Fun for Fido

May 1st, 2020

If you’re getting restless being cooped up at home, your dog is probably feeling the same! Boredom in canines can lead to misbehaving or destructive behavior and sometimes even anxiety or low moods. It’s important to keep your pet mentally stimulated and entertained, beyond just regular walks or being put outside. They really want to play and interact with you, so try some of these doggie games to keep your pup (and yourself!) entertained and out of trouble.

Note: There are a lot of treats involved, so use low calorie options like pieces of carrot or potato to avoid weight gain in your pet.

Get the Kids Involved

There are plenty of simple games that the kids can handle too, including hiding treats around the house, playing fetch and teaching new tricks. Simply have your child hide healthy treats around the house while your dog watches, but waits (or ‘stays’). Then give him a ‘find the treats!’ cue and let him sniff ‘em out. As they get to know the game, make the treats harder to find so your dog really has to search.

If it’s a nice day, or you just need a break outside, fetch is a great and easy game to keep your doggo entertained and fit, plus it wears them out so they’ll hopefully take a nap or sleep better at night. This is another way to keep both dog and child busy, too! 

Here are a few more indoor activity ideas:

Dog Memory Games

Let your dog think she’s the smartest pup in the world. Put a treat in one hand and let your pet sniff to guess which hand, when they guess right, give the treat. Or use three upside-down cups and place a treat under one cup, letting your dog watch. Mix the cups around and let her sniff them, when she sniffs the right one, lift up the cup and let her gobble the treat. Their powerful noses should make this game fairly easy for them, which is great! We don’t want them to get frustrated, dogs like to win, just like us.

What’s your toys name?/ Tidy Up Toy Game

Keep your dog stimulated, and the house clean, by teaching your dog to pick up their own toys. First, teach them the names of their toys by calling each toy it’s name as you play with it. Over time, your dog will associate that name with that specific toy and be able to find it when you ask for it. Once they have the hang of this, you can teach them to bring each toy to you or their toy-box at the end of the day.

Agility/Obstacle Course

Another great activity for the whole family is to create an obstacle course. Use empty boxes, blankets, pillows, paper towel rolls, whatever you can find! Create a course where they can weave, climb, go through tunnels and complete tasks. Go through the course first (or have your kids go) so your pup can see how it works. Then use praise and treats to celebrate a job well done.

Pamper your Pup

While we can’t take our dogs to the groomers right now, you can (and should!) regularly brush your pup. This will prevent mats in their fur, keep their coat shiny and help with shedding. Be careful if your pet has any skin sensitivities or allergies and brush lighter or less often. But your pup will enjoy the scritches and you’ll keep some fur off the couch. Consider adding some massage actions to relax your pup and build your bond. Older dogs will especially appreciate this as massage helps soothe arthritis, improve circulation and relieve stress and anxiety.

Feeding time

If you’ve got a dog that gobbles down their food before it even hits the bowl, consider make things just a little more challenging. You can buy a puzzle bowl which forces them to work a little harder to reach every last piece of kibble. Filling a Kong with their food will also increase the amount of time and effort it takes to eat.

Kong ideas

A Kong is a great way to keep your dog occupied, especially if you’re busy. Fill the Kong with a mixture of wet and dry food and simply let your pet lick the food out. They bounce around so play time is encouraged! You can try different recipes with leftover human food, but be sure to check that it’s safe for dogs to eat. Peanut butter, fish, carrots, eggs, rice and spinach are all safe dog food alternatives (see complete list here). Mix up any crazy creation, your dog will love it. Try putting a Kong in the freezer to keep especially fast eaters busier for longer, these are also great for hot days.

Being at home more is a great chance to teach your dog new tricks! This will require a bit more commitment and time. So take advantage of the extra time you’re spending at home to work on obedience. Using a clicker is a great way to get your dog conditioned by marking the exact moment your dog does the desired action, then treating them, of course.

Remember to go slow with new tricks and games so your doggo has a chance to learn the names of their toys, games and new commands. Always use encouragement and never punishments, this is play time, so keep it fun and light hearted. Dogs love a bit of structure to keep them from getting anxious or having too much pent up energy. We can all relate to that feeling lately!

What games have you come up with for your dog? We’d love to see your ideas and what works (or doesn’t) in the comments below.

Enjoy this extra time you have to strengthen the bond with your pets and loved ones, and have fun!