With shorter days, it is quite a challenge to keep our dogs fit and active. But with a touch of creativity, you can enjoy a lot of fun exercises indoors to keep your dog happy and entertained.
Here is a list of games the team at Monty and Minx Calamvale Vet has put together for you to try.
#1 Find the Treats
Use the bits of kibble or your dogs’ favourite treats. Have him stay while you hide treats around the house. In the beginning, place them in plain sight to get them used to the idea. After a few rounds, you can bring in more challenge by hiding the treats in tougher spots.
#2 Hide and Seek
Keep your dog still while you hide. If your dog knows how to “stay”, it will make this game much easier. But if it does not, you may need assistance on this one. This all-time favourite indoor game is awesome because it is so simple.
#3 The “Which Hand” Game
Is your dog still on the nose work? Just take a piece of kibble or dog treat and place it in one of your hands. Have your dog pick which hand it is, after you hold both of your hands out.
# 4 Put Your Toys Away
Have your dog pick up a toy near where they normally are stored. Then tell your dog to “drop it” while standing over the toy box. This may take a while to getting used to but with patience and a lot of praise, you will end up with a dog that can clean up after their mess.
#5 Free Shaping Games
This game allows you to train on a new behaviour by encouraging your dog’s ability to learn. Based on small steps, one of the easiest way to start with shaping is by using a prop like a box. The next step is to have your dog touch the box without any signals. Set out a box in front of you, grab a signal-maker (i.e. a clicker) and then wait for your dog to touch the box. Give him or her praise once they touch the box in any way.
#6 Learning Toy Names
Start with one specific toy and start using a name for it. Dogs are known to tend put a value on their toys and by repeating the name while playing it, they will also start to pick up on the name you are using it with. Studies show that dogs have roughly the same intelligence as a 2 year old child, which means they have the capability of learning over 200 words.
#7 Three Cup Game
Get out 3 cups and line them up in a row in front of your dog. Put a treat under one of the cups while your dog is watching. Give him the OK command to show you which one is the right cup. Make it more challenging by mixing the cups around after you place the treat.
#8 Puzzle & Interactive Dog Toys
With so many interactive dog toys out there, you can choose by understanding your dog’s interests first. If your dog likes to chase, make your own chase toy by attaching a toy to the end of a rope. Put the toy onto a stick so you can wave it around for your dog to chase. You can also place treats in the tin & cover them up with the tennis balls and voila, you got yourself a DIY dog puzzle.
#9 Trick Training
Dogs love positive reward-based training so why not teach them a trick or two. Stock up on plenty of yummy treats and keep training sessions relatively short. Keep your expectations realistic and keep the task light-hearted and both you and your pooch will have great fun together.
Enrichment can be made from almost anything around the house. You can fill a cardboard box with toys, treats and newspaper to make a search game. A toilet roll tube can have treats inside with the ends of the tube squashed in. You can drop treats or kibble into a plastic bottle for a cheap and easy activity toy; just make sure to remove the ring and cap first and keep a close eye on your dog, especially those powerful chewers!
Think of the breed – Some problems can arise in a home when we don’t consider or value breed traits and what the dog was originally bred for. Although they are unlikely to be ‘at work’, the natural urge to perform such behaviours may be strong, even in domestic pets, and your dog will get a great amount of satisfaction from activities that keep their breed traits in mind. For instance, Labradors were originally bred to retrieve, Spaniels to track scents and Terriers to hunt out vermin.
Games can be made from almost anything in the home, so you can use your imagination. An indoor ball pit with treats scattered in can satisfy the natural urge to dig. Hide and seek games, using upturned flower pots or buckets to hide treats or toys, can be great for those that love to track things down and retrieve.
HOW DID YOU GO? Head over to our Facebook page and share photos your dog trying some of these games. We would love to know!