Keep Your Pup Active and Motivated Indoors
Summer is over and the winter months are just around the corner. While playing with your pup outside is great, there are a number of things you can do with your dogs inside when the weather takes a turn to keep them from becoming bored and destructive.
Play is very important for dogs – it keeps them active and motivates them to work – for treats, for praise. Entertaining your dog means they will not eat or chew on things they shouldn’t be (like shoes or molding or remote controls.)
Here are a few things you can do to keep your pup busy on days when you are stuck indoors.
- Treat filled Kong – This is a go-to for most dog owners. Filled with peanut butter or treats, Kongs can be frozen and will keep your dog busy for hours. Kongs are non-toxic, dishwasher safe, and pretty much indestructible.
- Basic Obedience Commands – Every dog can benefit from a refresher now and again. Basic commands such as sit, stay, come, leave it, will not only make your pup work and tire them out; it will make them reliable as well. There is nothing better than having a dog with a reliable recall.
- Play hide and seek – My pups think this game is great! I make both of them sit and stay while I go hide somewhere in the house. Once I have found a place to hide, I release them and tell them “OK” which means come find me. It never takes them long and when they do find me – they are always so very proud of themselves.
- Which hand is the treat? – This game is basic scent work and if your dog has a good nose it is a great place to start. Place a treat in your hand and then put both hands behind your back. Hold out closed fists and ask them to “touch” to tell you which hand the treats are in. If they get it correct they get the treat – if not I place your hands behind your back and do it again.
- Find the Toy – Teach your dog to identify the different names of their toys. For example if they have a ball or a bone or a rope or a teddy bear. Start with one toy – say the name – and then put the toy in with their other toys. See if they can identify that toy out of all of their other toys in the bin.
- Clean up after yourself – Designate a bin or a basket for your dog’s toys to be stored in. Have them learn to pick up their toy and put it in the bin. If your dog already knows the “drop it” command, this is a great way to reinforce it!
- Go find it – Hide one of your pup’s favorite toys somewhere in the house and have them go find it. I am always amazed at the look on a dogs face when you tell them to go find a certain item. You can see them begin to process the information and when they succeed it is very rewarding for them. (You can use this to have them start finding things for you too once they get the hang of it.) This is how service dogs learn to assist their handlers find certain items such as keys or shoes, etc.
- Tug of War – A good game of tug of war is great both physically and mentally for your dog. It tires them out fairly easily and you don
’t need too much room to play. Of course if you have a strong dog it could be a little tiring for you. The key is if they get too excited that you make sure they know the “leave it” or “drop it” command. You do not want an over excited dog to mistakenly bite you.
- Fetch – Playing fetch with some dogs can be never ending – they seem to be able to play all day long. Other dogs – mine included – could care less if you threw a ball for them. If you have a dog who does not like playing fetch, they might enjoy playing soccer. I had to improvise with my smaller pit bull who really did not know what to do with a ball. She did however love to run around the house and “kick” the soccer ball (all the while trying to bite and pop it.)
- Bubbles – Dogs seem to be fascinated by bubbles. They are sold for children and as such are nontoxic so you don’t have to go out and find any that are specially made for dogs. There are machines that will provide continuous bubbles, as well as some bubbles with the smell of bacon to make it a little more appealing for them. Watching a dog chase and try to catch bubbles is great entertainment for humans as well.
You really don’t need to provide your dog with expensive toys and treats. Spending 10 to 15 minutes just a few times a day can make all the difference in the world and keep your pup from being destructive. Keep a dog’s mind and body busy and it will keep them happy and healthy!
PMAR Puppy Adoption Coordinator/ Blog Coordinator
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