A DogGeek.com exclusive by Teresa Barker
We all need exercise to stay healthy, no matter what the weather forecast says, especially dogs! Here’s some indoor games you can play to get your pooch off the couch, get moving, and to keep him from being bored on dreary days.
- Hide and seek with favorite toys
This game may start with teaching your dog how to sit and stay. Start by having him sit and stay while you place a favorite toy (squeaky ones are a favorite in our house) where he can see it, but away from him (like across the room). Use your release word (ours is “OK”) and let him go fetch the toy, making sure to allow enough time to celebrate the reward of waiting patiently, by dancing around with his toy in his mouth. You can make this game more and more complicated, incrementally, by moving further and further away with the toy, around a corner, to another room, up a flight of stairs and eventually by hiding the toy in places where your dog could eventually find it. When hiding the toy, think about a child’s Easter egg hunt. Don’t make it too hard, you do want your dog to be successful, eventually!
- Keep Away
There are many variations on this game. With two people, you can simply toss a toy or ball back and forth to each other, letting your dog chase it in each direction. We’ve even gone as far as to use tennis rackets and a tennis ball in the garage, for greater distance. Be sure to “accidentally” drop the ball once in a while, to keep your dog a part of the game.
- Agility Training
You can get very creative at home with simple props, like a hula hoop. Start by using a piece of kibble to coax your dog to walk through the hoop, as it rests on the floor. Once your dog is used to walking through the hoop on ground level, lift it off the ground one inch at time. By the end of a very rainy week, you might have your pal leaping through the hoop a couple of feet off the ground!
- Puzzles and Toys
There are many treat-dispensing and puzzle toys on the market for dogs now. These toys are mentally challenging, requiring your dogs to ‘figure out’ how to get the treat out from it’s hiding spot. Look for sturdy toys that will withstand heavy chewing.
A hallway with doors closed makes for a perfect runway for a game of fetch. A straight stairwell does, too. Use a plush ball or toy to avoid the ball going in all directions and to get the most distance out of running to fetch.
Mental exercise, as well as physical exercise, is an important part of your dog’s health. It’s fun, relieves boredom, and can be extremely bonding for the both of you!