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Indoor Dog Activities for Dreary Days

Is your pup pining for the dog days of summer? When winter weather doesn’t allow for walks or trips to the dog park, you can still find ways to exercise your dog’s mind and body inside your home. We have some fun suggestions for indoor dog games when “sit” and “stay” get stale:

  1. Puzzle toys. Put your pup’s brain to work at dinner or meal time by hiding kibble in different compartments of a puzzle feeder, so your dog has to uncover each bite. Also consider stuffing a Kong toy with peanut butter, banana and kibble and popping it into the freezer for a while before giving it to your dog. Depending on how quick your dog’s tongue is, Fido can have hours of entertainment.
  2. Nose work. A relatively new “sport,” this canine scavenger hunt is excellent for high-energy dogs who love to track and sniff things. Start by letting your dog see you “hide” a treat in a box, then allow him to find it. Once he picks up on the game, hide the treats while your dog waits in another room. Find more information here.
  3. Clicker training. Has your dog has already mastered basic commands? If so, being stuck inside is a great opportunity to try something more advanced. When training your dog, it’s crucial that he receives his reward instantly upon performing the behavior you ask for – and that’s where clicker training comes in. Begin by associating the clicker with a delicious treat. Once your dog connects the sound of the clicker with the treat, the click itself becomes the reward. You can then use the clicker to “reward” your pup at each step of a new behavior or trick. Learn more about clicker training here.
  4. Animal-assisted therapy or activities. If your dog is a big sweetie, you might both enjoy giving back to the community. Providing animal-assisted therapy to those in need is a wonderful way to bond with your dog and share his fantastic qualities with others, and it beats lounging in front of the TV any day. Here are two great organizations you might try:
    • Pet Partners, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, allows qualified volunteers and their approved animals to visit and assist people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, the elderly and others. The Oregon Humane Society in Portland is affiliated with Pet Partners as well!
    • In the Bay Area, check out Peninsula Humane Society. Their pet-assisted program works with people in drug rehab centers, correctional facilities and medical settings, and they also have a Paws for Tales program for children who read to dogs to develop more literacy confidence.

These indoor activities and brain games for dogs will help keep you and your pup healthy and happy on days when it just isn’t possible to leave home. In fact, why not call up another dog-owning neighbor and pair up for some dog-friendly fun?