During the Coronavirus epidemic, where most of us are told to stay at home and self-isolate, it can be more of a challenge to keep our dogs active. However, with a little creativity, there are many indoor games and exercises you can do with your dog to keep them mentally and physically stimulated!
Here are 10 indoor games that I love to play with Harley when we can’t get outside:
- Hide & Seek
For this game, it helps if you dog knows how to ‘stay’ (if not, that is something else you can work on with your dog while stuck indoors!) Alternatively, you can have another member of the family keep him still while you hide, and then call him to come find you!
2. Search for Treats
Depending on the difficulty level appropriate for your dog, start by hiding treats around the home, either somewhere they see you placing it (easy) or out of sight of your dog (difficult). If you haven’t played this game with your dog before, start off easy as it can take some dogs a while to rely only on their sniffing ability instead of a visual cue.
3. Which Hand
This is a great game to play with your young pup to introduce them to using their nose! Simply take a treat and hide it in one of your hands. Hold both hands out to your pup in a fist and allow them to sniff out the food.
4. Toy Clean Up
This one is my favourite! Begin by having your dog pick up a toy near to where they are stored and tell him to ‘drop’ while standing over the toy box. This can take a lot of practice for your dog to get the hang of it, so stick with it. With patience and TONS of praise, you can ask your dog to clean up after itself!
5. Learning Toy Names
I think this is one of Harley’s favourite games, probably because she is so good at it! Our dogs are capable of learning around 200 words, so we can really utilise their brains by teaching them names for certain toys – in the same way your dog probably already knows ‘ball’. Start with your dogs favourite toy, something they place a lot of value on, and begin repeating the name for it whenever they play with it. Eventually, your dog will build up an association with the word you’re using and the toy they’re playing with. With practice, you can introduce this training with a number of different toys.
6. The Cup Game
Line up 3 cups in front of your dog and place a treat under one of the cups while your dog is watching. When he chooses the correct cup, give lots of praise and let him have the treat. Alternatively, you can let him try to get the treat himself! To increase the difficulty, mix up the cups once you’ve placed the treat and let your dog sniff it out.
7. Frozen Kongs
This is a great way to keep your dog entertained if you have some work to get done! Place dog-friendly food inside the kong, freeze it, and let your dog have hours of fun chewing and licking!
A simple game that can also be played indoors using soft toys that don’t bounce. This is also good game to teach the ‘drop’ command to your dog.
9. Tug of War
For this game, ensure your dog has a good ‘drop’ or ‘leave it’ command. When played in the right way, this is a great game for dogs, but if your dog gets over-excited, its time to stop the game. Despite certain opinions, scientific studies have shown that letting your dog win just makes you more fun to play with in your dogs eyes. Tug of war can build up trust and cooperative skills, as long as these important rules are followed:
- If your dog takes the toy away from you, act disinterested and focus on a different toy – DO NOT chase him for it.
- If your dog drops the toy or tries to give it to you, praise him.
- Play should always stop on your command and if your dog becomes too rowdy, walk away.
Training your dog is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated, and there is no time like the present (particularly now we are stuck at home). Training also creates an important bond between you and your dog. Indoor training techniques can include basic obedience such as sit, stay, down etc. You can also start to work on your indoor recall and lead training!