While playing with your dog outdoors is fairly easy during summer months, it can get more challenging to keep your dog properly exercised when the weather starts to cool down. You may not enjoy the cold, but your dog might also prefer to stay indoors where it’s warm. The good news is there are plenty of things you can do inside that will engage your pup and keep him in good shape. Whether you’ve got a big room where you can run and play, or are limited on space, the following are four games you could play indoors with your dog.
This is a particularly fun game if you’re just training your dog and teaching him to find things based on scent. Take four empty boxes without tops, turn them upside down and line them up on the floor. Hold out a dog toy and let your dog sniff it to get a sense of what he’s about to search for. Without your dog seeing, take the toy and hide it under one of the boxes. Encourage the dog to search for the toy by sniffing it out.
When he stops at the box that contains the toy, quickly pick up the box and cheer for your dog. After doing this a few times, your dog will hopefully understand the idea of the game and will be able to play it over and over again. You could also play using dog treats, which may be easier to smell if your pup is having a hard time finding the toy.
Any home can become an obstacle course. It just depends on how you look at it. When you create a course for your dog, he can learn discipline, obedience and a wide range of new tricks. Begin in your bedroom with a trail of chicken chips going underneath your bed. The dog can crawl from one end to the other, eating chips as he goes.
From the bedroom, your dog can run to the next room, dodging boxes that you’ve set up down the hallway. Once he enters the living room, you can toss him a frisbee that he’ll need to drop onto his dog bed in the corner. The living room might take him to the kitchen, where he has to push a ball with his nose as he runs under the table to get to his bowl of water where he’ll take a drink. From there you can be waiting on the couch in the living room for your dog to jump up and receive a nice, relaxing back scratch.
The key to making a successful obstacle course is taking your time and ensuring the obstacles are things your dog can actually do. If he isn’t trained yet, this is the perfect opportunity to get going on that. If the weather’s bad outside, you’ve got plenty of time!
It may look different for your dog than it looks for you, but your dog can play tag indoors with the family. If he’s already good at following the “come” command, you can begin by spreading out into different rooms in the house. If he hasn’t learned “come” yet, this is a great time to teach him, but you’d probably want to start with every family member in one room.
To play tag, spread out and have one person take the dog. Someone else will yell from another room (or for a beginner dog, someone would yell from another corner of the same room) for the dog to “come.” When he gets there, he can be awarded with a treat, a drink of water, a quick tug of war or a nice scratch behind the ears. The next person would then call to him and he’d run to that person for a reward. This can go on for as long as your dog can handle it and as long as your family wants to play.
You’ll need at least two humans for this game; One to hide and one to follow the dog. Whoever is hiding should tell the other person where he or she is. To begin, tell the dog to go and find the person hiding. Refer to the person by name so the dog knows exactly who to look for. As the dog begins to seek for the hidden person, the individual following the dog can respond with “almost there” or “good” when the dog is getting closer. Responding with “uh oh” or “not here” when the dog hits a dead end will help the dog understand when to turn around and seek somewhere else. This is a great game for teaching your dog new commands.
You can also play hide and seek with a toy. Put your pup in the bathroom with the door shut. Hide his favorite chew toy behind a couch, under a bed, under a desk or somewhere that isn’t enclosed, but isn’t out in the open. Let him out of the bathroom and tell him to find the toy. If it’s a toy he knows well, you can call it by its name and he will know exactly what he’s looking for. Once he finds it, spend at least a few minutes playing with him and the toy so it feels like an exciting discovery.
When you think of games to play with your dog, a lot of outdoor activities might come to mind, but that’s not all there is. Using your dog’s favorite plush , some treats, some things around the house and the natural layout of your home, you can come up with some fun things to keep your dog active indoors.