It’s that time of year when sometimes it’s more difficult to take your dog out for a long walk. To help keep you dog fit, active and entertained you could play some indoor games with your dog. Here are some ideas for fun boredom busters for you and your dog..
1) Hunt the treat – Hide some of your dog’s favourite treats around your house and get your dog to sniff them out! They may find it difficult at the start so hide them in sight of your dog. With practise you may be able to hide them without your dog seeing so they start to utilise their sniffing rather than their sight to detect them. If they struggle with finding treats within a room to start with you could just make them choose which hand the treat is in. You could use a choice of upturned cups with a treat hidden underneath as well for them to sniff out.
2) Toys and treat dispensers – such as Kongs or Nina Ottoson can entertain whilst you can’t!
3) Family Circle – If you have children and your dog is happy and safe with them, get everyone to sit in a circle with some treats and then they can take it in turns to call the dogs name. When the dog comes to the right person calling them, they receive a treat. Make the circle bigger and bigger as the dog gets better at the game. You can eventually end up in different rooms. This really encourages rapid recall.
4) Tug of War – Although there is a lot of different views on playing this with your dog (i.e. If they win then they perceive you as being submissive), a recent study (http://www.npr.org/2011/05/26/136497064/the-new-science-of-understanding-dog-behavior) has shown that actually the more you play with your dog and let them win at a game, the more they like you. The more you win, they less they want to play with you. Just ensure that you halt the game if they get a bit over enthusiastic with the tugging!
5) Obstacle course – If you don’t have ‘proper’ agility equipment to hand (as most owners won’t!), you could make a DIY course for your dog by rolling up towels or blankets for little jumps. Walk them through the course first and then let them have a go themselves. This is also a good way to get your dog to stretch certain soft tissues in the joints without over exerting them on a walk i.e. After surgery etc. Always follow your vets instructions for how much exercise and what type of exercise your dog can do though. Kitchen chairs or a coffee table could be used as a tunnel, a stool to balance on etc.
6) Name Game – Studies have shown that dogs understand around 200 words. If they like to play with toys, you could give a name to each toy and teach it to them, giving a reward when you say the correct toy and they bring it to you. Teach them one toy at a time and keep repeating the name until they associate it with the specific toy.
7) Basketball – Teach your dog to drop their toy or ball into a washing basket. Ensure they know the ‘drop’ command first and then show them first what you would like them to do and then reward as they start performing the desired behaviour. Once they can do this you could expand on this to get them to tidy up all their toys into a basket (please send them to live with me when they can do this!!).