April showers might very well bring May flowers, but they also bring mud puddles and bored dogs that are stuck inside. In this article, I’m going to share with you a few indoor games to keep dogs of all energy levels happily busy.
Let’s start with our lower energy dogs first. These may be our older babies or those dogs that just naturally have a calm disposition. All of these games will get the dog’s mind and nose working in tandem to achieve a satisfyingly tired pup. My first suggestion to start them off would be a snuffle mat. Snuffle mats are a great way to get a dog started with nose work type games. The treats are in one central location and are rather easy to get from in between the bits of fabric. Starting out simple ensure your dog gets a “win” in the food puzzle category of games and therefore will want to play again. Because the snuffle mat stays in one place and the treats are easy to access, it makes them an ideal toy for our senior pups that can’t get around as well as they used to. Snuffle mats come in many shapes and sizes to make it simple to find one that fits your dog’s personality. Food puzzles are next on my list for our low-key friends. Food puzzles come in many different skill levels to keep the activity interesting for your dog. You can load the food puzzle with treats or their normal ration of kibble. Kong toys are probably the most recognized food puzzle on the market but there are many other great options to pick from. Some of the toy brands that have food puzzles are Outward Hound, Trixie, and Ethical pet. They have fun puzzles with names like the Dog Tornado, Poker box, and the Mad Scientist; ensuring that there is a special puzzle out there for every dog to enjoy. Another game to occupy your dogs time is one that you can play with them. The shell game is super fun to play whether they are looking for a treat or a toy. You may need something larger than a Solo cup to hide a toy under, but it would be a fun variation.
Next, we will discuss the needs of moderate energy dogs. These pups require a bit more movement than our first group, so we are going to implement the nose work skills learned in the low-key section and make them search a bigger area. Our first game is called Treasure Hunt. In this game, we hide treats in several locations and ask our dogs to go and “find it”. To teach your dog the find it cue you want to start with a cardboard box, throw a treat in while they watch you, and ask them to “find it”. Once your dog starts to understand that treats come in cardboard boxes you can place a few food loaded boxes around a room while your dog isn’t watching and have them find it when they return. Progress on to hiding treats around the room that aren’t in boxes next. You can also play this game with their favorite toys. Hide-N-Seek is another version of this game that you get to have more involvement in. Ask your dog to wait in another room while you hide and then call them to come and find you. Fetch can still be played on a bad weather day, but you will want to substitute the hardball for a stuffed toy and find a place with adequate space like a hallway or large living area.
Finally, let’s discuss some games for our high-energy dogs. The next level up in the Treasure Hunt game is to find and destroy. Your dog is going to play the same game of finding the treats hidden around the house, but this time the treat will be enclosed in a paper or cardboard tube. The destroy part comes in when your dog has to tear apart the tube to access the treat. Obviously, it should go without saying that if your dog has a naughty habit of stealing things they shouldn’t in order to shred them up, this is not the game for them to play. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if your dog likes to dig, giving them somewhere constructive to do that behavior can save your flower garden. Our next game is an indoor version of a sand-type dig box. You are going to grab a large sweater box or a slightly deeper tote (depending on how tall your dog is) and fill it with plastic water bottles, crumpled paper, toilet tubes or kids playpen balls. Once you have it set up, you can either hide their favorite toy or treats for your dog to find amongst the other objects. If your high-energy dog requires even more activity games like Tug or Monkey in the middle might be more their style. Again, make sure you are using a soft toy in the house in case you miss your intended target and end up hitting something you weren’t aiming for. Monkey in middle is a great game to end up occupying your kids and the dog.
Whether you have a senior dog with low energy or a super high energy puppy, with a little bit of creative ingenuity you can make up a ton of fun games to play inside or out. If your time is super limited, or you just need a day to run errands, we at Brook-Falls Luxury Pet Resort & Doggy Day Care would love to play with your dog in our Enrichment Day Care program. In this wonderful enrichment daycare program, we play a lot of these same games as well as work on some behavioral cues needed for good manners and let them play with other dog friends. Give us a call today and see if our day care program is right for you and your dog.