Just like us, dogs need plenty of exercises to stay healthy and hardy. During the long winter months, your dog will likely spend most or all of its time indoors. Your furry couch potato may be content to spend his or her days sleeping and relaxing, but it’s not going to do any good in the long run.
If your dog is naturally active, then you could run into another kind of problem: your fur friend could become restless and agitated.
You can keep your dog active and expend the excess energy that is built up over the winter. Here are six simple and highly effective ways to entertain your dog indoors.
1) Book a Play Date with a Friend and Their Dog
Dogs are social creatures by nature. They love to play with friends when they are properly introduced. If you have a close friend or family member who has a dog, you could invite them round for a play date.
If you’re introducing your dog to new friends, make sure that you carefully monitor interactions in a controlled environment. You should never force dogs to interact, particularly if they are showing signs of fear or aggression.
Starting a tradition of doggy play dates could be the perfect way to keep your dog active on cold and dreary days where they would otherwise be locked up inside.
2) Play High Energy Games with Your Dog
Dogs love to play, and they love it, even more, when their owners get involved.
One favorite that goes down well with virtually every dog is the classic game of ‘tug of war’. You can use a rope toy or any other suitable toy that is strong enough to be pulled back and forth between you and your dog. You can give your dog a real workout with this game, and you could even find that it helps to keep you active too.
Soft toy fetch is another fun game to play if you have space in your home.
3) Scavenger Hunt with Your Dog
Scavenging is very natural for dogs, and you could make use of this instinct by hiding food treats around the home. If you regularly do this, your dog will explore the house to scavenge every day. This will keep them occupied and mentally engaged. Just be sure to hide a treat each morning, because your dog could quickly lose interest if there’s no reward.
4) Play Hide and Seek with Your Dog
We all know the classic game of hide and seek. What you might not know is that your dog will love this game too.
There are two ways to approach this. You could tag your dog and then quickly run and hide. Be sure to give them plenty of affection when they find you so that you can build up familiarity for the rules of the game.
Another variation would be to find a hiding spot and then call out to your dog. The first option is more exciting and physical, but it might not be ideal if you have a larger dog or a small home. Try experimenting and find a system that works best for you.
5) Create Your Own Dog Obstacle Course
Hula hoop rings, boxes to jump over, and chairs to crawl under could all become the foundations of your very own dog obstacle course. For this one, you will need a fairly large space such as a living room, den, or even your garage with the car pulled out.
You can get creative with an obstacle course, just be sure to focus on fun and the physical element. An obstacle course will provide a mental challenge as well as plenty of physical exertion to get rid of any pent up energy in your dog.
6) Try Some Dog Training Exercises
The housebound months could be perfect for training, particularly if your dog needs to brush up on manners and some of the more basic commands. You could use a training book or look for online guides on sites like YouTube to help you plan your lessons. Alternatively, you could start with formal training at an obedience class and then take it from there with your own revision at home. An active dog is a healthy dog. Indoor activities can improve cardiovascular health, prevent weight problems, and they can even reduce the risk of liver disease, arthritis, and diabetes. You can use any of these activities to keep your dog fit and healthy, and you’ll both have fun doing them.