to keep your dog energised at home
Dogs by nature want to be outside in natural sunlight, exploring and exercising, but for a number of reasons winter makes this difficult. Many pet owners are put off walking in the dark for safety reasons, while others don’t like to get out with their dogs in the rain or much colder weather. This means our pets often have to take on a more sedentary lifestyle, with substantially reduced exposure to daylight.
Whilst it's always best to keep getting out and about with your dog during the winter months, we understand that for lots of reasons this isn't always possible - so we've created a list of fun indoor games that you can play with your dog to keep them entertained. Keeping your dog active will help to reduce the risk of them suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). To find out more about SAD click here.
Hide & Seek
Hide and seek may be a favourite for children, but it's also a lot of fun for your dog! If you have kids, you can even kill two birds with one stone. Have your children hide and the dog find them. If you don’t have another human to play with, then you'll need to rely on your dog's 'sit' or 'stay' command. Have your dog stay where he is while you go hide, and once your done call out your release word and wait for the dog to come find you. Don't forget to reward your dog with lots of positive enforcement and maybe even a treat to congratulate them on completing their challenge.
This is such an easy game to play and will put your dog's nose to good use, sniffing out their favourite toy or treats! You can make the game as easy or difficult as you like, depending on where you decide to hide the prize. Perhaps start with an easy place, until your dog gets the hang of things and then you can increase the difficulty as time goes on. You can also use a command like 'find it' so that your dog gets used to this command and that he then needs to find something hidden.
Obedience training is a really important part of building the bond between you and your dog, especially in the early days - but it's always best to keep up the good work and spend a bit of time every day revisiting commands you've trained your dog on before, and if you can't go out, what better time to teach your dog some new tricks!
If you have a long hallway or open space at home, grab your dog's favorite toy and have fun! Fetch is a great way to give your dog physical exercise indoors, and you can use lots of spaces within your home to make this more difficult (like stairs if it's safe to do so). You can also buy lots of erratic bounce toys too, which makes the whole experience even more exciting for your dog as they won't be able to predict which direction the ball may bounce in.
Tug Of War
Tug of war is physically tiring, mentally stimulating, and just plain fun for your four-legged friend. Despite popular belief, many studies have found that tug of war doesn't cause aggression in dogs and that playing it can help to improve the bond between you and your pup, improve their confidence and even redirect destructive chewing habits. Your dog must know a 'drop it' or release command so that you can easily stop the game if needed, so you may want to focus on this before you dive in. Only ever pull the chew from side to side, never upwards as this could cause damage to your dog's spine. Puppyleaks have a great article all about the benefits of tug of war which is well worth a read if you're thinking of playing. You can read it here.
Create an Obstacle Course
You can create your very own indoor, at-home agility course everyday household items like chairs, brooms, boxes, hula-hoops & pillows. Teaching your dog to complete the course could give you both hours of entertainment. If you want to get more serious, then you can order some indoor agility equipment to keep at home.
There's more and more treat puzzles available for dogs, which help to keep their brain engaged as they need to solve the puzzle in order to get their delicious reward. These are a great go-to for rainy weather, or to keep your dog occupied whilst you're out.
Arrange a Play Date
Chances are, if you're struggling to get out for a walk because of the weather - you won't be alone! Why not organise a doggy-play-date and invite another pup over for some fun and games? The excitement is bound to keep both dogs busy for hours, and will make many indoor games even more fun!