Keeping our furry friends exercised and well entertained is easy to do when you’re able to step outside and go for a run or leisurely walk around the neighborhood. But when mother nature decides differently with a snowstorm or days of hard rain, it can be a different story. Some pet owners will find it extremely difficult if they have high energy dogs that need their daily exercise routine.
This is where creativity is needed. Setting up indoor activities for your pet keeps you and your dog from going insane while stuck in the house! These are a few tips and tricks to start doing with your canine when being outdoors is not an option…
Keeping up with your pet’s manners is very important because they can get too comfortable while out of their routine. Throughout the day, have your dog perform a random series of commands that they know well, such as Sit, Down, Wait, etc. Not only does this reinforce their skills, it reminds them that they still have to listen, even in the comfort of their home. While doing this, try to test them to see how long they will hold a stay or leave a treat alone before they get frustrated. If they do, end the session with lots of praise and their favorite treat or toy.
2. DIY Agility Course
For dogs that like to jump, crawl, and avoid obstacles, this is the game for them. First, you have to have enough space in your home for your pet to run around without breaking any valuables or hurting themselves. With larger dogs, it can be quite challenging to find space so try your best when finding some space for them.
Some easy obstacles you can introduce to your canine is yourself! By using your legs or arms for them to jump over or crawl under, you are allowing them to get used to the idea of the game while strengthening the bond between the two of you! The best way to do this is against a couch or wall so your pet can only go around you one way. Start low so they can simply step over your limb (preferably the leg) and lead them over with a treat. Continue to do this, gradually increasing the height of your limb so they actually jump. It is easy to transition from jumping to crawling by leading your canine under the obstacle with a treat.
You can start moving away from using your limbs to other objects. Roll up two to three thick blankets to be set end to end for your pet to practice jumping over. Doing this allows them to continue understanding the game while having the item soft if they were to step or drag their feet across while jumping. You can try different soft objects, like pillows, as long as you, the owner, doesn’t mind!
3. Toy Naming
Dogs are very intelligent creatures and can understand up to 150 words, some dogs know even more! Teaching them commands is a form of teaching them words and preferable actions to those words, so naming a toy is not all that different.
Start with selecting a singular toy that your puppy absolutely adores. For this example, we will assume they really like a rubber yellow ball. You are going to choose a name that is short, distinctive, and easy enough for you to remember: ball. While playing with the toy, repeatedly say the toy’s name: “Yes! The ball!” or “Bring the ball here!”. When they pick it up from their pile of toys, praise them a lot while saying the toy’s name.
Repeating this action makes an association for the dog over time and they will eventually understand that when you say the toy’s name, it is time to play with their favorite toy with you!
4. Three Cups and a Treat
A classic puzzle for your pet is using three cups and placing a treat under one of them. Show your puppy that you’ve placed a treat under one of the cups, but allow them to nudge the cup over so they can have the treat. This establishes to them that if they pick correctly, they will earn a reward!
Repeat by showing them you have hidden a treat in one of the cups but this time you will rearrange the cups like a magic trick. A game like this allows them to use their nose and critical thinking skills to figure out where the treat is.
The cups can be replaced by your hands or plastic tupperware (not the clear kind of course) if you don’t have any cups you can play with.
5. Sign Language
As dogs can learn many words, they can learn hand gestures as well. Having a different way of communicating with your animal is a great way to expand their mind. Not only that, it is a very convenient tool for you if you need to be quiet or in a very loud environment where your pet can’t hear you correctly.
Start with the basics by assigning distinct hand gestures to the commands your pet already knows. While doing some refresher trick sessions, incorporate the new gesture by doing it along with the verbal command. Doing it repeatedly will let your puppy create an association in their mind and you can gradually wean off verbal commands.