When the weather outside is frightful, what do you do when you have a dog, or dogs in the house? How do you keep them from going stir crazy? While you will still need to give them access to the outdoors to do their business, they may not be able to withstand the cold long enough to drain their excess energies.
Here are some tips and fun games we recommend to keep our dogs from feeling bored and frustrated when we can't get outdoors.
It's important to note that mental stimulation is far more tiring for dogs than physical stimulation is, which is good news if you're stuck indoors. Having some brain games ready for your dog(s) will make all the difference in how well they weather the storm!
What Does Your Dog Like?
While we can make anything fun for our dogs, it's nice to start with something they'll find enjoyable. So make a list of the obvious things your dog likes and then plan your games around those likes. Here are some ideas:
- Trick training - does your dog love learning new tricks? There are so many great tricks you can teach your dog. If you don't know where to start, try our YouTube channel. We have several hundred videos - many of which are tutorials for tricks.
- Sniffing games - does your dog love sniffing? Would they make a great tracking dog? Here's a super opportunity to find out! Start by hiding treats in easy locations and as your dog shows that they understand how to use their nose, you can make the hiding spots harder to find. Check out this previous blog post on teaching scent games in the house.
- Seeking games - There are wonderful things out there that you can use to hide treats in. All sorts of balls and toys that will distribute kibble to your dog. You can also buy or make your own "snuffle mat" which you can use to drain some of your dog's energy while they eat their dinner. If you don't feed kibble, treats broken up will work as well. Any high pile carpet like these Dirty Paws doormats will make a great snuffle mat, but you can find snuffle mats on Amazon or make your own. Here's are two previous blog posts we put together to make your own dog toys. Make a cheap mind game toy from empty plastic bottles here. Make your dog their very own fidget spinner here.
- Retrieving games - Every dog can learn to retrieve - be it in their genes or not. Here's a tutorial we've made on how to teach a great retrieve. If your dog already loves to retrieve, you can add further criteria, such as delivery to hand or search and retrieve, where you hide an object for your dog to retrieve for you.
- Tug Games - These will go hand in hand with your retrieve training. Teaching your dog to tug is a great game that doesn't require a lot of space. Check out this great tutorial on teaching your dog to play tug
- Commercial mind games - You can purchase all kind of brain games for your dog. Check some out at Ren's Pet Depot!
Your dog will appreciate being able to drain some of their mental energy and you'll, no doubt, appreciate having a calm and content dog in the house.
As always, Happy Training!
Hi! I'm Shannon and I joined the McCann team in 1999 while training Quincey, my wonderful and spirited Rottweiler, to have good listening skills. I'm the Director of Online Training and Content for McCann Professional Dog Trainers and I enjoy writing about dogs and dog training for the McCann blog. I currently share my life with 2 Tollers (Reggie & Ned) and I love helping people develop the best possible relationship with their 4-legged family members. Join us for a FREE lesson at MyDogCan.McCannDogs.com.