Stuck Inside with Your Dog?
By Josh Sunga, ABCDT
Getting sufficient outdoor time with your dog can be difficult if you don’t already have access to safe walking areas or dog parks. If you live in an area that has harsh winters and wet springs, outdoor activities involving you and your dog can also be curtailed.
Dogs Need Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Being housebound for extended periods can result in restlessness for you and your dog. Dogs of all breeds require daily exercise and mental stimulation to take away stress and prevent destructive problem behaviors. When dogs have too much energy and no positive way to release it, they will display what most owners consider to be bad or problem behaviors. To help alleviate this, you can create a variety of reward-based indoor games and activities for your dog.
What Motivates Your Dog?
All dogs are motivated and driven by certain things. As a dog owner, it’s important to determine your dog’s motivations and sensitivities. This will help determine the games or activities that best suit your dog. If you have trouble figuring out your dog’s motivations, you can contact your local certified dog trainer or veterinarian for more information on her breed’s characteristics.
All games and interactions should be rewarding to your dog. If it’s not a rewarding activity, your dog will not form a positive association with the activity and she will most likely not repeat in the future.
Breed-Specific Dog Games
The best way to determine which activities will engage your dog is by designing games that stimulate drives that are specific to her breed. All dogs were bred for different purposes or have certain characteristics that call for different types of interaction. For example, Labradors were bred to retrieve small game and objects. Different variations of fetch or hide and seek are the most beneficial for this breed.
Dogs in the Herding Group
Herding group dogs, such as the Australian Shepherd, were specifically bred to herd livestock. A fun exercise for a natural herder is following or herding a laser-pen beam. By moving the beam in various directions, you can give your dog the illusion that she is herding the beam to a specific location. Please note: if you elect to use a laser device, never shine it in anyone’s eyes, including your pet’s.
Dogs in the Hound Group
In the hound group, dogs often show marked interest in different scents and motions. A great game to stimulate hound dogs involves hiding various training treats throughout the home and allowing your dog to track the scent and earn the reward when she finds it.
What indoor games do you play to keep your dog entertained? Comment in the section below!