Barking About: Fun Ways to Keep Your Dogs Entertained When It's Too Cold To Go Out

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Molly O'Hara

As if it hasn't been cold enough these last few weeks in the Upper Valley, it appears this storm will bring more freezing temperatures and leave many of us stuck indoors.

Some of your dogs might not have minded walking lately; we live on a gravel loop, so it's frozen, and no matter how much Musher's Secret I put on my pups paws, no matter how warm their coats are, walking has been a no go. So I have had a very, very bored puppy on my hands and it only looks to get worse. 

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To keep him out of too much trouble - i.e., chewing the branches off of the Christmas tree, attempting to destroy cards or instructions to presents, and other general mayhem, we've come up with some great ideas to tire out his brain, if not his body, while stuck indoors. And I've added some advanced ones for those dogs above Charlie's level (Callie's perfectly happy to cuddle up and sleep through the storm.)

Play Find The Treats With Your Dog

Grab some treats and have your dog watch as you place them around the room. Give your dog the cue to “find the treats” and encourage your dog to pick them up, remembering to praise them every time they find one. 

After your confident that your dog understands what “find the treats” means you can make it a bit more challenging. Have them stay in another room as you hide the treats, and start hiding them in spots they have to sniff out such as under a rug. Charlie hasn't quite gotten to this level.

The Cup Game

All you need is three paper or plastic cups and some tasty treats. Turn the cups upside down, hide a treat under one of them, shuffle if you wish, and then let your dog choose a cup. Lift the one they picked (unless already knocked over). If the treat is there, they're allowed to eat it! If not, the dog gets another choice.

Dog plays cup game

Play a Game of Tug of War With Your Dog

A simple as it seems, playing a game of tug of war is one of the best ways to engage in meaningful play with our dogs. It’s a great way to mentally and physically exercise your dog. And since it doesn’t require a ton of room you can play it indoors.

Master the Basics of Obedience Training

Does your dog know all of the basic obedience commands? Does he have a reliable recall and stay? Even well-trained dogs need a refresher course now and then to keep them sharp. All dogs should have a steady sit, down, stay, drop it, and come here. You'd be surprised, 3 5-10 minute sessions throughout the day will be a good mental workout for your dog and a great bonding session for the both of you.

Teach your dog to hold eye contact when you say their name. This is a vital skill, as you want to be able to get your dog’s attention instantly. To teach eye contact, say your dog’s name then reward him when he looks directly into your eyes. Gradually build up from a few seconds to half a minute without breaking eye contact.

Teach Some Fancy Tricks

Those gray winter days are the perfect time to teach your dog some fun new tricks. To start, play off what your dog knows; if they’ve mastered “shake” you can easily transition into a “high five.”
Other ideas: roll over, play "dead," wave, stand from a sitting position, spin.  

Teach Your Dog The Names of Their Toys

Start by playing with one specific toy and giving it a name while you do. After some practice & praise, your dog will assign that verbal name with the toy. 
Once your dog has learned that specific toys' name you can test them by seeing if they can pick it out among their other toys.

Teach Your Dog to “Go Find” Their Toys

Once your dog knows the names of some of their toys, you can teach them the “go find it” game. Have your dogs toys in a pile or container and tell them to “go find” their favorite toy. As your dog gets better at this game, you can make it more challenging by increasing the number of toys they have have to sift through.

Keep it fun for them by rewarding them handsomely with a treat or quick game of tug when they succeed. This game will give your dog a great mental workout.

Create Your Own Indoor Obstacle Course For Your Dog

This one requires your creativity too and is quite fun! Create your obstacle course inside your home. Have your dog jump over some towels, weave through his toys, and then lay down on a blanket. Use your imagination and come up with a set of obstacles for your dog to follow. Teach one move at a time. Building on prior tricks will keep your dog mentally stimulated and encourages focus. If you happen to have kids stuck at home too, this one can be fun for them!

Indoor obstacle course at home

Put Your Toys Away - Advanced!

Start by having your dog pick up a toy near where they're normally stored. Have your dog "drop it" while standing over the toy box. This might take awhile for your dog to get. But with patience and a lot of praise you'll end up with a dog that can clean up after themselves.


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