You’re a great pet parent. Your pup eats only the healthiest of dog foods, and follows the perfect exercise regimen for his age and energy level. Unfortunately, winter or bad weather any time of year can throw a wrench into your morning jogs or afternoon walk routine. Have you ever spent a snow day stuck indoors with an un-exercised energetic dog? As the “fur mom” of a 1-year-old adopted Boxer mix, I can personally tell you that it’s a bit like spending an afternoon with a sugared-up toddler! I love my pup so much, but when we’re snowed in and he can’t get his daily exercise, he will get into anything and everything, run in circles around my living room, and won’t stop whining. Fortunately for me, and other pet parents of higher energy dogs, you can give your dog a full physical and mental workout indoors with just a few commands and toys. Here are three games you can play indoors with your dog, no matter what mother nature is doing outside. As with any physical activity, both you and your dog should start out slowly with the intensity and duration of any exercise, and build up your strength and stamina slowly over time.
Photo credit: FlyNutAA
Playing search with your dog is a great way to exercise physically and mentally. As your dog becomes more adept at finding, you can increase the difficulty of the game by using harder hiding spots.
Name one of your dog’s toys. For this exercise, we’ll call his bunny toy Bunny.
Ask your dog to sit and stay. Let him sniff Bunny. Tell him, “This is Bunny”. Walk away a few paces and drop Bunny at your feet. Call your dog and tell him to “Find Bunny.”
When your dog runs over and “finds” Bunny, give him a treat and praise.
As your dog gets more comfortable finding Bunny, hide the toy out of sight in other rooms in increasingly difficult hiding spots.
Search games can take many forms. You can hide treats around the house for your dog to find. Or train his nose with a modified version of the shell game with kitchen pots.
The Statue Game
A great way to burn off excess energy and focus on training is the statue game. The goal of the game is to get your dog wound up and then having her respond immediately to a sit and stay command. So they need to have a good understanding of the sit and stay command first, before trying this game. This teaches her valuable listening skills for situations when she is overly excited.
Start dancing or jumping around with your dog to get his or her energy up.
Freeze in place and tell your dog to sit and stay.
Hold the freeze and give a treat and praise.
Any kind of game you play that will get your dog excited and then immediately require her to calm down and perform some of her commands or tricks will be beneficial to you both.
When your afternoon visit to the dog park isn’t an option, either because the weather is too bad or because you had to spend more time at the pet wash than you anticipated, you can try this tiring game. Ideally you’ll use a second human to help, but you can get a workout yourself going up and down the stairs too!
Position one person at the top of a flight of stairs and one at the bottom, each with a stash of treats.
Take turns calling your dog to the top and the bottom of the stairs.
When your dog gets to you, give a treat.
Immediately have your partner call him back to them.
This game will also work in a hallway if you don’t have stairs. Depending on how energetic your dog is this might be a very short game. Don’t forget to build up their endurance over days and weeks, just like if you were starting a new exercise program! Even if your dog is used to going on long walks or jogging with you, stairs work different muscles.
When to Stop
As pet owners we need to make it very clear when the game is over, especially when it involves behavior that would be unsafe in other situations. Imagine your dog sprinting on the stairs every time you went upstairs. Keep your playtime voice and mannerisms more playful. When the games are over, stand up straight use a calm tone and say “over” or “done.” It also helps to redirect your dog to his or her water and a special treat like a peanut butter filled toy that will help them transition to a more calm state.
We hope you enjoy these fun indoor games with your dog!
Michelle Rebecca is an aspiring writer, blogger, and new fur mama to a 1-year-old boxer mix rescue. She has a passion for the Internet, and loves how it connects people across the globe. She loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.