Keeping your dogs’ occupied and not driving you mad when they’re used to going out for walks twice a day is not easy. If you’re shielding or self-isolating and can’t get them out at all, even more of a challenge. Although some dogs’ will appear content to snooze all day, they can become a bit depressed and fed up just like us. When they can’t do as much physical exercise as they’re used to, there are plenty of games and activities you can do without having to be a top-notch dog trainer. Exercising the mind, and especially their super-powered noses, will keep them happy and content.
Here at K9Adventures we do a lot of enrichment activities so I’ve put together my top fun things to do with your dog. The main one being ditch the food bowl!! Eating in seconds from a bowl is very boring and far too easy for our canine friends that would be out hunting for food out in the wild. You can scatter their kibble in the garden, hide it around the house, put it in a kong, hide it in blankets or towels, I’m sure you can think of many other places. The actvities below can all be done using some or all of their food ration, you don’t have to go using extra treats on top of their daily rations to keep them from piling on the pounds!
1. The easiest way to start is to simply scatter feed them, on the lawn, in the hallway, up the stairs, lay a trail if you’re feeling more motivated. Gets their noses working and their bodies moving without it being complicated.
2. Lay out a blanket or towel, place treats on it and roll up. You will need to show them initially how to unroll to discover the treats!
3. Recycling Rummage – one of my favourites. Save up all those amazon delivery boxes (you know you have loads!!), toilet roll tubes, empty bottles, scrunched up paper, pop them all in the biggest box, throw in a handful of kibble or treats, maybe one or 2 ‘Jackpot’ favorite treats, and let them search out the goodies!!
4. The Cup Game – using 3 (preferably plastic) cups, place them on the floor in front of them, hide a treat under one cup, mix them up then let them sniff out the right cup.
5. Make an assault course – have a look around for anything interesting to use as obstacles, could be some bits of wood/branches to make little jumps, big boxes in a small hallway to manoevre round, going under a hanging sheet, up the stairs, over the bed, through a hoop. Use some treats to lure them round it and have some fun!
6. Hide and seek – if your dog is reluctanct to leave your side scatter some treats to distract them while you sneak off to hide – keep it easy until they get the hang of it, call their name and have a yummy treat for them for when they find you!! Increase the difficulty as they get better at it! This is also great for improving their recall so training without them realising!!
7. Apple bobbing – cut up some apple chunks and put them in a bowl of water. You’ll probably ned to show them how to get them out initially. If they’re not apple lovers then carrots or any tasty treat that floats will do!
8. Hanging bottles – collect up old plastic bottles, make holes in the sides, thread on a peice of string, fill with treats and hang them up for your dog to work out how to get the treats out!
9. Yo-Yo game – really simple but gets them moving. Have a handful of treats or kibble, throw one on the ground for them, when they’ve finished that one and look back to you, throw another in the opposite direction so they go past you to get it. You can keep them moving around and increase the difficulty by moving away each time they are looking for the first piece. Slows down their feeding time no end!
10. Frozen treats. You can make up all sorts of yummy things to freeze into ice cubes for them to have on nice days. One of my favorites is smoothie made with banana, bluberrries, peanut butter and Keifer, super healthy and they love it!
11. Home-made tuggy. Find an old t-shirt and cut it into strips. Take 3 strips and knot together at one end, plait them together and tie at the bottom, easy peasy!
12. Digging pit. Dog’s love to dig, you can either section of a little area of garden especially for them to dig in the earth, or make or buy a little sandpit. Encourage them to use it by hiding toys in it.
13. Just hang out with them!! Snooze on a mat, watch a movie and have a cuddle with them, give them a brush or a bath, they’ll be greatful whichever! (they might not be quite so grateful about the bath!!)
Keep a look out for signs of tiredness or stress and if they’re not in the mood for it then leave it until another time, they need plenty of calm time and will sometimes just want to be left alone!