At this time of year when daylight is fleeting and the ground is soggy, taking your pooch out for a long walk is sometimes a challenge. Luckily for those days when only a shorter walk is possible, there are plenty of games you can play indoors to keep them entertained. Here are our top 5:
1. Scent Work
Using a selection of 4 or 5 empty boxes or tupperwares, challenge your dog to find the hidden treat.
Without your dog seeing, place a single treat underneath an upturned box alongside the 3 or 4 other upturned boxes.
Then encourage your dog to seek out the treat. When he/she pauses at the correct box, lift it up to reveal the treat, giving them lots of encouragement and praise for finding it. The next time they will understand what is expected of them and have fun trying to find the correct box quickly.
You can always make this more challenging by adding in more boxes.
2. Hide and seek
Similar to the previous challenge, this game requires your dog to find something hidden – whether it’s a treat or an item, but this time you use your entire house as a hiding space. Show your dog the treat or item and then command them to wait whilst you go and hide it somewhere. You can be creative here – place the item just out of their line of sight so they really have to hunt it down.
Once the item is hidden, command for them to ‘find it’ or similar, and then remember to congratulate and praise them once they have found it. This game is really popular and can go on for hours!
3. Obstacle course – under and over
This game is a great way to keep your dog moving whilst being intellectually stimulating.
Set up a sturdy stool which has enough space underneath it for your dog to crawl under. Next, teach your dog how to crawl under the object and stay there, crawl all the way through the object, walk around the object, and how to jump over it entirely.
Instruct your dog to do a variety of these movements, such as ‘under’, ‘over’ or ’round’. You can use treats as a motivator, but bear in mind that you don’t want to encourage your dog to put on weight so opt for something healthy! You can build up the obstacles so that your dog is having to go around/over/under lots of different things – being creative will be more fun for your dog.
4. Stairway run
If you have stairs in your house or apartment, this is an excellent way to give your dog some exercise.
Tell your dog to sit and wait at the bottom of the stairs whilst you throw one of their favourite toys to the top. Keep them waiting there for a good few seconds to build up their excitement, and then finally command them to fetch! Encourage the dog to go quickly until they get to the toy, at which point, let them come down at their own pace to avoid injury. Repeat the process – after 10 or so rounds, your pooch will be puffed out.
Note: this game is only suitable for dogs over 1 year old, whose joints have developed properly. Similarly, do not play with elderly dogs or those with joint problems.
This game is great because it teaches your dog recall skills, whilst getting them to exercise.
First, find a partner to help you as this game requires two people.
The two of you should have some treats to hand, then standing at the opposites side of a room, take it in turns to call your dog over. Once he/she has responded to your call and reached you, reward them with a treat.
Take it in turns to call the dog over, gradually moving further and further apart, until you are in completely different rooms. Space it out as far as possible, calling the dog back and forth. After a short while, you can spread the treats out to every third call-back so that you’re not over-feeding your dog, but make sure to give them lots of extra praise instead.