Winter can often mean a stir-crazy dog… or in my case, three of them. Here are some indoor games for your dog and most of these are free! Each game is great to give your dog mental stimulation too. A tired brain is a happy one!
1. Find it with Cups
What you need: three of your dog’s favorite smelly treats and 4-8 plastic or paper cups
Place the treats under three different cups and line all the cups up, mixing them up in the line. Have your dog sit and when you are ready invite them to find the treats under the cups! They will sniff them out and let you know when they’ve found one! I take out the empty cups they turn over throughout the game so they can eliminate the cups as they go.
2. Turn off the Lights
What you need: a smelly, sticky treat of your dogs choice, light switch, blanket and painters tape to protect the walls.
We used a blanket and painters tape to keep our walls free of scratch marks before we started. You are teaching your dog a new trick with this! If they are tall enough to reach the light switch, this works great! I used mashed banana pieces to invite Izzy to jump up and realize clicking the light switch down was a good idea! I used the word ‘lights’ and pointed at the light switch and she would go to get the banana, and the light switch turns off. Eventually, you invite them up using your keyword with no treat. Once they get the light off, you give them a treat after.
3. Leave it – Treats on Paws
What you need: Your dog’s favorite smelly treats
This is quite the brain and patience game! You will use the down command, stay and then leave it. It takes some practice and repeating until your dog fully realizes what you are doing. Once you get the treats on their paws (we worked up to this slowly) then you ask your dog to ‘leave it,’ pause for a bit and then let them have the treats!
4. Hide & Seek
What you need: yourself, smelly treats and some hiding places in the house!
We all know the game of hide and seek and with dogs, it is no different. Go hide and then call their name excitedly to see if they can find you. Reward them with their favorite treat for finding you!
5. Scavenger Hunt
What you need: their favorite toys or larger treats
Our dogs are obsessed with brand new tennis balls. They go wild for a freshly opened package of tennis balls. So, I opened a package of tennis balls and hid them around the main floor of our house. I hid three so each of the dogs could focus on finding one. You have to put your dogs in a separate room or level of your house while you hide them. I kept the scent of the fresh tennis balls on my hands, so when I let them up from the basement, I let them smell my hands and then said: “go find it!”. They were sniffing around like crazy, and each found one! Then they got to enjoy their new tennis balls 🙂