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Indoor games for dogs

It is not easy to be a pet owner during a  pandemic, specially when going out might expose us to a virus that can kill us.

It is advised that we stay at home to remain safe. Thus, we can’t bring our dogs to pet restaurants or for paw parties with pets of our friends.

However,  our dogs might be feeling cooped up and may now be experiencing cabin fever just like us.

Indoor games for dogs
Pups Amber and Amethyst playing at a larger space in the home without furniture or  items made of glass.
Here are some tips on how to put some spice and excitement in your dog’s life during a self-imposed quarantine.

These activities will also help you exercise and keep you fit while making your dog physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy despite all the limitations at this time in our lives.

Jo Yurcaba, in “11 Indoor Activities For Dogs If You Can't Get Outside”  in Woman’s Day site, shared fun things to do with your dog to keep him from going crazy.

1. Tug of war

My dog Lucas, a shih tzu, always loves to play tug with any cloth. When I come home, he always reaches for my shawl, bites it, and tugs at it.

Most dogs love to do this.

You can use any cloth like a towel or a small blanket, or a toy,  to play tug with your dog.

Playing tug helps your dog get rid of excess energy, Yucarba said.

This kind of play can also help train your dog on self-control and to prevent or redirect inappropriate use of teeth,  Yurcaba said.

This is also a good game for large dogs confined in small spaces at this time, according to veterinarian Julie Taylor.

2. Hide-and-seek using treats

I used to do this with our shih tzu Summer when she was a pup but you can do this with any dog at any age.

Get a treat, show it to your dog, then “hide” it in front of the dog.

The next time you hide the treat, do not show her where you placed it.  Tell her there is a treat waiting for her and to look for it. She will use her strong sense of smell to locate the treat.

3. Play fetch in a new way

“You can usually play fetch safely with small and medium-sized dogs inside, depending on the size of your home. But with large dogs, that might be a lot harder,” Yurcaba said.

You can throw a toy or objects safe for your dogs and yourself up and down the steps of your home or a long space like a hallway in your home.

Ask your dog to get the object and bring to you, or ask your dog to just bring what she likes to bring to you.

4. Make an obstacle course.

An obstacle course can thoroughly exercise a dog in a limited space

You can use pillows, furniture, boxes with both ends open, a staircase in your home (if you have one), and blankets to create jumps, tunnels, and small forts for your dog to explore, Yurcaba said.

You can put treats inside the box or in the “tunnel” to encourage your dog to go around the “obstacles” you have set up.

This will be fun for both your dog and you.

5. Playing from the couch

You can always keep a box full of toys beside the couch so you can play with your dog while resting or relaxing.

6. Try online classes

There are a lot of online classes on how to train dogs and care for your dog.

“Consider using an online dog training course to teach them to be more obedient or help them learn a couple of new tricks,” Yurcaba said.

Yurcaba added there are also online fitness classes for dogs.

7. Teach your dog to pull his weight

“Train your dog to pick up their own toys. It might seem impossible, but there are dozens of videos and how-tos to help you do it. That will leave one less chore for you every day,” Yurcaba said.

8. Buy or make a food puzzle game

Dogs also need mental stimulation.

“Interactive food puzzles reward your dog's natural drive to hunt and work for their food,” Yurcaba said.

This is also good for teething puppies.

Dogs who eat fast or are picky eaters will also love the food puzzle game, and having one will give you some time off so you can finish your work or a task, said Yurcaba.

You can buy the puzzle game online or you can make this yourself.

We have a mat that has small pieces of cloth sewn on top of the other.  You can use something like this and hide the treats and/or your dog’s favorite dry dog food inside. You can also hide a toy if you sew a cloth that is big enough to hide the toy in the same mat.

9. Share the treadmill with your dog

If you have a treadmill,  you can use this to swap for the morning walk which you can not do with your dog at this time.

“You might have to coax them with treats at first and keep them on a leash,” Yurcaba said.

It is best to ask your vet first if this is okay for your dog.  This is not advised for a dog who is old or has medical problems, of course.

Also, please check out the speed that is suitable for your dog with your vet, and how long he can stay on the treadmill.  These two factors depend on the age, weight, and breed of your dog.

If the weather is too hot, this is not recommended.

I also recommend strongly that you always supervise your dog when he or she is on the treadmill. Do not leave the dog alone.

Provide water to your dog after the exercise.

10. A quiet space for  your dog

If there are always a lot of people in the house,  your dog might want a “me” time and a space for himself.

“Gather blankets or your dog's bed and some of their toys to put in a section of the house where they can still see you but where they can have some time to themselves if they want,” Yurcaba said.  

It is recommended that humans pretend the dog is invisible when he is in his space. This will really make your dog feel he has his own space.

11. The shell game

Get three paper cups and a treat or a small ball.

“Let your dog watch you hide the treat or ball under one of the cups and then shuffle them. The game helps them work on their problem-solving skills," Yurcaba said.

Topics: Jo Yurcaba , “11 Indoor Activities For Dogs If You Can't Get Outside” , puppy , indoor games , COVID-19
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