Ever get stumped on how to entertain your dog? The weather isn't cooperating, there's a serious lack of space, you own a working breed but lack the work for him. Or maybe you are like me and live in the most temperamental state on the planet, where it's 50 degrees at noon and -50 degrees by dinner time.
Fear not! Here's a few creative ways to entertain your dog. And the best part? Every activity is designed to be able to do with limited indoor space!
1. Nosing Around. Nose work is a problem-solving skill, which in turn is exhausting to dogs. Hide treats around a room. You can hide them under pots, pans, cardboard boxes, or whatever works best. Give your dog a command like "find it!" Praise him and encourage him each time he is close to finding a treat! The more you practice, the faster he will get at seeking things out.
2. Frozen Kong with Bully Stick. All you need for this recipe is a can of dog food, a bully stick, and a Kong toy. Take the Kong and stuff it full of canned dog food about 3/4 full. Insert a bully stick into the Kong and freeze. Hours of fun!
3. Take a Class. "But my dog is already trained." And my response is... so is mine! Take a class anyways! Go because your dog loves it. Go because you will learn something new every time! Go take a sport class or tricks class or a new class that will stretch you both! Repeat a class to freshen up those manners! Get out of the house and enjoy the benefits of teaching your dog diverse skills. P.S. I'm a canine trainer, and all these years later I still regularly attend classes and seminars with my personal dogs! It holds me accountable, it keeps me learning, and it's a great bonding experience.
4. Hide & Seek. Have someone hold your dog (or put your dog in a stay) while you go hide. Start just around a corner or somewhere easy before progressing to more difficult spots. Call him to come.Throw a party when he finds you! This is a great game to play with the whole family and an easy way to incorporate the kids into training as well.
5. Sit in a Box Trick. Get a box that is big enough for your dog to sit in. Lure your dog with a treat to interact with the box. If your dog moves towards the box or a paw even touches it, praise and reward! Gradually work towards putting more paws into the box. It's okay if the box moves, makes noises, or tips! That is real life! Things are going to move, make noise, and tip! When that happens, tell your dog "yes" and reward in those moments to help eliminate any fear. Keep practicing until your dog is easily hopping into the box to sit for treats.
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About The Author: Megan is the owner and lead trainer of Havana Dog Training. She has been training canines for over 8 years and specializes in behavior modification, foundational work, and working with families and young children.