Great In­door Ac­tiv­i­ties For Bored Dogs

Does in­clement win­ter weather have you and your dog spend­ing more time in­doors than ei­ther of you would like? Is your dog giv­ing you “the eye,” that look that says: I’m bor­rrrrrrred. A quick fix—one that doesn’t re­quire don­ning boots—is to get that men­tal

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#1 The Name Game

In­crease your dog’s vo­cab­u­lary: work with her to teach her the names of her toys. Dr. John W. Pil­ley, au­thor of Chaser: Un­lock­ing the Ge­nius of the Dog Who Knows a Thou­sand Words shares how to get started: “Start with your dog’s favourite toy and play with that one ob­ject while giv­ing it a name. What you are do­ing is as­so­ci­at­ing the ob­ject with play, there­fore giv­ing the ob­ject value to your dog. Once the ob­ject has value, the name of the ob­ject will take on value for your dog. We did this with Chaser when she was just two months old, in­tro­duc­ing her to “blue” which was a ball. For three days we would play with “blue,” con­stantly re­peat­ing the name. I would have her fetch “blue,” catch “blue,” find “blue.” When I would ask her “where is blue?” it would be the only toy on the floor, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for her to make a mis­take. As we re­peated this with lots of toys, she quickly be­gan to catch on, fi­nally hav­ing that “aha mo­ment” and un­der­stand­ing that her toys had names.”

#2

Hide & Seek

Hide and Seek is great fun and teaches your dog to look for you and de­sire your com­pany. This is a great bond­ing ex­er­cise! (See page 60). Sim­ply hide your­self some­where in your house, such as be­hind a door or in an­other room (or at the dog park once you’ve got the in­doors down) then call your dog to you. Once she finds you, re­ward with great ex­cite­ment, praise, and a treat or two.

#3

The Great Cookie Hunt

This takes but a minute of your time and is al­ways a great suc­cess, bright­en­ing up a dull af­ter­noon when you’re oc­cu­pied with com­puter or house­work and your dogs are ly­ing bored at your feet. Ask your dogs to wait in an­other room (if their “stay” isn’t great, have some­one hold on to them), then take tiny dog cook­ies or liver treats (break them into lit­tle pieces if they’re large) and hide through­out your living room—on the base­boards, on the edge of the cof­fee ta­ble, on the win­dow sill, ran­domly placed on the floor—then re­lease the hounds! Your dogs will have a blast hunt­ing for the treats and see­ing them scram­ble to find the treats will doubt­less put a smile on your face.

#4

Teach a New Trick

Dogs love to be chal­lenged and teach­ing them new tricks is a great way to have fun to­gether, ex­er­cise your dog’s mind, and im­prove your bond—par­tic­u­larly when praise, cud­dles, and tasty treats are part of the process. A fun and use­ful one to try: pick up your toys. If your dog knows the “drop it” com­mand, sim­ply give him a toy then put a bin be­neath him. Ask him to “drop it” so that it lands in the bin then im­me­di­ately give him a treat; re­peat un­til he catches on. Once he’s made the cor­re­la­tion, leave the bin out and ask him to “get a toy;” once he’s grabbed a toy, mo­tion to the bin, wait un­til he’s over there then ask him to drop it. Praise and re­ward. Work on this a lit­tle ev­ery day and soon you’ll have a hand in tidy­ing the house! An­other cute one to try: sneeze on com­mand. You’ll have to wait to cap­ture this be­hav­iour—wait un­til your dog sneezes and then re­ward. Do this ev­ery time she sneezes and she’ll soon catch on. (This one makes a very popular party trick!). A few min­utes brush­ing up on ba­sic obe­di­ence is al­ways a good idea, too.

#5

Puz­zle It Out

Work that brain while pro­vid­ing a treat. Our dogs like to be chal­lenged and they also (duh) love food. Com­bine the two and you have a recipe for suc­cess! Toys to try that will work that men­tal mus­cle and keep your dog busy and en­gaged:

Any and all of Nina Ot­tos­son’s puz­zle toys Th­ese awe­some toys keep your dog oc­cu­pied and men­tally en­gaged (see inset photo) and many come in lev­els so you can start easy and build up to more dif­fi­cult puzzles.

Any stuffa­ble toy, such as a Kong Th­ese low tech toys get the job done, keep­ing your dog busy try­ing to get out the goodie (peanut but­ter, frozen dog food, liver treats) nes­tled in­side.

Re­quired Win­ter Read­ing. Dogs are smart. Ex­hibit A: Chaser, a Bor­der Col­lie that knows over 1000 words. Amaz­ing, yes, but achiev­able. Get your dog started on the path to su­per-ge­nius with a copy of the fas­ci­nat­ing Chaser, Un­lock­ing the Ge­nius of the Dog Who Knows a Thou­sand Words. We loved this book and def­i­nitely came away in­spired.

Nina Ot­tos­son puz­zle toy

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