As a dog owner you have to get pretty creative during the winter months to keep your dog entertained. Although my dog wouldn’t mind being outside for hours at a time whether it’s four degrees or four feet of snow, I really don’t want to be. Over the last few years I’ve tried a lot of different activities to keep my dog entertained on the days we’re stuck inside.
Here are 10 ideas for things to do when your stuck inside:
1. Food Dispensing Toys – Also known as “Enrichment Feeders,” these toys are a great way to provide some activity for your dog without giving him a lot of treats. I use a few different ones for Hunter and Roscoe and put their breakfast and dinner in there. Hunter has an Omega Ball, Kongs and a Kibble Nibble Meal Dispensing Dog Toy, and both Hunter and Roscoe have a Busy Buddy Twist and Treat. I like to switch them up to keep him challenged.
2. Agility – The fun thing about agility is that you can do many of the activities at home. An easy agility activity to try at home is to put a stick up on cans and have your dog jump over it. You’ll want to start with the stick very low and slowly raise it as your dog gets more comfortable. For more ideas on building your own agility course, check out http://www.cesarsway.com/training/dogtraining/How-to-Get-Started-with-Dog-Agility-Training
3. Shaping – Shaping is a great mental activity for your dog. In this activity, you break down a behavior into tiny increments, reinforcing the behavior at each step until you’ve achieved the full behavior. Local trainer Kevin Duggan has a good video about how to teach your dog shaping: http://www.dogstokevin.com/blog/a-fun-way-to-train-your-dog-free-shaping-video
4. Hide and Seek – Just like regular hide and seek, this game involves having your dog find you or other family members, as you hide in another room. You can bring treats or just try to get your dog to find you in a different room without a reward.
5. Run the stairs – I often wish that I had stairs because I would definitely take advantage of them to wear out Hunter. You can add in a game of fetch or just have your dog chase you up and down the steps.
6. Nose work – This activity involves hiding things in boxes or other objects and having your dog find them. Something Wagging did a good post about doing nose work at home with your dog: http://www.somethingwagging.com/k9-nose-work-introduction/k9-nose-work-pdf/
7. Name Game – A new game we’ve added into our trick time is learning the names of toys. It is amazing how many words a dog can learn. We’ve been working on identifying toys, and so far he has learned ball. If you get really into this, you can teach your dog to fetch you things, like a beer from the fridge, perhaps. Life goals.
8. Tricks – I work on trick training with Hunter for at least 10 minutes pretty much every day. I’ve taught him roll over and bow in recent months. He picked up roll over very fast, but take a bow has proven to be more difficult. We are still working on perfecting that one and will soon add in another trick. Check out my Trick of the Month series for instructions on a new trick each month: http://dogsinthecle.com/?s=trick+of+the+month
9. Grooming – If your dog is anything like mine, your grooming session will also involve a workout since you’ll have to chase him down once you pull out the brush. Grooming is a great way to work on teaching your dog calm behavior, and it’s also a great way to bond with your dog and give him some affection.
10. Photo shoot – Of course I would suggest this, I love taking photos of my dogs. If your dog likes to dress up, or if you’ve taught him to balance things on his nose in one of your shaping sessions, for example, you can set up a variety of fun photo opportunities. I know from my marathon photo session with Hunter and Roscoe around Christmas they were pretty worn out from all of the modeling.
How do you keep your dog entertained indoors?