You know the scenario. You wake up and it’s a horribly dark, rainy day. It might even be blowin’ a hoolie! The last thing we want to do is spend hours out on dog walks when we know our dog won’t enjoy it either. But, we all know that to keep a dog happy and prevent boredom they require exercise and mental stimulation. So what can we do? With the help of Millie, I’ve come up with 7 indoor games for your dog to give you another option to grabbing that dog lead.
All of the games are fun and can be played indoors so are perfect for those rainy days. I wouldn’t personally recommend replacing all of your daily walks with these but it does give you a fallback option for when you are both trapped indoors. Well, I do live in Scotland. I know it can happen!
Most of the games require treats and simple items you have around your house. But if you would like to purchase some professional games, I’ve added a couple of recommendations in too.
Now go on. Go try them out – I promise that you’ll have fun too!
Indoor Games for Your Dog
#1 Three Cup Game
Grab three cups and place them in a line. It’s now time for you to play magician and get your dog to work out which cup has the treat.
Start simple and place the treat under one cup. Using the ‘ok’ command, your dog should be prompted to select the right cup. As with all of the recommended indoor games for your dog, make sure you give them lots of praise and very quickly when they select the right cup.
As they get used to the game, you can increase it’s difficulty by mixing the cups around after you’ve placed the treat underneath one of them. Abracadabra!
#2 Find (Scent Work)
By far the most popular indoor game for Millie. It’s quite simple, you ask them to sit and stay then you go hide lots of little treats all over the house for them to sniff out.
If you have a dog that won’t quite stay whilst you go to other rooms, pick the largest room that you have with lots of different places for them to go find their treats. Don’t worry if your dog finds that difficult to start with as they may not be used to sniffing out their treats. Start simple with treats in plain sight and in a straight line and build up from there. You’ll find if you use lots of positive words when they find each, they’ll love this game and the interaction with you too.
If you are worried about your dogs’ diet or using too many treats, do just use your dog’s own kibble from their daily food and subtract it from their next meal.
Remember that if you have a high energy dog not to hide them too high or around breakables. They could get a little excited trying to find those treats!
#3 Teach Your Dog to Fetch An Item or Toy
You could use this time to teach them how to fetch a new item such as slippers, keys, newspaper or even one of their own toys.
I’d recommend starting with one of their favourite toys and start using a name for it. Millie has one of the Invincibles plush toys in a fish shape which she loves whenever it makes an appearance. If you take away the confusion of other toys and items, then you’ll find your dog will start to learn its name quicker. So start with just one toy.
Do this with a few different toys, given them high praise each time they bring you the name toy. You’ll soon be able to mix them together and ask them to retrieve a specific named toy and progress to other items!
Did you know that a dog can learn over 200 words? No? Well, whilst many quote 200, your dog could aim to beat the amazing Chaser who has learned the names for 1000 of his dog toys!
#4 Practice Basic Obedience Commands
I think we all find it easy to forget that day-to-day, we should be practising all the basic commands. We put so much effort into training our dogs as puppies,
So get back to basics and practice all those commands you learnt during the early years. All dogs should have a reliable sit, down, stay, drop it and wait/leave along with the recall. So get practising along with any other commands you have taught your dog too.
Remember that you can mix them up into different sequences to increase complexity.
#5 Teach Your Dog a New Trick
We’ve all watched Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey in awe and wondered how Pudsey was so clever. But with some training, your dog could learn new tricks too. No matter what their age!
The secret is to work out what motivates them. Ifyourr dog loves food, then make sure the treat is ‘high value’. They are going to need lots of praise and encouragement when learning a new trick.
Whether you teach them to roll over, circle around you or jump through a hoop, there is a neverending list of tricks for you to choose from. Either put google to the test to find a trick you’d like to learn or start with this great list of 52 tricks.
Remember that as your dog learns each new trick, you can reduce treats and drop the verbal command to just a signal. As with the basic commands, you can then group tricks together into sequences. Hey, we may even end up seeing you both on Britain’s Got Talent next year!
#6 Teach Your Dog To Clean Up Their Toys
The perfect game for you to practice “drop it” and “find” along with the names of toys (if you have started training your dog to recognise names).
If you have toys scattered all over a room like most dog owners homes, then you are ready to start. Otherwise, empty out those dog toy baskets and storage containers. The more toys the better.
Again the game is simple. Ask your dog to bring you a toy and using the drop it command, place the toy into the container. I find sitting down on the floor with the container next to me helps and pointing into the box whilst saying ‘drop it’. Again, lots and lots of praise and rewards will help when they do successfully drop one into their box.
And when they are all cleaned up, you can always empty and start all over again!
#7 Puzzle and Interactive Dog Toys
There is now a huge range of puzzle based, interactive dog toys now on the market. We’ve tried a few out over the last few years and have found that Nina Ottoson games are by far the best quality and offer the widest range.
Nina Ottosson’s range of durable interactive games requires mental as well as physical dexterity to work through the challenges and reveal hidden food rewards. They can be set to differing levels of complexity, to satisfy all ages and breeds of dog.
I started Millie with the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Activity Toy from their medium range but now have the Nina Ottosson Dog Mix Max Activity Toy – Advanced which can be interlocked together to create a larger play game. This is the only interactive toy that Millie hasn’t mastered quickly and still takes her 15 to 20 minutes to release all four treats when using one square.
You can see how much mental focus is required in the YouTube video below (and if I can find the game in my moving boxes, I’ll share Millie with hers too!).
Is Your Dog Still Bored?
It may be that between dog walks and indoor games that your dog isn’t getting enough stimulation and/or exercise. This is by far the most common reason quoted when people reach out and hire a dog walker, particularly when their time is limited and may be something you should consider.
But for now, why not treat yourself too! I have 15 gift ideas for a dog owner which will help you find the perfect gift for yourself or another dog owner in your life. Well, you deserve it after spending time spoiling them too – don’t you?
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