Every dog has its own exercise needs, which can easily be met with regular walks outside. But every dog has different needs, and some dogs just have a lot more energy to waste than others do. Plus, there are days when it’s not recommended to take your dog outside, like when the temperature is too high or too low.
Dogs that don’t get their daily dose of physical and mental stimulation can get into all sorts of mischief and trouble. So what then can you do to prevent this?
As a dog owner, one of your responsibilities is to provide an acceptable or pleasant outlet for your pooch’s energy, especially when your furry friend is cooped indoors. That said, here are a few simple ways to help keep Fido busy and happy while staying at home.
Give Your Dog a Stuffed Kong
Toys are a must when you’re raising a dog. And when it comes to toys, the Kong Classic is a favorite among pets and pet owners. For pet owners, it’s due to the durability and simple yet ingenious design, and dogs just love toys, especially those with treats inside.
Stuff some peanut butter or healthy treat inside the Kong Classic, and give it to your pooch. That will keep him occupied for some time, and he’ll be too busy to even think about eating your couch.
Let Your Dog Chew on a Bully Stick
Made from 100 percent bull muscle, bully sticks are safe, healthy treats for pooches of all ages. Unlike rawhide, bully sticks are completely digestible and won’t harm your pooch’s digestive system, but like rawhide, the sticks are fun for dogs to chew on and delicious too because of their natural beefy flavor. Plus, chewing on one helps clean dogs’ teeth and freshen their breath.
If you’re too busy or tired to play with Fido, you can do a few rounds of tricks then give him a bully stick to chew on. It’s guaranteed to keep him happily busy for some time. Make sure to keep your eye on him, though, as there’s a chance that he can choke on the treat if he breaks off a big chunk and accidentally (or purposely) swallows it.
Keep Fido Mentally Stimulated with a Puzzle Toy
Certain dog breeds need more mental stimulation and exercise than others do, and they’re guaranteed to bore easily then get destructive if you don’t give them something more complex and challenging to do. Interactive toys, like puzzles, are perfect for keeping these types of dogs busy and happy.
A puzzle provides both challenge and immediate reward. The puzzle gives them the necessary mental stimulation while the treat motivates them to use their brain to try to solve it. By the time your doggies solve everything, they will be too stuffed and satisfied to do anything else, well, until a few hours (or minutes) later.
Brush Up on Your Dog’s Training
You can never go wrong with more training. Dogs love to test their human’s boundaries, and they have short memories and shorter attention spans. That’s why it’s good to reinforce their training from time to time. Since you’re both stuck indoors, take this chance to brush up on your pooch’s training.
Prepare treats and other rewards to training time more fun and satisfying for your dog. Once everything’s ready, you can start by going through all the basic commands every dog should know, like “Sit,” “Stay,” down,” and “Come,” then move on to the more difficult tricks, like “Shake,” “Bark,” “Roll over,” and “Play dead.”
The purpose of retraining isn’t just to reinforce learned behaviors but also to spend more time with your dogs and bond with them.
Teach Your Dog Some New Tricks
YouTube has countless training tutorials for different commands and tricks from dog training experts and other dog owners, and you can learn these and teach your dog. Since you’re indoors, why not go through them with your pooch? With the help of treats and positive reinforcement, learning some new tricks can be very fun and enjoyable for Fido.
Keep in mind that every dog has a different learning pace. Some are just slower or faster than the others, so be patient with your dogs if they take longer to learn, and praise them for their effort and enthusiasm. Training should be fun for both you and Fido. If you’re both not enjoying it, then you may have to rethink a few things.
Play Indoor Fetch
If you can’t take your dog outdoors, then take the outdoor activity indoors. With a little space and a toy, you can play a good ol’ game of fetch with your pooch inside the house.
To play indoor fetch, use a toy that won’t break anything else inside the house, something like a soft ball or a stuffed toy. Then, find a place a room or place where there’s little obstruction and your dog can run freely to and fro.
You play indoor fetch in the hallway of your house, in the living room, or inside your room. This is easier if your pooch is a small-breed dog. For big breeds, you need to be more careful that they don’t knock down stuff while they’re excitedly running after the toy. After a few (or fifty) rounds, your pooches will have gotten all the exercise they need.
Exercise with Your Pooch
Humans and dogs need regular exercise to be healthy, so why not exercise together? There are lots of exercises you and your pooch can do indoors. Fido may not be able to do yoga with you, but he can certainly run laps inside the house, do some stretching activities, and just simply move around to use up his energy. If nothing else, your pooch can help add some weight when you’re doing pushups or give you kisses for motivation.
If this is new territory to you, watch a few human-and-dog-exercise videos on YouTube to get an idea of the exercise you can do with Fido and how you can go about teaching them.
A favorite game of dogs, tug-of-war is the perfect combination of fun and exercise for pooches. Dogs love to use their mouth to do a lot of things, and playing tug-of-war is definitely on top of the list of those things.
Use a rope toy to play tug-of-war with your pooch, but never use your clothes or anything else that’s not a toy to play with them. If you do that, your dog may think that your clothes or other items that seem similar are all toys and chew on them or use these things to play tug-of-war with you.
It’s not recommended to play tug-of-war with puppies, especially when they’re teething. The pulling force can harm their teeth and gums and may obstruct the development of new teeth.
Leave a Show On for Your Pooch
If your pooch loves a good show, then you don’t have wrack your brains to keep them entertained. Just leave the TV on for them, and play their favorite shows. By now, you must have seen so many videos of dogs reacting to things they see and hear on the TV, so you know they can truly get into it.
Like people, domestic dogs can see images on television in the same way, except they can see faster and have limited color vision. They can recognize other dogs, humans, and other animals and identify dog sounds, like barking, howling, and whimpering, on TV.
But with their ability to see faster, old television sets with fewer frames per second may look like flickering images to them. But there are actually shows made for dogs, and these videos are made with more frames. You can check your cable service for these channels or find free dog-friendly videos on YouTube.
If your dogs are one of those guys, take advantage, and keep them occupied with a good show.
Give Your Dog a Job around the House
Dogs love to please their humans. If you’re lucky to have an eager pooch, you need to give it opportunities to help before it takes things into its own paws to “help” you out. Train your dog to do simple chores, like getting the newspaper or mail (without chewing on it), picking up items, and holding things to help you.
Dogs are very smart, and they can learn useful tricks with proper training. Just take a look at this helpful dog, who wakes up his human in the morning, puts on the music, turns on the coffee machine, helps prepare his human’s breakfast, and helps clean the house for his human.
Imagine your dogs being this helpful and busy. They won’t have the time or energy to chew on your furniture or destroy stuff around the house with so many chores to do!
Have Fun with Fido!
Staying cooped indoors doesn’t have to be mind-numbing torture for Fido. There are a lot of fun activities that your dogs can do (with you or by themselves) to keep busy and out of trouble. Training, games, chores, and toys—these are all things and activities that can give your pooches the mental stimulation and exercise they need to become healthy and happy dogs. And it’s your duty as a dog owner to provide them with everything they need to grow to be the best dogs they can.