As autumn is upon us and winter is not that far behind, we tend to stay indoors more and more. Not surprising given the fact that it’s almost always raining and if not, it’s cold as hell. Add the fact that by seven o’clock is already dark, nobody feels like going outside.
This is a big problem for those of us whose best friend is a dog. Our furry friends need to go out despite our unwillingness to do so. And even if we take them out on a regular basis, there are some games which we can play with them on an extremely rainy day. These indoor games you can play with your dog will engage them both mentally and physically, making it extremely fun for the both of you.
1. The “Narc” Dog
Even if dogs have a great sense of smell, living a mostly carefree life, makes them forget to use it. With this game you will make you dog excited to use his nose again and discover a prize by the end. First you’ll need the actual prize which can be either a snack or his favorite toy or even a bone. Then take some opaque containers (at least five) and place the treat inside.
Now encourage your best friend to sniff these boxes and pause at the one with the payoff. Lift the container and enthusiastically congratulate him on his discovery. Let him have fun and indulge in his treat and soon enough he’ll know what’s expected of him during the game. Try adding more boxes, place them further apart and see your dog’s scent work improve.
2. Hide and Go Seek
This game is somewhat similar to the previous one but a bit more evolved. Here the aim of the game is to get an object and hide it so your dog can find it. This will be a bit more difficult, especially if your puppy doesn’t have any training in looking for stuff. Anyway, to go about this game you first need to show your dog the object you’ll be hiding. Then take him away so he can’t see you (like the bathroom for example) and hide that object somewhere in your apartment.
Then let him go and see if he can find it. vocal clues if he needs help, like “gooooood” when she gets closer or “uh ooohhh” when he gets farther afield. Give hints if needed, by pointing or walking toward the hiding place, until your dog really has a grasp of what this game is all about. When he does find it, make a really big deal on how smart he is. This way he’ll be more engaged to look for the object. Eventually, he’ll catch on to what the game is about and get faster and faster about looking and finding.
3. Under, Over, Through
Training your dog to do tricks like lying down and giving his paw are great mental exercises. These however don’t stimulate him physically all that much. A great game to play if you’re stuck indoors and also makes him move around is this one.
First take a chair or stool; something sturdy on four legs. Next, teach your dog how to crawl under the object and stay there, crawl all the way through the object, walk around the object, and how to jump over it entirely. Clicker training is especially effective for this since your dog has to work out what you’re asking of him, using your click-n-treats as a guide. Once he knows how to go over, under and through, you can ask him to do combinations before he earns his reward.
Another way to go about this game is to let your dog figure out what it is he should do with this object for himself, and he earns rewards for creative behaviors.
4. Tag You’re It
This is perfect for giving your dog a good workout. The only thing is that you’ll need a human partner for this one. This game encourages both running and practicing a lightning fast recall, since it makes coming when called a really fun game. Both of you will get a pocketful of treats and take turns to call your dog.
Start across the room from one another. One person calls the dog and rewards him with a treat, then the next person calls and rewards. Get farther back so that soon you’re calling from different rooms, and then from all the way across the house or apartment. The more your dog runs around the house, the better! Since we’re trying to maximize exercise and minimize food intake, once the game is going and your dog is excited, only treat every other or every third recall and use loads and loads of praise and excitement or a tug toy as a reward the rest of the time.
5. Cleaning up Time
Clean-up time can be a lot of fun when your dog knows how to put things away! This game is easy — just scatter the toys all over the house and have your dog find each one and put it away in a basket to earn a reward. Start out by first training your dog to know what “put it away” means. Work on teaching your dog to pick up a toy, carry it to a basket or box, and drop it in the box. This alone will be a fun challenge for both of you if you’re new to this trick.
Then to play the game, scatter a bunch of toys in a small area, point to one and say “put it away” until all the toys are back in their basket. Increase the difficulty of the game as your dog gets better at it by scattering the toys farther around the room, scattering them throughout multiple rooms, or even hiding them!
6. Tug of War
Playing tug of war with a dog may sometimes encourage dog biting. Therefore, we want to follow clear tug rules. In particular, make sure you control the start and end of the game. Start with a command such as Take it or Tug, to indicate that it is fine to grab the toy. End with a Drop command. If your dog loses grip of the tug toy during play, do not let him lunge or bite at it until you give the Take it command again.
If he tries to grab the toy, give a no-mark (Uh-oh), then the Drop command to stop the game. I take a short break or do some obedience commands before restarting. If your dog accidentally gets his teeth on you during playtime, give a no-mark (Uh-oh), stop the game right away, and follow-up with a short break. If your dog fails to drop the toy on a Drop command, then stop playing with him.
To remove the toy, hold it still (stationary), close to his muzzle. You are no longer tugging, just holding it still. Eventually, it will become very boring, and your dog will drop the toy. If he chooses to bite on your hands instead, give a strong no-mark (Ack-ack), and a short time-out, if necessary. This game is not appropriate for dogs who are aggressive or who have resource guarding issues.
If your dog starts to play rough with members of the household after playing, cease tug games altogether. The best tug playmate for is another dog. That way, he knows that “rough play” is acceptable with another dog, but never acceptable with a human. At the same time, he has an outlet for his rough play desires.