Whether it is because of bad weather or stay at home orders in your state due to coronavirus, there are many reasons why you might find yourself with a little more time indoors with your pup.
As temperatures start to drop in many parts of the United States, and outdoor group activities are still considered safer than indoors, you may be wondering what this means for you and your pup.
If you are worried about your pup getting bored staying at home and getting into trouble, don’t worry. We came up with 12 fun indoor activities that you can do from the comfort of your own home to keep your pup entertained and maybe even tire them out for a well deserved nap.
We have some high energy ideas for puppies and dogs who love to work and some more low key activities for pups who are happiest napping on the couch. Whatever your pup prefers, we’re sure they are grateful for some extra time at home with you!
For pups who love to chase, take your game of fetch indoors. If you have a long hallway or some open space in your home this is a great way to burn off some extra energy. Be careful when you throw whatever your pup is fetching for you, as you don’t want to break anything.
You might even temporarily rearrage some furnature to open up your space and options for play. This could be as simple as temporarily relocating a coffee table so your pup has more space in the living room.
If you don’t have enough space for a traditional game of fetch with a ball, rope or other toy, you can teach your dog to fetch other objects. If you want your pup to feel extra useful, teach them to fetch you a beer (or soda).
If your dog likes to "help" try teaching them to help you get the laundry out of the dryer or fetch people. You could use the cue "find mom" or "find dad".
2. Tug of war
Have a high energy dog and a smaller space? Having a rousing game of tug can help burn off some of that energy, even in an apartment. If you have enough room to toss the tugger away from you, try letting your dog run for it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they get tired. Be careful around furniture. You don’t want to break the coffee table or a shelf full of glasses as that would put a damper on all the fun.
Mental stimulation can be just as important as exercise for your pup. Letting them sniff out a delicious treat could be just the activity your pup needs. Especially if they aren’t overly athletic. You could keep things simple by hiding a few delicious treats around one room of your house or using a snuffle mat and letting your pup dig out some tasty morsels.
If this is too easy for your dog and you need a challenge, The AKC has a great guide to teaching your pup scentwork at home. If you find yourself with extra time indoors this winter, this could be a great learning opportunity for you and your dog.
4. Obstacle course
Whether your pup is an aspiring agility star or you’re just getting really bored, you can create an indoor obstacle course for you and your pup. By moving the fun indoors you can play a bit longer and avoid cold, wet damp weather or even ice and snow. If you have a small tunnel you can use that and create things for your pup to jump over (not too high) weave around or even add a pause table like in a real agility course. Broom handles threaded between two chairs make a great ‘jump’ and if you can’t make that work, toilet paper is another good option (assuming you’re stocked up).
5. "Clean up your toys"
If your pup has basic understanding of fetch and drop it, you can combine these tricks and teach them how to pick up and put away their toys on command. Start by offering your pup a toy and having them take it in their mouth. Then work on having them drop the toy on command. Once your dog is doing this consistently, have them start dropping the toy in your hand. Then work on having them drop the toy in their toy box. The final step is asking your pup to carry the toy from somewhere else in the room to the toy box and drop it in. It might take several sessions to get this chain of commands solid, but that’s okay. Don’t rush with this one and you’ll have plenty for your pup to do! This is a great activity to work on when you can't spend as much time outdoors and your pup is pulling out every toy they own to beat the bordom of too much time inside. If you dog enjoys dumping their toybox you can teach them to help you clean up when it is time.
While this activity may be more active for you than your pup it can be a great bonding experience for you both. If you practice from home, allow your dog to sit with you in an opening meditation. They can chew their bone on a bed next to your mat or even participate in your practice! The best part is puppy kisses during the hard work like low plank or even a snuggle in savasana. Remember to go with the flow and it is okay to laugh when your puppy weaves through your legs when you're in warior II or jumps all over you when you're trying to balance. As your winter workouts may be now limited to what you can do from home, you may find that as you increase the frequency of your in home yoga practice your dog continues to find interesting ways to participate too!
If you’re stuck in the house and need something to do that doesn’t take up much space, work on some tricks. High five, spin, twist and sit pretty are all tricks that can be done in small spaces indoors. If your pup is feeling creative, you can even teach them to draw a picture with their paws. You’ll need some of this scratch paper and a clip board so your pup can work. Make sure your pup is ready to work and you have some tasty treats to share as they work through each one or learn something new.
If your pup is taking to the trick training and you want a bigger project to take up some of the long winter days, consider training for your American Kennel Club trick titles. You can see how far you can go, as the AKC has many levels from novice to advanced performer. Most of these certificaitons can be earned virtually by submitting a video to a qualified judge.
Recall is one of the most important skills you can work on with your pup. If you’re stuck inside you can work your recall without distraction. This might not be enough of a challenge if your dog has a pretty solid recall. To up the challenge indoors, consider turning recall into a game of hide and seek.
Try recalling your dog from further away or another room. Another way to make recall harder indoors is to add distractions. Ask your dog to recall past other family members, the cat or even a tasty treat.
Like recall, stay is a basic but important skill to work on. If your dog knows stay and can hold it for about a minute there are still plenty of ways to practice and advance your stay. You can build up your pups stay duration to 90 seconds or two minutes, add some distance by asking your dog to stay while you go somewhere else or add distractions like other people, pets, toys or treats. A good easy distraction might be to walk in circles around your pup while they hold a stay. To make it harder, run, skip or if you’re tight on space try a few jumping jacks to keep things interesting.
10. Spa day
If your pup enjoys this kind of pampering this is an easy activity to spend some time together indoors. If your pup hates the bath or any of these other grooming activities, you can use your time indoors to help them improve their comfort level. Remember to ensure that your pup is fully dry after a bath before venturing back outside, even for a potty break. It is no fun to be out on a really cold day with wet hair! If you need to take your dog to the bathroom and they aren't fully dry, try a jacket or sweatshirt to keep them warm and cozy so they can do their business and get back to being dried off.
If your pup hates being brushed, go slowly, use positive reinforcement and tasty treats and remember to keep sessions short. In the cooler weather you also may want to watch out for dry, itchy skin. If your pup's skin is cracking because it is so dry, chances are being brushed out could be uncomfortable.
Another thing to watch out for during your spa session is an aversion to teeth brushing or ear cleaning. If your pup doesn’t love having their teeth brushed or ears cleaned you might want to consult your vet. While it is possible that its just not a favorite activit you want to make sure they don’t have dental pain or an ear infection. If your vet isn’t currently seeing non emergent patients in the office or the roads are icy, consider telemedicine as a first step in getting to the bottom of it. This will help you avoid a trip to the vet if it is unnecessary.
Getting some great photos of your pet is just a bonus. If you spend some time doing a photoshoot you can ask your pup to practice their tricks and obedience skills for the camera!
To make a shoot fun and special consider some grooming first as well as adding fun costumes or accessories like bow ties or bandannas. You can take photos in every room of your home and choose your favorites. Feel free to share on social media and add some fun filters! If you aren’t a skilled photographer it will make you feel like you are.
You can get creative and consider making holiday cards starring your dog (and the rest of your family). There are many companies that make holiday themed clothes, collars, bandannas, and even pajamas that you can match with your pup. If it starts getting cold in September or October where you live, you can even choose to do multiple shoots for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah or Christmas.
As fall and winter rapidly approach we hope these ideas help you and your pup have some fun and pass the time safely. No matter what you do, even if you decide to do nothing, your pup will be happy to spend some extra time with you. Feel free to skip these tips and spend your days enjoying Netflix and the couch! No judgement here!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.