There is a lot of fear and anxiety around right now with Coronavirus, and many of across the world are experiencing quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing situations.This does become all the more tricky when we factor in those of us who have beloved dogs that need daily exercise and excess energy that needs burning off. What do we do if we’re inside all day?
Some might say the nation’s dogs are going to celebrate – many of them will have their owners/parents (hey we don’t judge which noun you choose to use!) will be at home more. After all, they love having us near as much as we love having them close by.
We’ve compiled a list of things to do with your furry best friends whilst inside the house to help keep them as active as possible and more importantly entertained – especially if we’re meant to be working from home!
Despite the adage, you absolutely can teach an old dog a new trick. Or any dog for that matter!
Keeping your pet’s mind stimulated is an important part of ensuring your dog doesn’t get bored. It can also tire them out too – I mean I sure get tired after learning something new and it’s the same for your dog too. There are lots of tricks to teach a dog and they don’t have to be the common basic tricks of ‘sit, down, paw’. The internet is a great resource full of inspiring things to teach dogs, especially those who do really well with mental challenges.
Staff dog Puzzle, loves learning new tricks. We’ve done all kinds of things with her from rolling, standing up and turning around on two legs, spinning, and getting up and down off the sofa. We also do routines such as making her sit and wait while we walk a few steps away, calling her to our side, making her do a spin before sitting down to get her much deserved reward. It helps keeps all of us entertained and helps us bond more with our dogs as we learn more about each other and how to communicate.
If you’re new trick training check out Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution. He has a great YouTube channel and covers basic training techniques up to some more advanced lessons. He also has a fantastic book available, which comes with a seal of approval from us. He has a very approachable and friendly teaching style and really knows his stuff.
Some resources that might be useful to you for trick training – a clicker and treat bag.
Interactive toys can be a great way of keeping your dogs entertained while you have to do a bit of work. They have the added bonus of boosting your dog’s mental stimulation to boot. What’s not to love?
There are many different interactive toys available on market so this is going to be a mini list within a list type deal.
Ok, so The Kong is a must-have for many dog owners out there. You can stuff this thing with a whole host of treats from biscuits to peanut butter and it will keep your pup entertained for hours.
It should also last you many years (unless your pup’s a chewer – despite Kong’s sturdiness we have known at least one or two dogs with strong jaws rip these up). The Kongs come in a variety of sizes from small to extra large. One of our staff top tips is to fill it with peanut butter and then pop it in the freezer for a bit. This will ensure the treat lasts longer!
Whilst the Kong is probably the most famous of this style of toys, you can find a whole host of other brands that do a similar thing. Staff dog Puzzle’s absolute favourite is the ‘Beco Bone’ – so much so she has two of them!
She has also spent many an hour licking peanut off this mango food toy, which you can smother in good stuff and also hide treats in.
Why, yes you can buy a board game for your pet! These little activity toys are fantastic for the inquisitive dog. Many of these toys involve putting your dogs mind to the test – they have to work out how to get a treat that will likely be hidden inside.
Again you’ll find many different versions of these and they come in a variety of abilities from beginner to more advanced and it’s wonderful seeing how your dog progresses up the track.
Here are a few that we’ve tried and recommend…
Nina Ottosson is Sweden’s expert on all things doggy entertainment. Her range of dog puzzlers are fantastic. This is an intermediate level challenge. There are flaps to lift, treats hidden under removable bones, and a few compartments to slide too. Plenty of variable challenges for your dog.
A lot of fun for your dog to play with, and a lot of fun to watch them playing with too. This is a simple design, but will keep even the smartest dogs occupied for ages. By knocking this one around, they loosen the treats which fall out of the bottom.
This one has customisable difficulty levels too, which means you can add further challenge just when your dog thinks they’re getting good at it! For a food-loving dog, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Snuffle mats are a great enrichment activity for pooches – especially those who love to sniff things out.
It’s a hugely satisfying and rewarding activity for your dog and can keep them out of trouble for a few hours. They can also be useful for those dogs who wolf down their dinner without chewing. Furthermore, the snuffle mat has the added bonus of being simple to use – you just sprinkle over treats or your dog’s normal dry kibble and let them hunt out the delicious goodies inside. They come in a great selection of sizes and colours so find one that suits your pet’s style.
If you’re a crafty kind of person there are also tutorials out there showing you how you can make one at home too.
Keeping your dog entertained whilst also keeping up their dental hygiene routine should not be underestimated. You can also try longer lasting alternatives such as an antler which will have the added bonus of not feeding your dog too much and can keep them preoccupied for longer than a standard chew – these things last for an age, and keep them entertained inside for hours.
When it comes to edible dental chews, Whimzees is our favourite brand (and our dog’s too!)
They’re natural, healthy, good value, and come in a variety shapes… which, let’s be honest, is more fun for us than our dog. But we love seeing her chow down on a little crocodile with glee.
These are pretty standard as far as dog activities goes but that doesn’t make them any less good. Playing fetch and tug with your dog will help strengthen the bond you share and that cannot be outmatched.
You can also throw in some trick training here too – you can make the play a reward for performing a trick.
There are some easy hacks to make fetch playable inside the house (particularly if it might be raining!). Why not utilise the hallway or even the stairs?
When playing fetch, to minimise risk of breakages to household items, you can try rolling the ball to prevent the pooch from skidding around too much.
If there’s two of you playing with the pooch you can get one on each side and work on calling the dog from person to person – getting in some recall training as an added bonus!
When it comes to balls, you absolutely cannot beat Chuckit Balls.
When it comes to playing tug of war, some rope toys are better than others. We’ve found this one to be nearly indestructible.
This one is a great game for those sniffer dogs – hide a treat in the house and get your dog to “find it”.
This works best with particularly smelly foods. Find out more about how to get started on playing Hide & Seek with your dog with this handy video.
So this one isn’t really a game, and many of us probably do this with our dogs all the time anyway. But in these uncertain times we are all going to need some extra comfort and support, and our lovable dogs will not turn us away.
Petting a dog is scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure so give the dog a belly rub to help ease any stresses and lets get through together.
We may think that playing with dogs is all about roaming about outside and enjoying the fresh air, but there are countless hours of fun to be had with your dog inside. What are some of the games, tricks, and toys you’re using to keep your dog’s tail wagging and their mind entertained whilst you’re stuck inside?
Let us know in the comments below. ⬇️