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Keeping Your Dog Occupied Indoors
We know how challenging it can be to keep an active dog entertained during this period of isolation. We have therefore put together some simple ideas to help keep your dog entertained during this time,
Game 1 Hide and Seek
Aim of the game: This will work their sense of smell… they can be one of the easiest ways to tire out your dog. If you start with the simple hide and seek game, you are mentally tiring them out and helping them hone in on some of their natural skills.
What should you hide? In addition to their normal treats, why not try some small pieces of chopped up carrot.
Step 1: Move around the room and hide the treats, have your dog watch as you place them around the room.
Step 2: Use a cue for example “find the treats” and encourage your dog to pick them up. It is important to remember to praise them every time they find one.
Step 3: Once you have established the game and feel your dog understands what “find the treats” means try making it a bit more challenging. Have them stay in another room as you hide the treats, and start hiding them in spots they have to sniff out.
Game 2: Scatter feeding
Aim of the game: by scattering your dogs food it encourages them to use their sense of smell to find their food. Instead of using a bowl to feed your dog, try scattering their biscuits over the floor, around the house or in the garden.
Step 1: To stat only scatter over a small area, until your dog seems confident and used to the new way of feeding.
Step 2: Once you feel your dog has mastered this and is finding it easy you can start to scatter the food over a larger area for them to seek out. Tip: Pick places you don’t mind them rummaging, and where there’s no danger of anything getting damaged. If they are struggling, guide them towards the locations or place some treats near the location. As they grow in confidence you can make the hiding places harder to find, or even hide the food underneath something (which can be tipped or moved easily – and non breakable).
Game 3: Slow feeders
Aim of the game: Another idea at meal times is to get rid of the food bowl and feed using a Kong or a food puzzle to get them thinking.
Option 1: If you are using a Kong and usually feed a dry kibble, firstly wet the kibble so it becomes soggy then place inside the Kong. Your dog will have to work and actively get their food out of the Kong, this is a good way of extending dinner times and keep them entertained.
Option 2: Pastes and peamutt butter products which can be placed inside a Kong or on to a Lickimat. There are a huge range of pastes and other fillers which dogs love and they keep them occupied as they lick every inch of the mat to make sure they have got every last bit.
Option 3: Put your stuffed Kong in the freezer overnight and give it to your dog in the morning as you’re leaving. A frozen Kong will last 30+ minutes for most dogs — much longer if your fill it completely.
If you are treating and using additional feeding products make sure you take this in to account with your normal feeding levels for your dog. If you have space continue to use our door games and activities.
Game 4: Play a Game of Tug of War
Aim of the game: Playing tug of war can be one of the best ways to engage in meaningful play with our dogs. It’s can help to mentally and physically exercise your dog. Dogs that play tug with their owners have been found to be more obedient plus have higher confidence. The benefit of tug of war is it doesn’t require a lot of space to play so you can play it indoors.
Step 1: Before starting set some basic rules, for example the game stops if your teeth tough my hand. Make sure you mix up who wins by letting your dog win it doesn’t mean they will become more dominant it just makes the game more fun for your dog, it will therefore encourage them to play more.
Step 2: Grab your tug toy of choice, this can be anything from their rope toy to rubber chew ring.
Step 3: Tug away
Game 5: Grooming Sessions
Aim of the Game; Grooming is an essential part of coat maintenance and wellbeing, especially at a time where we can’t visit our groomers, Our dogs need to be brushed, bathed, teeth brushed, and have their nails trimmed when they start to get long. Not all dogs find a grooming session exciting, but it is something that needs to be done from time to time.
Some dogs are more tolerant than others to grooming, but the more you practice using positive rewards the easier it will become. It is ok to hand out lots of treats during a grooming session – this will help to ensure your dog will associate grooming habits with a positive experience.
Step 1: Check you have the right type of grooming brush. You can find our guide to brushes here.
Step 2: Set up somewhere comfortable and have lots of treats to hand. Often it can be a good idea to groom when your dog is having a quieter more restful moment, maybe after a walk or play in the garden.
Step 3: Brush and reward, using positive words and treats. Start slowly and brush the top coat. Keep returning and don’t expect to be able to do a full brush the first time.