Wintertime can offer dog owners many challenges – bitterly cold and sopping wet days aren’t always that appealing to be out there with your dog. But with a bit of creativity, you can do a lot of fun exercises indoors, giving them the exercise they need to stay mentally and physically healthy.
Here’s some simple and fun indoor games that you can play with your dog when the winter weather is in full force. These game will help keep your dog happy, entertained and best of all, prevent boredom. And they’re fun for you as well.
Hide & Seek
Does your dog know how to stay? If so it’ll make this game much easier, if he/she doesn’t, get a human helper to keep them sit still while you hide. This is one of my dogs favourite indoor game by far, and there’s something awesome about how simple it is.
Which Hand Game
This is a great starter game for dogs who haven’t practiced nose work before. Simply take a piece of kibble or a dog treat and place it in one of your hands. Hold both of your hands out towards your dog in a fist and have them pick which hand it’s in. If your dog doesn’t play nicely and mouths you or claws at your hands, practice some basic impulse control first.
Three Cup Game
Another great nose work starter game. Get out 3 cups and line them up in a row in front of your dog. To start put a treat under one of the cups while your dog is watching, give them the OK to show you which one is the right cup. When they choose correctly praise them & let them have the treat. Once your dog seems to get the hang of it you can make it more challenging by mixing the cups around after you place the treat.
Find The Treats
You can use bits of kibble or your dogs favourite treats for this game. Have them stay while you hide treats around the home. If your dog hasn’t played this game before, start out simple by placing them in plain sight to get them used to the idea. Some dogs may take a while to stop relying heavily on visual cues and to hone in their excellent sniffing ability. Once your dog has gone a few rounds, you can make it more challenging by hiding treats in some tougher spots.
Find Your Favourite Toy
Place all the toys in some spots of the house and tell your dog to find their favourite toy. Keep it fun by giving your dog a high reward treat when they succeed. If your dog has not played this game before, start with placing the toys in plain sights to get them used to the idea. After a few rounds, make it more challenging by hiding the toys in a tougher spot.
Put Your Toys Away
One of my favourite ‘games’ and surprisingly my dog loves it too, though that might have to do with all the awesome praise he gets once he’s cleaned up. Start by having your dog pick up a toy near where they’re normally stored. Have your dog ‘drop it’ while standing over the toy box. It may take awhile for your dog to get it, it certainly did with mine. But with patience and a lot of praise you’ll end up with a dog that can clean up after themselves (or in my case, put all their toys to bed!)
Learning The Names of Toys
According to studies our dogs have roughly the same intelligence as a 2 year old child, with the capability of learning over 200 words. We can put some of those brains to good use by teaching them the names of their toys. Start with one specific toy and start using a name for it; dogs tend to put a ‘value’ on their toys, and by repeating the name while playing with it they’ll start to pick up on the name you’re using. After practicing with a few different toys you can then set them out and have your dog go get their red ball, etc (or ‘crocodile in our case)
Game of Fetch
If you have a long hallway or basement you can play fetch indoors. It’s as easy as grabbing a ball (soft rubber for inside) or favourite toy and have some fun! My dog loves his nerf rubber ball, it’s easy to grab and it bounces to make it fun to chase! A perfect way to give your dog some physical exercise indoors.
Tug of War
When played correctly, tug is a great way for our dogs to get in a lot of meaningful play and exercise. Before you start, make sure your dog has a good ‘drop it’ or ‘leave it’ command. If your dog gets extra rowdy or starts mouthing you, then it’s time to stop playing the game. Research suggests that dogs that play tug games with their owners are found to be more obedient. And contrary to popular belief you can let your dog win, there’s no evidence that it promotes dominance – in fact studies have shown that letting your dog win actually shows that you’re really fun to be around and makes them want to play even more.
Puzzle & Interactive Dog Toys
There are many interactive dog toys available today – there are toys to chase, toys to chew and puzzles to figure out. You can also make your own puzzle toy with a muffin tin, some tennis balls and a few treats. Place the treats in the tin & cover them up with the tennis balls and you’ve got yourself a DIY dog puzzle. If your dog likes to chase, you can make your own chase toy by attaching a toy to the end of a rope and tying it onto a stick you can wave around for your dog to chase. If you’re going to make a chase toy try using a bungee as the rope so it’ll be easier on your dogs neck when they do catch it.
When preparing to play with your dog, make sure that you choose a safe and well-lit area to avoid any accidents.
Another great game for dogs to keep them busy is teaching them how to chase bubbles. You can get a pet bubble-making toy or make one yourself, all you need is water, soap, and a straw. Many dogs get excited when they see bubbles; it is a cheap and easy way to keep them active and occupied.Playing with your dog indoors doesn’t get much easier than this.
• Blow 1-2 bubbles at a time
• Make your pet pay attention to the bubbles
• Try catching the bubbles and encourage them to do the same
Make sure that they stay away from the soap mixture and after you are done playing wipe your dog’s face with a damp cloth to avoid the soap irritating its eyes. This is one of the best games to play with your dog because it is a mild dog running game that allows them to have a brief run session every now and then.
Work on Basic Obedience
Indoor dog training is simple, all you need is your dog and maybe a few treats. Whether your dog is an ace on basic commands or is still learning, even 5 minutes of practicing your sit, down and stays can be mentally challenging. Have you ever heard of the saying, ‘use it or lose it’? Make this fun by using treats or toys. Add some playtime between commands, whatever it takes to keep your dog engaged and having fun.
Free Shaping Games
Free shaping is building a particular behaviour based on small steps. It’s a method of training that allows you to train a new behaviour without physical corrections, but by encouraging your dogs natural ability to learn. One of the easiest ways to start with shaping is by using a prop like a box. Start with having your dog touch the box without giving it any signals. Set out a box in front of yourself, grab your clicker and treats and wait for your dog to simply touch the box. Once they touch the box in any way (with their nose or paw) give them plenty of praise. Then you build on that behaviour by next having your dog put their foot in the box etc.
These are some of the best fun indoor games that you can play if your dog loves to spend time with you (and of course they do).
So if its a cold wet wintery day – Indoor games for dogs are definitely a great way to mentally and physically exercise your dog.