Bad weather can reduce walks and outdoor activities for our pets. However, you can engage them both physically and mentally at home. Boredom in pets can lead to unusual behaviours, so it's crucial to have plenty of indoor options to keep your furry friend engaged.
These are popular among dog owners, and for good reason. For instance, try hiding a dog treat under a paper cup and encouraging your dog to find it. Start with one cup and, if successful, add another. Allow your dog to see where you place the treat and reward them when they find it quickly. You can increase the challenge by using three cups.
A simpler version of cups is where you simply place treats around the room, then make your pooch wait and say, ‘go find it’. You can start choosing more interesting hiding places and, if successful, make your dog wait in a different room before hiding the treats, and then watch them sniff them out. Great fun.
Enriching Your Dog's Mind and Senses
Snuffle mats are an excellent tool to tap into your dog's instincts while providing mental stimulation and great entertainment - not to be confused with licky mats which are dog relaxers rather than stimulators - mats are becoming more popular, and it should be easy to find one that works for you and your dog. Snuffle mats are an excellent way to engage your dog's senses and sharpness, keeping them entertained and engaged.
The concept is simple but effective. You hide dog treats within the mat's creases, and then your dog will use its remarkable sense of smell to find each hidden morsel. It's a delightful and rewarding challenge for your pet.
NOTE: We always recommend that dogs not be left unattended when using snuffle mats; treat them as a part of your indoor training and have fun watching them.
There are a variety of pre-made board games designed to stimulate your dog's play and feeding instincts. These include challenging brain-teasers that require multiple tasks to be completed before the reward is earned.
Detective Dogs and Perky Pets
Simple games like ‘hide-and-seek' are great fun. Go and hide in another room and praise your dog when they find you. Or hide your dog's favourite toy or treat in your home and have them search for it. You could incorporate more challenging tasks like running through a tunnel or creating a mini obstacle course using a blanket and chairs.
You can even turn this into an indoor agility course, where your dog jumps over broomsticks, weaves around bottles, crawls through a makeshift tunnel, and tackles a long jump over a low obstacle of books or DVDs. Let your creativity shine, but make sure that all activities are safe and do not cause any fear.
Click Your Way to Success
Clicker training is another engaging method. Dogs will learn to associate the clicker's specific sound with a reward. Clicker training can be used for basic commands and simple tricks.
If you are unsure how to use clicker training, then there are plenty of videos out there, or you can contact one of our ethical trainers for more information to fully understand this technique.
A Gentle Reminder
While playing through learning with your dog, be mindful not to overwhelm them. Short, positive sessions lasting just a few minutes throughout the day are often more successful than longer stints. You will be amazed at how quickly your dog will get tired from the stimulation.
Always finish each activity on a positive note to ensure your dog feels accomplished and content.