When bad weather hits, it can be a challenge to provide adequate exercise and mental stimulation to burn off the boundless energy of active dogs. During these times, dogs often become restless, which may lead to the boredom blues or the type of destructive behaviors you’ve worked hard to train your dog to avoid.
A little preplanning can go a long way to help keep dogs from getting bored while allowing them to have some fun. Indoor activities are also great on days that you’re too busy to take your dog for a walk or just not feeling well. Some fun indoor games for dogs include.
1. Indoor strength training
Provide your dog with a challenge and improve coordination with indoor strength training. Teach your dog to stand on a balance or wobble board, step over canine cavaletti poles, or balance on paw pods. Teaching your dog to do these activities will stimulate the mind and work their muscles. These exercises may not be safe for all dogs or senior dogs but some can be modified, such as placing cavaletti poles on the ground rather than having a dog jump over them.
2. Indoor walks
Walk your dog indoors and provide an extra physical challenge by teaching your dog to walk in figure eights, circles, side steps, backwards, and whatever other configurations you can think of. You can also teach controlled walks up and down stairs (if you have them). Provide an extra challenge and burn off even more energy by adding small cones or furniture to weave in and out of. This game is great because it can be modified for all dogs, at all fitness levels. As long they are capable of comfortably walking, they can do this.
3. Canine calisthenics
Try some indoor aerobic exercises by teaching your dog to do tricks in rapid succession. Teach your dog sit to stand, sit to down, play bow, roll over, high five, spin, hands up (sitting with paws up), and whatever other moves you’d like to include and create a workout routine. This game is a challenge and will take a while to master so you’ll have a tired dog in no time. The upside to this activity is that you can make it as simple or complex as you want and you don’t need any special equipment. The game can also be modified for nearly all fitness levels. Puppies like this because its high energy and lots of treats are involved.
4. Find it
Teach your dog to find objects that you hide around the house. This game is fantastic because the types of objects you can hide are virtually endless and you can also incorporate scents and treats to increase the challenge and amp up the fun. Can you imagine how great it would be to teach your dog to find your lost keys, the TV remote, or your glasses? This is your chance. Start easy by teaching your dog to find treats and toys then make it more challenging as your dog masters each task. This is also a fun game for puppies with limited attention spans and seniors who are not up to the more physical challenges.
5. Do chores
Trust us, your dog won’t know they are doing “housework” when you teach them to do their chores. Try teaching your dog to wipe their paws on a mat when they come inside, a great trick during bad weather! Or, tap into their natural tendency to shake off water by teaching them the shake command to help remove dead grass and dirt. Get your dog a toy box and teach them to take toys out and put them away. Train them to put clothes in the laundry basket or pick up items you’ve dropped. They can also learn to turn off lights, close doors, and put trash in the can. What other chores can you come up with that your dog will find fun and challenging?
6. Tricks and Tugs
Teaching old fashioned dog tricks and playing tug is always fun for dogs. It’s easy to get dogs excited by providing treats and it also reinforces simple obedience commands, such as drop it and take it. Shake, roll over, high five, touch it, ring a bell, and play dead are all tricks that use mental and physical energy but are also dual purpose. Need to examine your dogs paw? Ask your dog to shake. Need your dog to hold still, ask your dog to play dead. If your dog picks up something harmful, use the drop it command.
7. Teach your dog to dance
Teaching your dog to dance is as simple as teaching a series of exercises and tricks and setting them to music. The upbeat tempo and you getting into the act is exciting for dogs. The dance can be as simple or as complicated as your dog can grasp. The goal is to have fun but if you notice your dog has a natural aptitude, you can get serious and partake in canine dance competitions called Canine Freestyle. Some dance moves include the leg weave trick, having your dog circle around you, teaching your dog to hop, and giving you their paws.
A great way to wrap up your indoor game sessions and let your dog know it’s time to relax is by sitting down with your dog and ending the games with a canine massage. Your dog will thank you for it.