Have Some Fun Times Indoors with your Dog!
Winter can be hard on humans and canines alike. We take for granted how easy it is to entertain our dogs when the weather is nice. There are so many things to do! But that all comes to a halt when it gets cold outside. So, how can we make sure our dogs don’t go stir-crazy when the weather outside is frightful? Or is that pup bored and doing things to get you to engage?
Here are a few ideas to help keep you and your dog fulfilled when outdoors isn’t an option. These are also great mental stimulation ideas for anytime!
Tricks: Teaching tricks is a GREAT way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Not only do they add to your dog’s range of behaviors, they are also great for helping to develop critical skills like thinking and learning. Tricks can range from super-simple to very extensive and complicated. They are loads of fun and will definitely help tire out your dog. Need some trick ideas? Check out our Trick Tuesday playlist.
Shaping: This is a fun way to expel some mental energy and add to your dog’s understanding of behaviors you are working on.
Scent Games: Teach your dog to find the cookie! This is a fabulous game for getting in a good deal of mental stimulation without a lot of space or resources. Start off simple. Hide a cookie in plain sight. Have your dog out of the room while you do. When you let them in, tell them to “find the cookie!” Help them out if necessary, by pointing out the cookie. Remember that they won’t initially understand the game. Also, dog’s do not know how to use their nose! Did you know that!!!
As they get the idea, start to hide the cookie so they must use their nose to find it. Great fun!
Tug: Playing tug has many benefits including expelling energy, building bonds and games with you and helping to teach the rules of play. A few critical things that go along with tugging:
The toy is always yours. Your dog shouldn’t try to touch it until you’ve given permission
The toy is ALWAYS yours! Your dog should give it up willingly when you say so.
It is their responsibility to be careful with their mouth. Dogs have the ability to be very precise when it comes to what they touch with their teeth. Playing tug is a great way to teach them that their teeth can’t ever touch your skin. The second you feel teeth, the game needs to end. NEVER HIT or punish a dog as this will create biting issues. NEVER squeeze a muzzle as again you will create a biting issue.
Hide/Seek: Play hide and seek with your dog indoors. It is great fun for both of you and you will be surprised how much your dog loves it. Either wait until your dog is distracted somewhere or have someone keep a hold of them. Go hide behind a door, inside a room somewhere, inside closet, etc. You get the idea. Then either wait or call your dog to get them to come find you. Then just be quiet and wait!
Snuffle mats: These are great for hiding treats in to get your dog to work for them. If you are wanting to do something outside, you can also throw them into the snow or during nice days throw into some higher grass. They have to work to find the cookies.
Food Puzzles: There are tons on the market and depending on the dog and how smart they are, there are easy to complex ones for them to use. Some of my favorite I recommend is the Magic Mushroom (Petsafe), buster cube, Nina Ottosson puzzles, the tug a jug. These are all great and very chew proof. You can also do frozen lick mats or frozen Kong’s. You can use a smidge of peanut butter to seal the end and fill with a homemade doggie ice cream (yogurt, bananas and peanut butter) or any other combination. Kong stuffing, peanut butter are always great ones. Add some green beans or carrots etc. Makes for a nice frozen treat that will take them longer to work on.
Muffin tin/Tennis balls: Break out that muffin tin and put some yummy treats in the bottom then put the tennis balls on top and let them figure out how to get to them!
These are just a few ideas to keep you and your dog busy when outdoor activities aren’t an option. Keeping your dogs mentally stimulated will ensure a peaceful household. Have fun!