6 Indoor Activities to Entertain Your Bored Dog
Weather often forces us to be inside the house during the day.
It may be rainy, or freezing, or too hot to function outside safely.
And, although I don’t embrace blaming the weather as an excuse for not taking your dog out for exercise (there is usually a time of day that is better and less affected than another), I do realize that it can happen.
So, on those days, it is important that your dog has some kind of mental stimulation while he is inside the house and bored.
Think rainy day and toddlers.
Your dog still needs to have his mental and physical needs met even if he can’t spend a large amount of time outside!
Here Are a Few Ideas to Help Entertain Your Bored Dog Indoors:
1. “Find It”
I like teaching my dog how to use his nose.
Many dog breeds have been specifically bred to use their nose to hunt.
It can be beneficial to teach these dogs to use their nose appropriately.
I begin with teaching them the “find it” game.
I, personally, like using popcorn for this game. It is easy to see and easy to find as well as being low calorie and low fat.
At first, I begin by showing my dog the popcorn, and tossing it while saying “find it”.
I want my dog to chase after the popcorn.
After a few tosses, I need to be able to teach my dog to use his nose and not just his eyes, so I toss one that the dog can see and as he goes to get that food reward, I toss another (close by) that he cannot see.
After he has consumed the first treat, I command him “find it” again and wait for him to begin sniffing and looking around.
If he doesn’t find it easily, I simply make a step toward the treat without pointing it out. Again, I want my dog to learn to sniff and find an item.
Once my dog is pretty good at this, I begin tossing treats behind his back fairly far away so that he has to sniff and look around to discover the treat.
Eventually, you can hide the treats under furniture and on top of furniture and allow your dog to use his nose to find his tasty treat.
2. Indoor Scent Work
Once your dog has figured out the above game, you can begin to use certain scents and teach your dog to find them.
Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress are the scents used for AKC scent detection or “Nose Work”.
You can also use approved spices (for instance nutmeg is toxic to dogs) or other scents used for hunting (deer, fox, etc.) which can be found online or at places like “Bass Pro Shops”.
At first, you can condition the dog to smell and find the scent with a great reward.
When the dog sniffs, click and reward.
Then, begin hiding the reward like in the above description.
First “hide” it in a fairly open area.
Once the dog gets the idea, you can begin to make more complicated hides.
Use different heights.
I don’t always hide the scent on a certain surface (like the ground); I prefer to use many different heights (i.e. a chair, the sofa, an accessible counter, and the ground).
This is great mental exercise for your dog!
“Push-ups” is another fun game!
And it is easy, provided that the dog knows how to sit and lie down.
I like my dog to sit and down in rapid succession for several “sets”.
The trick to this game is “the faster, the better”.
And, if you want an extra challenge, teach your dog to “stand” on command.
That way you can choose “sit”, “down”, or “stand”.
Again, this can be great mental stimulation for your dog when he is bored.
I LOVE TRICKS!
Tricks can be a Godsend to a boring puppy training regimen!
I take basic, intermediate, and advanced dog obedience very seriously (meaning you can’t choose not to do these commands when I ask).
You can choose not to perform your trick.
If you choose not to listen, you WILL NOT be rewarded.
This, in and of itself, usually ensures that the dog learns to listen!
After all, he wants the reward.
There are literally hundreds of commands and things you can teach your dog.
From finding his specific toys on command, to:
Say Your Prayers
The list can pretty literally be unlimited.
5. Puzzle Games
Puzzle games have been a great invention for dogs!
You may not always be able to spend all day with your dog exercising him, working on his training, or otherwise entertaining him.
Puzzle games can be a great way for your dog to entertain his mind when he is alone.
Most of these games require you to hide food in an object and then your dog has to figure out how to get the reward out!
This is a great way to feed your dog!
Click here for a great comprehensive list of puzzle games for your dog.
6. Catch Him Doing Something Right
This is probably MY FAVORITE.
So often we discount when our dog does something “right”.
Perhaps he lays down to chew on his bone, or he sits quietly at your feet while you are making dinner.
It is crucial to reward these choices.
By rewarding these choices, we are communicating to our dogs that we like these behaviors.
This communicates to the dog that these behaviors are rewarding, so that he can choose these behaviors more often!
You will find your dog constantly trying to show you the wonderful things he is doing!
Too often we are busy pointing out only the bad things that our dog does and ignoring, or “expecting”, the good.
When what we should be doing is telling them when they do something that we want to continue to see!
If you play this game, you will see a HUGE change of behavior in your dog within a few short days!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.