At the moment we’re in the midst of social distancing here in the UK due to Coronavirus. We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of living. Our four-legged friends too. Perhaps your canine pal is used to exercising several times a day, accustomed to 2 or even 3 outings a day. Adapting to one outing per day to fit within government guidelines is likely a shock to your outdoor loving doggo.
Or maybe your home is usually a bustling environment, with frequent visitors to dish out that mental and emotional stimulation, but now it’s just you and your faithful friend home alone.
It doesn’t mean the fun has to stop though, that your canine bestie has to miss out on workout time, brain training or play. It just means a change in routine and a change in activity. As the saying goes “a change is as good as a rest” it’s a great opportunity to try something new. Who knows what you might discover your furry friend is capable of.
We at ProDog wanted to share our ideas for doggo activities designed for mental and physical stimulation. Let’s face it, if you’re lucky enough to have a slobbersome pooch pal at home with you, then you’re super lucky. There’s nothing to beat the companionship during times of isolation than an animal friend. Let’s show them how much they’re appreciated with a dog’s most favourite pass time, play time!………. (well aside from eating that is )
1. Obedience and Trick Training
A great way to entertain, enhance those communication skills, and reinforce the bond with your doggo is teaching some new tricks or obedience skills.
If your woofer is skilled with the basics of sit and come here, then why not try something new like roll over, high five or sit pretty? Include rewards and your dog will LOVE training sessions, they’ll be super enthusiastic to get learning.
Keep the sessions short to start with, around 15-20 mins and always finish your session on a high. Finish with something he knows well, give extra fuss at the end of the session and it will keep woofer excited for next time.
2. Dog Puzzles and Brain Games
There are a whole range of puzzles and games out there designed especially for our four legged friends. Studies have shown the brain uses a high percentage of the body’s energy, so a brain workout will be just as tiring for your dog as a physical activity.
Start with something simple and work up. There are very simple treat dispensing toys available which require interaction, very elaborate games which encourage problem solving and everything in between. Consider the right level for where your dog’s skills are at. Starting with too complex too soon may result in your dog losing interest. Once doggo has mastered the straight forward, move onto the more intricate challenges.
Who doesn’t love a tug-o-war with their canine bestie? This is a perfect activity to burn off a heap of physical energy without needing much space. All you need is a tug toy or an old towel.
One reservation people sometimes have about this type of play is that it can encourage aggression and dominant behaviour in their dog. No need to worry though. Two researchers Rooney and Brandshaw ( University of Bristol in 2003) studied the effect of various types of play on the dominance dimension of the dog-human relationship. The study showed that dogs who play tug with their owners tend to be more obedient and exhibit higher confidence.
It’s important though to teach doggo the tug-o-war rules. With any game it’s essential to teach boundaries. Here are a few suggestions:
- Bring out the tug toy and teach doggo to only pick it up on a command e.g “get it”
- Practice releasing the toy on command e.g “drop it”
- Incorporate obedience commands within the play session, such as “Sit” or “Down” prior to instructing them to “get it”
- On the final “drop it” command, reward the dog with a treat, and put the tug toy away until next time to indicate clearly the game is over.
Always teach that “the game stops if your teeth touch hand.” Be consistent with letting them know that any teeth touching your hand is not allowed. Tug play in this type of structured way is a great way to teach them basic impulse control and manners.
4. Find the Hidden Treats
This is a game your doggo will absolutely love. Play and treats is basically heaven in dog world. Check out our full natural dog treats range for our outstanding, 100% natural, guilt free treats.
The aim of the game is for your furry fried to burn off some energy by rushing about the house or the garden searching out favourite treats. Dog’s have super powered noses and live for treats so this is a game which is totally instinctive to them.
Start out easy until woofer gets the hang of it by commanding sit, and hiding treats where they can see you. Give the “go find” command and remember to give heaps of praise when the treats get picked up. Once this stage is mastered you can move onto more challenging hiding places, encouraging use of those super powered sniffers to find the prize.
5. Chasing Bubbles
If you want a happy, entertained and exercised doggo then this game achieves the lot. Wait until you see that grin on those slobbersome chops after 5 minute bubble play. It’s also a ton of fun for us hoomans.
Make sure you buy non-toxic bubbles. If doggo is looking at you blankly when you first try this, don’t worry, chasing bubbles isn’t instinctive like sniffing out treats, so you’ll just need to take some time to teach.
- Don’t flood the space with too many bubbles, start by blowing one or two bubbles at a time
- Try pointing to them and issuing a command they recognise e.g “get it”
- Encourage your dog to “catch” the bubbles while they’re floating around by demonstrating yourself and catching them in your hands.
As with anything new just allow time and patience and you’re pooch pal will soon catch on.
To make it even more fun if you have slow motion or hyper speed options on your camera phone, once woofer is in the swing of bubble catching, it makes for amazing funny videos.
6. Treadmill Training
Now we know this one won’t be possible for everyone, but for those of you who do have a treadmill at home, did you know you can train your dog to trot along happily on one?
A great way to get that all important physical exercise in when outdoor walkies isn’t possible.
It’s essential that you teach doggo step by step how to use the treadmill safely, they’ll need extremely close supervision. Read up or check out trusted You Tube source for a range of instructional videos on how to get dogs started with treadmill exercise.
7. Play Date with the Neighbour’s Dog
Got a friendly four legged neighbour whom your pooch is pals with? If so why not have them over for a play date? Dogs enjoy spending time with their own kind, it’s an important part of emotional and mental stimulation. Just like socialisation for humans is important, the same applies to our furry friends. A couple of hours with their bestie from the same species will provide variation and stimulation which will be appreciated.
So there you have it! 7 ideas to ramp up the dogtastic entertainment in your house. Drop your indoor play pics or videos into our community group on Facebook, we’d love to see the shenanigans you and your four legged bestie are getting up to. Don’t forget sharing them may also inspire someone else to get some doggo fun happening in their home too.