Indoor Doggy Games
I live in Southern Georgia, most people move to the South to avoid the dramas of the weather known to our cohorts to the North. Being from Wyoming, I know the joys and horrors of winter and most of the time I joke that we don’t even have seasons here in the South it is just one extended summer. However, much to my chagrin we have had a winter this year. My pipes have frozen, and I have had to scrape my windows more than a dozen times (after 3 years I had to buy a window scraper).
The whole country it seems has been experiencing a winter of record, so I thought while we are all cooped up inside we should discuss some of my favorite foul weather games to pass the time until spring comes and we can get outdoors and get the exercise we are all in need of!
Dogs need mental stimulation, without it they begin to choose naughty behavior and get into trouble. Our dogs cannot watch television, they can’t read books or do any of the things we usually enjoy when exercise outside is not an option. However, they still have the same amount of pent up energy building up day by day and they need a way to expel it.
The easiest way to entertain your dog is to give him something exciting to chew. Chewing is a minimal form or exercise and mental stimulation for your dog. Often, if we don’t provide an appropriate chewy, our dogs will begin chewing things that they shouldn’t put their mouths on. Chewing gives them something to do.
I also like to play indoor games with my dogs when the weather is bad, or when their energy level is driving me crazy and I can’t take them outside for some physical exercise. The whole point of playing games with your dog is for both of you to enjoy yourselves! Pick games or invent games that you will both enjoy.
I love to play hide and seek with my dogs!! Hide and seek not only builds a bond, it also teaches your dog to find you utilizing his other senses; his sense of smell and his sense of sound. I want my dog to know how to find me using all his senses just in case there is ever an emergency. Instead of panic at being lost, by playing this game, I have given my dog the tools to find me and he thinks he is playing his favorite game. This is also a great way to teach your dog that the word “COME” is the most exciting and fun word he can hear.
- I often use a helper (or you have to tell your dog to stay), this is great for kids, and one person holds the dog’s collar while the other person dashes off and hides.
- Both people should stuff their pockets with great treats. As soon as the person finds a fun hiding spot they should call the dog and encourage him with every step “Rover, Come…good boy, come, good boy, good boy, good boy COME!” this excitement and encouragement gives him the motivation to find you.
- When he finds you, praise him and give him a treat while person #2 dashes off to hide.
- Repeat this process. In the beginning, I like to hide in easy spots, like just in the next room, as play continues I enjoy hiding in funny places like in the bathtub, under the table or in his crate. The one rule, have fun and enjoy, your dog has a sense of humor, make him laugh!
I also like to hide my dog’s toys and teach him to find them. Find your dog’s favorite toy, first I like to wave it around in front of him to get him excited. Next I hide it in an easy spot, beside me or behind me and tell him to find it. Praise him and you can even give him a treat when he finds his toy. Next try hiding the toy in a more precarious but semi-easy place. You may have to use a helper or tell your dog to stay as you hide his toy.
- During this stage I hide the toy so it just sticks out and is barely visible. Once he has mastered this process begin to hide the toy better so that he cannot see it. Tell him to find it. You may have to follow behind or walk past the toy to help him at first. Don’t show him where it is, just stand near and encourage him to look or sniff for it. The next step is to hide the toy on all different levels in your home.
- Don’t just hide the toy on the floor or in one room, also utilize higher surfaces like book shelves or chairs, next move it even higher and perhaps even out of his reach. Challenge his brain so that he never knows where his toy might be. Sometimes, I even hide it in my pocket or in other silly places. Have a good time, mix it up and enjoy bonding.
- The next and final stage is to use a specific name for specific toys. This gives you the option to hide 2 toys at once and ask for him to bring you one. I like this game because I can hide a few toys and sit and watch TV while he has to go and find them!
There are many things to do inside to entertain yourself and your four legged friend when the weather is bad! Teach your dog a trick! Let me know what trick you would like to teach your dog!!
Don’t let the weather get you down, grab your best friend and play some games, if you do this you will build a bond that lasts a lifetime!
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.