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Rain or shine, your dog relies on you to be their workout buddy. It’s no problem staying active during the dog days of summer, but how can we exercise our four-legged friends and avoid cabin fever during the chilliest months? That’s where indoor dog activities come in.
If you can’t stand the rain but your dog doesn’t mind getting wet, you can schedule a dog walk on a rainy day. If you’re in an area where on-demand walks are available, your dog could be singing in the rain in as little as an hour.
Meanwhile, these fun indoor dog games will help you and your pooch beat the wintertime blues and use up extra energy, to boot.
Brush up on dog tricks
Those gray winter days are the perfect time to teach your dog some fun new tricks. To start, play off what your dog knows; if they’ve mastered “shake” you can easily transition into a “high five.”
Keep sessions short so Fido can absorb the new commands and get ready to show off at those upcoming holiday parties. Winter is also a great time to introduce or refresh clicker training with your dog. ‘Clicking with Your Dog‘ is a good foundational book to get you started.
Indoor digging challenge
If your dog loves to dig, you can create the opportunity indoors without all the mess. For a simple activity, pile up some hardy blankets, hide a few toys or treats inside, and let them go to town. (This is a simple variation on hide-and-seek).
Feeling ambitious? Pick up a plastic kiddie pool and fill it with colorful balls. This is a popular enrichment activity at some animal shelters.
Lastly, the iDig is a toy designed just for digging-obsessed dogs like Shirley the pug, who is featured in our review below.
Hide and seek
Turn your dog into a detective by sprinkling treats around the house for them to sniff out. Teach them the game by tossing the food their way and saying “find it.” Once they’ve mastered that, you can challenge them by hiding the treats in another room.
Start with something extra smelly and delicious like freeze-dried liver. Don’t hide treats anywhere you don’t want your dog nosing around—like inside shoes!
“Find it” can also morph into hide-and-seek once your dog understands the command.
Indoor dog activities that don’t require any action on your part include toys. And what’s better than a new toy? A toy that rewards your dog with a treat! Treat puzzles keep your dog stimulated and well-fed. They come in a variety of styles (check out our favorites here), from a basic stuffed KONG to interactive and challenging treat puzzles.
The mental exercise can help calm your cooped-up canine, while the yummy food reward will keep them coming back for more.
The flirt pole is basically a fishing pole for your dog. You can create something at home or purchase a flirt pole pre-made. All you really need is a stick, some string, and any kind of toy that really gets your dog fired up and ready to chase.
Lure your dog around you or around the house so you both get tired out.
While your dog may not be the next agility champion, an in-home obstacle course is a fun way for the two of you to play inside.
Whether you build jumps out of couch cushions or purchase some basic agility supplies like a tunnel or weave poles, working together to get through the obstacles strengthens your relationship and builds confidence.
Fetch and tug
Make the game more challenging by asking your dog to do a trick for each toss.
Tug-o-war with a soft toy or rope is another great indoor dog game. Dogs love it because it gives them an outlet for their canine urges to grab and shake. It also gives you an opportunity to work on cues like “give” and “gentle.”
Doggy IQ test
Want to test your dog’s smarts? There are plenty of ways to test your dog’s IQ at home. You don’t need any special equipment. You can test your dog’s skills with everyday items and some high-value treats.
Even if your dog isn’t the world’s greatest problem solver, it’s great mental exercise and fun for both of you.
Indoor dog park
If your dog is still raring to go after trying these indoor activities, search your community for an indoor off-leash dog park. You can take your dog for a group playdate, work on obstacles or just rent a private room for the two of you to hang out in. Indoor dog parks get you some much-needed time out of the house, but still, keep you warm and dry.
We know the urge to hibernate is strong, but playing games and challenging your dog will help you both stay active until good weather returns. No matter what the activity, it all adds up to more quality time with your best friend.
Featured image: Imgur/Hunta