It’s been a rough summer. Whether you’re stuck indoors because of quarantine, smoke or hurricanes, you’re likely feeling a bit stir crazy – and you can bet your dog’s feeling the effects too. Here’s how to exercise your dog’s mind and body without leaving the comfort of your home. (Note: These tips will work when it’s too cold to play outside during winter, too!)
- Run your dog up and down the stairs. If you have stairs in your place, this is a great option for tiring out puppies and younger dogs. We don’t necessarily recommend it for older dogs, as it can be tough on the joints.
- Participate in fun social media challenges. Your fellow dog owners have gotten creative during these strange times, and you’ll find a number of funny challenges on Instagram – like the toilet paper challenge and obstacle challenge, for example – that’ll keep your dog (and you) entertained for longer than you’d like to admit.
- Play hide and seek (with treats)! Stash dog treats in odd spots around your home, and watch your pup work overtime to catch ‘em all. Not only will this keep him running in circles – it’ll train his nose, too. You know, for the sniffing Olympics.
- Play hide and seek (with you)! Tell your dog to sit and stay in a room, then go hide. Call her name and expect to be bombarded with puppy kisses in 1-2 minutes.
- Give a dog a bone. There’s a reason dog bones are a fan favorite: in addition to making dogs super happy because #treats, chewing on bones helps clean teeth and narrows your dog’s focus. This will tire him out eventually because, as anyone who’s ever studied for anything (or worked from home) knows, concentrating is hard.
- Make time for training. Being stuck inside is a great opportunity to teach your dog something more than “sit,” like you’ve always meant to do. The mental exercise will also strengthen the bond between you and your pup, which is always a good thing.
- Invest in indoor puzzle games. Dogs get tired by using their nose and brain just as much as using their bodies, so mental stimulation is a great solution for tiring out a dog that’s wired at 10 PM (read: when you’re in the middle of a movie and low on energy). Strategy games like this activity board or treat dispensing toys can keep your dog busy – and maybe even quiet! …Maybe.
- Turn your hallway into a runway. We mean that literally – throw a toy to the end of the hall and watch your dog run that way. If you’ve got wood floors and downstairs neighbors, keep in mind this game might be noisy for them.
- Bubbles. Yep, you read that right: blowing bubbles for your dog is a great way to make him feel productive (in his head, catching one is the equivalent of crushing an 8-hour workday). It’s such a popular dog activity that someone actually invented these 100% non-toxic, bacon-flavored bubbles for Fido’s benefit. So. You’re welcome.
- Install a pet door so your dog can roam freely. Despite your best efforts to entertain in-house, sometimes a dog simply must roam outside and chew on grass or stare at the fence or bark at a cloud for a while. If you’ve got a backyard, this doesn’t have to be a supervised activity – and if you’ve got a doggie door, your dog can indulge whenever he pleases. Remember that wildfire smoke can affect dogs too, so check the air quality and limit outside time if the air is unhealthy.
Bonus tip! Take advantage of the last sunny days before temperatures drop by setting up a hose and a kiddie pool in the backyard for hours of playtime – once your pup’s all soggy, you can even take the opportunity to give him an impromptu bath. He’ll never see it coming.