Sometimes it’s just not feasible to exercise your pet. Whether due to injury, illness, age or weather, what can you do when getting your dog outside just isn’t an option?
Most dog trainers will tell you, a tired dog is a good dog. What many people overlook in exercising their pets, is that mental stimulation can tire your pet out, as well, if not better than physical exercise.
Here are six easy and simple ways to exercise your dog’s mind:
Food toys, such as the ones made by Kong, can really keep a dog busy. Some people use the food toys to feed their dog their meals (you may want to consider feeding in a crate if your dog has a tendency to be messy,) while others, such as myself use them for snacking.
Take a couple of empty boxes (shoe boxes work great) and a small salad plate, place the plate with a treat on it in one of the boxes and then tell your dog to ‘find it’. Stand near by and observe, once your dog finds the treat, use your reward word (I use YES!) and give your dog another small treat. Once your dog knows what you want from them, you can use larger boxes or other items such as bowls or pails to make the game a bit more exciting.
Another variation of this game is to hide some treats in easy spots around your house and let your dog hunt for them, similar to the way we hide Easter Eggs for children.
Hide and Seek
This is not just a game for children! Have your dog wait in a separate room while you ‘hide’. Then call your dog and wait until your dog finds you. Vary the time you wait until you call your dog as well as the places you hide.
Just because you’re inside doesn’t mean you can’t play ball! I know, your Mom told you no throwing balls in the house, but it’s easy to roll the ball and either let your dog fetch it, or teach your dog to roll the ball back to you using their nose or paws.
You can also teach your dog to pick a tennis ball up and place it in a basket or bowl, and if you can do that, why stop there? Teach your dog how to pick up his/her toys and put them away. If you’ve got a super smart dog that knows the names of toys, be specific, “Spot pick up the ball.”
Using items you find in your home make a small obstacle course for your dog. Be creative! Chairs can be used as weave poles, small wooden dowels lined up on pairs of shoes can become Caviletti’s, sofa cushions can be used to practice a sit stay.
Rally is an AKC dog sport basically consisting of a course you and your dog work together, where you stop at various stations and each station has an obedience command that must be performed. Make your own course using 8 ½ x 11 pieces of paper, use tricks or commands that your dog loves to do, or needs to work on. Then lay the instructions out in the shape of a course and go for it.
Whatever the reason you’re stuck inside with your dog, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the fun, use your imagination and make the best of it.
The sky’s the limit!
Jodi Stone is the author of Heart Like a Dog, a community based blog, where readers go to find humor, inspiration and support. Inspired by the challenges she faced when she rescued her dog, Delilah, Jodi’s goal is to let other dog owners know that their dog doesn’t have to be perfect and they definitely aren’t alone!
Jodi is cohost of the popular Barks and Bytes Blog hop, is co-creator of the DADO blog hop, and created the Caring for Critters Round Robin which resulted in a community health page for pets as a permanent addition to her blog.
Graduating with a degree in Communications, Jodi currently works as an administrative assistant.
Jodi lives in CT with her husband and two dogs, Sampson and Delilah. When she’s not blogging, Jodi can be found hiking the trails with Sampson and Delilah, spending time with her grandchildren, or cuddle up with a good book and preferably a dog.