All pooches need to exercise, even when the weather isnâ€™t agreeable or you donâ€™t feel like heading outside. Indoor games, such as the ones listed below, will keep your dog healthy and happy. And just like training, playing with him strengthens your bond and helps him keep his focus on you.
You can modify these games depending on how your pet is best motivated â€“ favorite toys, treats, items to fetch, praise, or belly rubs. If you opt to use treats, you can keep your dog from gaining weight by using some of his mealtime kibble to play the games. Remember to keep each session brief and fun. Itâ€™s better to end the activity before your dog becomes uninterested or too excited.
Name the Toy
Have a bunch of toys that are clearly different, e.g. a stuffed chicken, sheep, and snake. Hold one up for your pooch to smell and see, then toss it, saying, â€œWhereâ€™s your chicken?â€ Give him plenty of praise when he fetches it. Repeat the process with the sheep and snake toys. Do this several times, and be consistent with your naming. Once your dog has mastered the names, set out multiple toys and tell him which one to get.
Tell your pet to sit and stay. Show him a toy or treat and place it on the floor so he can see it. Now say, â€œFind it!â€ After your dog has found the first toy or treat, increase the difficulty level by placing the next item in a more challenging location, such as behind a chair. Vary the position of the prizes. You can also set up a roomful of hidden rewards beforehand for a real challenge.
Your dog uses approximately the same amount of energy when heâ€™s challenged mentally as when heâ€™s challenged physically. Puzzle toys such as Canine Genius, Buster Food Cube, and Kong Wobbler make your dog work for his treats in a really enjoyable way!
Whereâ€™s the Treat?
You will need three to four buckets (or old margarine tubs or cups). Show your dog that you have a treat or favorite toy. Tell him to sit and stay about ten feet away, then place the prize under one of the buckets (make sure he sees you doing this). Next, say, â€œWhereâ€™s the treat?â€ and encourage him to sniff the buckets. Praise him when he paws, sits beside, or barks at the correct bucket, then lift it up so he can get his reward. You can make the game more difficult by changing the position of the buckets or pretending to place treats under more than one bucket.
Teach your pooch to clean up after playing by picking up his toys and returning them to the toy box. Then have him pick up a toy as you hold the box up to him. Say, â€œDrop it,â€ and give him lots of praise when he does. Repeat until your dog gets the idea, at which point you can just put the toy box on the floor and guide him over to it.