Quarantined? Indoor “Fun” Mental Exercising for Both You & Your Dog!
While you may be quarantined or self-isolating during the CoronaVirus, COVID-19, pandemic, it’s still important for everyone to continue to exercise your dogs. Here’s some fun tips on how to do it indoors.
Aside from doing laps around the dining table, there isn’t a lot of vigorous physical exercise that can be done inside the average house. Still, being stuck indoors doesn’t have to be a drag!
Have you ever noticed your dog is quite energetic after a brisk walk but completely zonked out after a short training session? That’s because just 10-15 minutes of mental stimulation, an activity requiring your dog to concentrate and really process information, is about as physically exhausting as a half hour of moderate exercise like walking or playing.
So while stuck inside together try exercising their brain!
- OBEDIENCE AND TRICK TRAINING:
In addition to teaching your dog basic obedience skills, like sit, down, and come, take this extra time to work on some advanced cues, like stay and speak.
Once you’ve mastered those, start working on some cool new tricks, like roll over, sit pretty, or high-five. Not only will you strengthen your bond and communication skills with your dog, you’ll have some great fun showing off what you’ve taught – and your dog will LOVE being rewarded for learning new behaviors.
TIP: Keep sessions short – about 15 to 20 minutes – and always end on a positive note. If your dog hasn’t quite grasped the latest trick or cue, go back to one they know well and end your session on a successful note. \This will keep them excited for training and looking forward to the next session.
- BRAIN GAMES AND DOG PUZZLES
Did you know there are tons of puzzles and games especially for dogs? From simple treat dispensing toys that require interaction by your pup, to elaborate puzzle games that force your dog to problem solve?
Dog puzzles are an excellent way to exercise your dog indoors! (research has shown that just a few minutes of mental exercise is far more exhausting to your dog than that same amount of time spent doing something physical!)
Tip: Remember to start off with simple puzzles and let your dog master those before stepping up to tthey more difficult, advanced puzzles – you don’t want your dog to get frustrated and lose interest!
- SCENT GAMES AND HIDE ‘N SEEK
Scent games and hide and seek are excellent indoor activities that not only expend energy, but build confidence as well!
With your dog watching you, toss a few small, soft and meaty dog treats onto the floor. As your dog runs to eat the treat say “go find it!”
After a few tosses, start placing the treats inside boxes, in corners, or on low shelves (nothing above your dog’s nose level) and always use the “go find it” verbal cue in concert with their going to look for it.
Escalating ‘Hide & Seek”….Once they’ve got the hang of it, try putting your dog in another room while you hide treats. At first, use the same locations that you’ve already put treats to guarantee success for them. Then change up where you hide the treat and watch them increase their focus, time and need to find and be rewarded with a treat. . If your dog has trouble finding your hides, either stand in the vicinity & encourage them towards it or toss some additional treats in that direction to give him a boost. Eventually his nose will take over and lead them to the hidden treats on his own.
TIP: If treats don’t excite your dog, scent games and hide and seek can also be played with a favorite toy ~ the most successful tool [favorite toy] in training our top Search & Rescue dog candidates
A good game of tug doesn’t take up a lot of room, but it DOES use up a lot of physical energy! Look for tug toys that are durable enough to stand up to pulling and long enough that you can safely hold onto one while your dog pulls on them. But considerate & gentle on their Teeth!
**You don’t want to loosen their teeth playing this game. I’ve seen way too many people play dangerous tug-o-war without any consideration the toll it has on the dog’s teeth. You must let go soon and often, let them win’, ….when the tugging feels way too strenuous for their canines. Let go and start over/repeat. One long, constant ‘pull’/tug can be super detrimental to their teeth & a costly Vet bill down the road!
Tip: Be careful not to create too much force on your dog’s teeth.
NEVER let them ‘hang’ with all 4 feet off the ground/floor while gripping a toy: way too hard on their teeth. Be gentle with the tug-o-war game: compare their grip on a toy, using only their teeth, as if it were you playing tug-o-war with your teeth only & how much ‘pull’ you could withstand without hurting your teeth.
- BUILD AN INDOOR OBSTACLE/AGILITY COURSE
How about creating an indoor fun ‘agility’ course? Look for tunnels that pop up [Amazon] but can be flattened to store in a closet or under a bed. How about a free-standing weave poles that don’t need to be anchored into the ground.
Of course, you can always build your own indoor obstacle course using chairs, tables, and couch cushions! Have fun getting on all fours and doing the course yourself, along with your dog – they’ll love it!
YouTube Videos will give you lots of creative ideas.
You see, being stuck inside doesn’t have to mean your dog will be bored or won’t get any exercise. With these fun boredom busters, you might even start looking forward to it!