string between two chairs and get them to crawl underneath, or create a tunnel with a reinforced cardboard box… the opportunities are almost as endless as the amount of fun your dog will have once you’re finished creating.
7. Practice Impulse Control with the Which Hand Game
If your dog’s head is ruled by their belly, they’re going to love the Which Hand Game. The rules are simple: take a piece of kibble or a dog treat and hide it in your hand. Hold both hands out toward your dog, then let them sniff out which hand’s holding the treat. As well as being a great introduction to nose work, it’s also an excellent way of teaching them some impulse control.
8. Tempt Them to a Box of Treats
If you’ve got a few cardboard boxes hanging around, put them to good use with this fun game. Scatter the boxes around the living room, tuck a few pieces of kibble into them, then let your dog figure out the best way of getting through the box to the treat inside. Every dog uses a slightly different approach – some will learn how to nudge the boxes open, and others will rely on brute force to rip them apart. Whatever method they use, they’re guaranteed a lot of fun in the process.
9. Treat Them to a Frozen Kong
You know the feeling. No sooner do you open your laptop to get down to business, your dog’s clawing at your legs, sticking their nose in your lap, and generally doing anything and everything they can to keep your attention firmly on them. If this sounds depressingly familiar, then say ‘hello’ to the frozen kong. Treat dispensers are great for solo entertainment, and a frozen kong will stretch out the pleasure for even longer.
10. Sweat It Out on the Treadmill
Struggling to find ways of burning off your pet’s excess energy? The answer might be simpler than you think. If you have a treadmill, use it to walk or jog with your dog for around 20 -30 minutes a day. You might need some treats to encourage them to set foot on it the first time around, but there’s no going back once they get used to it. Just remember that no matter how confident they seem jogging away on their own, you should always stay on hand to supervise.