Games for Wearing Out Your Dog Without Going Outside
Looking for ways to give your dog exercise indoors?
Being able to take your dog to the dog park or your favorite hiking trail is a fantastic way to spend a lovely summer day getting some exercise, which is extremely healthy for both your dog and you. You have probably already noticed that your dog tends to be much calmer and easier to manage when they have regular opportunities for exercise.
In the winter, or during long periods of inclement weather, sometimes it is not possible to take advantage of all of the opportunities for fun the outdoors offers. All is not lost! There are many great games to get your dog engaged without even leaving the house.
Here are four great games that are easy to train, perfect for that next rainy day:
Although a favorite for outside, “Fetch” is a game that can help give your dog some physical stimulation in the house as well. Here are some tips for making it a fun game to play in the house:
- Clear a space in a room or along a hallway that is free of breakables so it is okay for your dog to get excited and bounce around without any safety concerns.
- Take advantage of a stairwell in your home to add an extra physical challenge to the game which will help wear your dog out.
- If you have a long hallway then you have the perfect spot for an obstacle course. Consider making some jumps along the hall to make fetch more interesting and fun.
If your dog already knows how to play Fetch, then they are very close to learning the “Find It” game. This game involves asking your dog to sit in one room while hiding a favorite toy in another room. When your dog successfully finds and then brings you their toy, they get a reward and lots of praise.
Find It is a game that will stimulate your dog mentally and physically. When you are dealing with extended periods of indoor time, it is critical to be able to give your dog mental exercise as well.
Here are some tips to make this game fun:
- Start with some very easy turns. In fact, let your dog see you place the toy and then get it for you. Gradually increase the difficulty, rewarding every time.
- Add the command “Find It!” only when your dog clearly understands the objective of the game: Find the toy and bring it to you for a treat.
- Eventually work up to having your dog sit in one room while you hide the toy in another room, making each search longer and getting more game for less effort on your part.
- Use high-value rewards and excited praise when your dog successfully finds the toy and brings it to you.
- Quit before your dog grows too tired of the game. This is a professional trainer’s trick for keeping dogs interested and excited about games of all kinds.
Hide and Seek
Another great game to play with your dog in the house is to play “Hide and Seek.” This is a great game for the whole family to play and it has the benefit of helping to reinforce your dog’s ability to come when called.
- Start with everyone in a circle, alternatively calling your dog and rewarding when they successfully come.
- Expand the game to different rooms of the house to add some challenge to the game. Be patient and wait for your dog to successfully find the person that has called them last rather than calling them multiple times.
- Use your cellphones to determine whose turn it is so that your dog won’t be confused by multiple people calling them at the same time.
- To make the game even more challenging, add actually hiding to the game. This makes the game extra fun for kids to play.
Some high energy dog breeds require a lot of exercise to stay balanced and stable. This can be a challenge when the weather is bad or during the cold months of winter climates. A great solution to this is to get your dog accustomed to using a treadmill for exercise indoors.
It is important that if you decide to teach your dog how to use the treadmill that you always supervise them, no matter how good they are at using it. Here are some tips for training the treadmill game:
- Fit your dog with a body harness, not a collar, for training this game.
- Take as many sessions as you need to progress through the stages of teaching this game. Keep them short and successful.
- Starting with the treadmill off, guide your dog to the platform, and reward them simply for staying on. Extend the time to at least 20 seconds, and have a reliable on and off command, before even starting the treadmill.
- Using a high-value reward to lure your dog to stay on the treadmill, hold the reward right in front of their face and have a friend or family member turn on the machine at the lowest speed and as soon as your dog starts walking let them have the treat.
- Give treats quickly and consistently. Stop the machine after a few steps, then start again, rewarding generously.
- If your dog panics when the machine is on, back up to having them just stand on the track with the machine off and progress more slowly.
- Only use gentle pressure on a leash attached to the harness to guide your dog. Don’t force your dog to stay on, and NEVER tie your dog to the treadmill.
- Never run your dog immediately after a meal or a big drink. As always, be looking to make sure your dog is well hydrated.
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to stay balanced and happy. I hope these games give you some inspirational ideas for working in this important aspect of meeting your dog’s physical and mental health needs when the weather outdoors is not cooperating with your plans for fun in the sun.
This guest post was provided by Mat Coulton.
Mat Coulton has worked with dogs for just under a decade and is the founder of WileyPup.com, a doggy lover’s website that provides great tips and advice for pet parents everywhere.