Five Great Ideas for Indoor Fun With Your Dog

March 6th, 2007 by Dan

Winter is hard on many of us; did you know it’s hard on your furry companions too? Bad weather keeps us and them inside, and everyone can go a little stir crazy. Even if you can’t go for long walks and play in the park together, there are things to do with your dog indoors that will entertain them and sometimes provide an outlet for some of that energy.

1. Hide-and-Seek: A dog’s version of this classic game is not between two people, but between your dog and a yummy treat. A good way to start this is by teaching your dog the command “find it” (or similar words of your choice). Show your dog a treat, then put it down a few feet away in plain sight. Tell him to find it, and go with him to the treat. Repeat this, gradually placing the treat out of sight, and eventually in harder to find places. Just remember: don’t hide a treat anywhere you don’t want to let your dog explore (like the couch cushions, or near food items). This game works both while you’re home, and in your absence. Once a treat is hidden, you can tell your dog to find it, and go about your day. A friend of ours hides treats inside soft containers that are easily ripped open, which makes her dog work a little harder. He always finds his reward, even if it takes a while.

2. Pick a hand, any hand: This can be a brief learning practice, or drawn out over longer periods of time- it’s up to you. When giving your dog a treat (have him sit, of course), put it in a closed hand, then hold both out. Let him choose one, by sniffing or pawing. When he picks the hand with the treat, he’s rewarded. You can also do this with dinner (if it’s kibble), or at least part of it, depending on how much time you have and want to spend with this activity.

3. Laser pointer: Cats aren’t the only pets who love laser pointers! This activity is particularly good for high-energy dogs or pups. Keep in mind the size of your dog and the space you have; if there’s room, simply aim the light beam and watch your dog run around trying to catch it. Not all dogs are interested in laser pointers, but many are, and for those it’s a great way to get exercise.

4. Stuffed toys: for a more independent activity (that also give you a break!), fill a Kong (found in most pet stores) with peanut butter, other soft treats good for your dog, or special stuffing made particularly for Kongs. A hard hollow bone can also be stuffed; both are washable and reusable. And, while we don’t like to promote specific items, we’ve found that long days away from home are eased by a KongTime. Made by the same company, this simple machine holds four Kongs (previously stuffed by you) and releases them at timed intervals (2 or 4 hours). The machine beeps every time a Kong falls out; after one confusing reaction to the first beep, our dog ran for the next Kong each time he heard the noise.

5. Chew time: Most dogs love to chew. We all know this, we’ve all lost personal items in the process. Rawhide is great, and will usually last quite awhile (unless your dog is a particularly aggressive chewer). Choose rawhide chips, rawhide pressed into rolls/other shapes, or natural bones, not items made of bits of rawhide compressed and shaped. While many dogs will stay amused with their chew toys for quite awhile, this activity should be supervised, as dogs can choke on rawhide. Once pieces look small enough to swallow, it’s time to replace them.

Cold, and sometimes wet, weather doesn’t rule out the possibility of a good walk, of course. If your dog is small, or larger but with thin and short hair, coats are important! Some dogs are built for cold seasons, and enjoy the break from heat. Others, like our pit bull, will run out, pee in front of the building, and run back to the door. Simply be aware of your dog’s reaction to cold and snow/ice, and structure your time outside accordingly. Another thing to keep in mind: salt put down to melt ice will hurt your dog’s pads, as will ice itself. Most dogs I walk are more sensitive to the salt than anything else; it’s a good idea to wipe feet off with a warm damp cloth after being out whenever there may be salt on the sidewalk (shortly before, during, and shortly after winter precipitation). Antifreeze is also a danger for dogs to be aware of during winter.

Happy playing!

One Response to “Five Great Ideas for Indoor Fun With Your Dog”

  1. Rainy day game ideas? - Doberman Talk Forums Says:

    [...] It" is an awesome game! Here are some other fun games (we play pick-a-hand around here) Five Great Ideas for Indoor Fun With Your Dog | Dog Reflections __________________ [...]

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