With winter hanging on and spring showers right around the corner, sometimes it is hard to get the motivation to take our dogs outside. Well, what if we told you there were things you could do inside that had the potential to wear your dogs out without ever leaving your house?
Here are 6 things you can do inside to beat those bad weather blues.
Nose Games. If you have taken a K9 Nosework class you already know how much a good search can wear your dog out. If you haven't, what are you waiting for? Dog’s see the world with their nose and if we lean into that it can be a great way to wear our dogs out with little effort on our part. If you haven’t taken a nosework class there is still plenty you can do. Hide your dog’s meals or treats in various spots around the house. At first let them watch where you hide the food while they learn what ‘find it’ means. When they do learn that set your game up while they aren’t watching and ask them to ‘find it,’ increasing the challenges all the while. Another way to take advantage of your dogs love to sniff and find are Snuffle Games. There are tons of snuffle mats out there and so many DIY options to build these mats. They encourage your dogs to sniff out, root around and find their meals or treats inside of fleece mazes. We, like many of you, have way more toys than our dogs need. They live in a box to try to keep them from spreading too far into our living room. Every now and then we hide meals or treats throughout that box and have them search, rummage and remove toys to find their food. Don’t have that many dog toys? You can stand toilet paper or paper towel rolls in a box and drop food inside them. Them will have to root around and sniff out the food to get to it.
Enrichment toys and puzzles. Enrichment toys are toys that your dog has to interact with to get their food out. Some of our favorites are the Kong Wobbler, the Kong Gyro and the StarMark Treat Dispensing Puzzle Ball. Your dog will have to push these toys around and figure out the best way to get food to fall out. They can change a fifteen second meal into a fifteen minute game that uses their mind and makes them walk around the whole time. There are also interactive puzzles made by companies like Outward Hound and Trixie that can be very challenging for your dog to figure out. You will hide food under things they have to figure out how to open, on top of things they have to figure out how to pull out, and in things they have to figure out how to release, etc. More of a DIY person? Take a bottle with a cap that won’t be a choking hazard, poke some kibble sized holes in it and let your dog at it! To create a nice puzzle, take a muffin tin, put some food in each tin and place some tennis balls on top. They will have to figure out how to remove the tennis balls to get to the food.
Indoor Obstacle Course. Just because the weather is bad, doesn’t mean you can’t practice some parkour or agility behaviors! Use chairs, coffee tables, cones, step stools, TV dinner stands or anything else you might have to practice all types of behaviors. Teach them to go around cones or chairs (This can be very helpful to use if they ever walk around the wrong side of a tree!) Use step stools, benches or buckets to teach 2 paws up. Grab a box and teach them to get in and sit. Set up your own courses to work on default sits and loose leash walking. Teach them to go under your coffee table or dinner stands. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Hind ‘N’ Seek. If you have two or more people or it your dog has a great ‘Stay,’ this fun game is a great way to get your dog moving, thinking, and working all while improving their recall along the way. If you have a couple of people to work with, set up in different rooms and call your dog back and forth, making sure they get rewarded when they find you with treats or play. If you are alone, a great ‘Stay’ will be extremely important. Ask your dog to stay then go and hide. The more you play this game the more difficult you can make your hiding places! Not only will your dog get worn out by running from room to room, but the searching will engage their brain, wearing them out further. Turning training into a game will increase the enjoyment of what sometimes can feel like a chore, making it more fun for both human and dog.
Supervised Destruction. Destroying things can be very fulfilling, stress relieving and tiring for our dogs. This isn’t for every dog though! If you have a dog that actually eats things that they destroy this might not be the best option for them. If they don’t though, this can be a nearly free way to repurpose things we all use in our everyday life. Start saving your toilet paper rolls, your paper towel rolls or wrapping paper rolls. Roll one side up, place some food inside and roll the other side up. Your dog will need to tear into the rolls to get their reward. Take it to the next level by hiding the tubes in boxes. It can get messy, but it is hard work for your dog and very entertaining to watch! Make sure this is a structured activity. They need to be given permission to destroy. This activity may not be the best for puppies!
Tricks. Tricks are an awesome way to wear your dog our. There are endless opportunities to teach fun things. Whether you are working towards a trick title through the AKC or Do More With Your Dog or just messing around for fun, engaging your dogs brain will wear them out, build your bond and lead to lots of long lasting fun and memories. Plus who doesn’t like showing off the newest trick your dog has learned?
Interested in getting involved in a challenge to encourage you to beat the bad weather blues? Join our Trick Dog Challenge inside our exclusive facebook group! You'll receive how-to videos for 8 different tricks! We'll see you inside the group.