Indoor activities for your outdoor energy dog
You see him staring at you with those eyes as he sits impatiently by the door with his leash in mouth. A quick glance outside and you notice ominous rainclouds and let’s be frank, you’re just not up for dealing with soggy socks right now.
You also know that when Charlie doesn’t get properly exercised, he has a tendency to discover some “fun” for himself. This usually includes, but is not limited to, activities such as dragging trash around the house and shredding your daughter’s favorite teddy bear.
No worries, Porch Potty has solutions that will give Charlie all the mental stimuli he needs for days when you just can’t get out no matter the reason.
Work-to-eat toys. You may have heard the phrase “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Now I can’t speak for certain about men and hearts and stomachs, but I do know “One way to get your dog’s attention is by food.” There are tons of products on the market where you can put his meal inside and he has to solve a puzzle, move it a certain way, etc to release his dinner bit by bit.
Find your treat! A fun game that can be played a multitude of ways.
One way is to grab several cups and turn them upside down. Place a treat under one and shuffle them around then tell Charlie, “Find the treat!”
Once he’s mastered the cups, turn it into a game where the whole house is fair play. Hide the treat where he can easily get to it at first. Tell him “Find the treat,” and watch him gobble it up with a smug grin.
As Charlie gets quicker, increase the difficulty slowly by hiding the treat in progressively harder places. The key is to keep Charlie engaged and challenged.
- Tug-of-war. Hmmm. Did you just make a face? Ah. You might be one of the people that heard that tug-of-war causes your dog to be aggressive or dominant. The fact is, tug-of-war doesn’t cause aggression or dominance, but it can encourage aggressive or undesirable dominant behaviors that already exist.
The game, when played properly, gives most dogs a healthy dose of confidence.
The rules are simple: it’s a game that the two of you play only when you initiate it. That means hide your prescribed tug-of-war toy, and refuse to play with any other toy no matter how many times Charlie drops one on your lap.
Also, teeth touching your hand even slightly is an immediate end to the game, no ifs ands or buts.
Notice that I said it’s a great game for most dogs. If your dog already has a problem with aggression and dominance, it’s best to skip this game and find another. A certified animal behaviorist can help you come up with activities that are appropriate for your dog.
Free shaping. Free shaping is a terrific mental workout that is fun for dogs!
Pick a particular action that you want your dog to do, for example: sit in a box.
Don’t tell Charlie to sit in the box, you allow him to figure that out for himself by encouraging small steps to get there.
It would look something like this: Place the box on the ground. Out of curiosity, Charlie sniffs at it. Praise and treat. After several rounds of him getting faster at sniffing the box, you up the ante.
Again, without giving him any kind of clues, you now want him to touch the box with his paw. He’ll fret, maybe even whine because he doesn’t understand why he isn’t getting his treat. But that’s where the magic happens. He figures it out and taps the box with his paw for treats.
Next, you’ll want him to put his paw IN the box, then two paws in the box, now he doesn’t get his treat until he climbs in the box…until at last he’s in the box and sitting.
If your dog gets stuck or is becoming distracted by other activities, back up to the previous step.
With free shaping, the possibilities are endless. You can choose actions like, grabbing a particular toy and bringing it to you, climbing up onto a stool, you just might be surprised by what a smart fella Charlie is!
Teach an old (or young) dog a new trick. Pick a fun trick to learn with your dog on days when you’re cooped up. I’m a mother and am extremely practical. My first, go-to “trick” after basic obedience is always to teach my dogs to put their toys away when I say “Clean up!” My dogs tend to learn this trick faster than my children…sigh.
Speaking of obedience…Use this time to brush up on Charlie’s basic obedience!
Our dogs can be just like children. Over time he eventually sits, or he chooses to end his stay when he feels it’s been “long enough.” We’ve compounded this by allowing him to slide and before you know it, “Sit, Down, Stay” are long forgotten.
Revisit his basic obedience, add in some fun play training, and Charlie will not only be tired after his mental workout, he’ll be a commendable canine citizen!
Activities like these keeps Charlie on his toes. You'll also notice other fantastic side effects as he gains confidence like a decrease in excessive barking or destructive behaviors.
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