Brrr! Need some inside activities during this cold, snowy, rainy winter? Pepper says, “YES, PLEASE!”
“Find It”: Hide a particular toy and ask your dog to find it. Make the game easy at first! Leave it so he can see a little of it. Use the same toy each time at first so he learns there is a difference between “turtle” and “ball.” “Find It” also works for dinner–measure and hide kibble under chairs and the sofa.
“Hide-and-Seek”: Even if your dog doesn’t have a good stay yet, have another member of your household hold her while you go hide and then call. Again, don’t make it too hard at first!
“Stay”: This is a good time to work on Pepper’s sit-stay and down-stay, and even his stand-stay. Try for duration before building distance–then mix them up. It’s easier to stay when your handler is close by, so don’t rush the process. And don’t say “Come” to release the stay–always return and release with a word like “dismissed” or even “OK.”
“Search”: Try Nose Work! You don’t need a formal class to get started. Get six different empty boxes and put them out with a moist treat in one. Watch how quickly your dog’s innate abilities kick in! Then put the treat in a different box. Then move the boxes around. Pepper may need to try this on leash at first, but let him do the work without your leading.
Puzzle Toys: Measure breakfast and stuff it in a Kong or multiple Kongs–even frozen! Try harder puzzle toys like those by Nina Otttosson.
“Heel”: You can get a nicely focused dog if you try heeling in your hallway or around the house, back and forth. No leash required. Your dog may already do nice “loose leash walking,” so now you can up her game: she is reinforced for her shoulder being right beside your leg and encouraged every time she looks at you.
“CGC”: Many (not all) of the exercises that are part of the AKC Canine Good Citizen exam are quick and can be practiced indoors. https://www.akc.org/products-services/training-programs/canine-good-citizen/training-testing/
“Fetch”: Whether you work with a ball or plush toy or an actual dumbbell, you can build your dog’s drive to fetch. Guess what? Work closely and easily at first.
While you’re at, guess who else likes most of these games? Cats! Well, probably not Heel.
Our dogs are limited only by our imagination and coaching abilities. Stuck inside can mean learning new tricks!