Your dog’s health is in your hands. Keeping them mentally and physically stimulated on a daily basis is very important for their overall well-being. Plus, playing with your dog a few times a day lowers the chances of them developing destructive habits like excessive barking or chewing. Dogs do get bored - they’re social creatures after all!
Mixing it up and making sure your dog is busy when you’re off at work or both stuck inside for the day is a great way to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Easy-Peasy Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy in The House:
Stuff a Kong Toy
Kongs are great ways to keep your dog busy for a prolonged period and to provide them with plenty of extra mental stimulation to tucker them out. Here are a few starter ideas for some simple Kong stuffer treats:- Freeze plain yogurt inside the Kong and serve once solid.
- Freeze dog-safe peanut butter inside the Kong and serve once solid.
- Toss your dog’s kibble inside and make your dog work for the goodies inside.
- The night before work, freeze your Kong treat and serve in the morning before heading out the door.
- Put your extra leftovers to good use - use leftover chicken broth, green beans, or whatever other healthy food you have lying around. Stuff the Kong, freeze, and serve.
- Combine applesauce and blueberries in your dog’s Kong for an extra yummy treat.
Put Them to Work
Your dog is a natural scavenger and loves to work for food. In fact, working for their food is hardwired into their doggy brain - it’s normal and mentally stimulating for them.
Put your pup to work by making them work for their food. Ask your dog to perform some tricks before serving their dinner or breakfast, use a food-dispensing toy to give them rewards, kibbles, and treats, or you can even do the old “guess which hand” game (one palm is holding the treat, the other is empty, your dog has to guess which has the treat). The possibilities are endless! Let your imagination run wild.
Pups love puzzles to solve because they have to use their noggin. Even the Kong qualifies as a puzzle for your pup - it’s a treat dispenser that your dog has to figure out. You can even make your own DIY dog puzzles, like the muffin tin game, which only requires a muffin tin and some tennis balls. There are also lick mats, on which you can spread some yogurt, peanut butter, or other treat and freeze. Figure out what works best for you and your dog, and encourage your dog to sniff, lick, explore, and use their innate doggy behaviors.
Here are a few DIY ideas to play around with:- Toilet Tube Treat Dispensers
- Muffin Tin Shell Game
- Shoebox Hide and Seek
- Doggy Ball Pit
- Tea Towel Shuffle Mat
Any Dog Can Learn New Tricks
There are so many fun tricks you can teach your dog - shaking paws, rolling over, playing dead, waiting for their food, weaving through your legs, jumping through hoops, ringing bells, and even opening and closing doors. Maybe your dog already knows how to do a lot of tricks already. You can always up the ante and make those same tricks more challenging and fun for your dog.
Here’s a trick you can teach your dog to get started:
How to teach your dog to speak
What You Need:
- A handful of training treats
- A barking stimulus (a doorbell, someone knocking on the door, etc.)
What To Do:
- First, you’ll need to train your dog how to be quiet. Choose one simple word for the quiet command, like "enough," "quiet," or "hush,” and then create a situation that will cause your dog to bark.
- When your dog barks, acknowledge it, then get your dog’s attention by holding up a treat. When your dog stops barking, give them the treat.
- Repeat until your dog stays silent for long periods of time. After a few times of silence, add your cue word. While your dog is barking, say your cue word. Give the treat when your dog responds.
- Now, you can practice the “speak” command. Again, get your dog to bark naturally. As your dog barks, say “speak” in a positive tone.
- When your dog responds, give them a treat combined with lots of praise. Repeat this several times until your dog seems to really catch on to the command.
- Once your dog learns the speak and quiet commands separately, you can use them together. Have your dog speak a few times, then tell them to be quiet. Always give lots of praise afterward!
Teach Them How to Play Fetch
Just like teaching your dog how to speak, you can teach your dog how to play fetch. If you have extra space for fetch inside, this is a great option for you and your dog - hallways, stairways, and big living rooms are popular choices. We recommend using a lightweight ball or toy to avoid breaking valuables. You can also turn this game of fetch into a game of catch, depending on what you and your dog are up for at the moment.
How to teach your dog to play fetch
What You Need:
- A handful of training treats
- A variety of toy options (to see which one your pup responds best to)
What To Do:
- First, you will need to teach your dog how to “hold.” To learn more about this verbal cue command, click here. When your dog is successfully responding to the cue “hold,” you can begin to introduce the next verbal cue, “fetch.”
- After teaching “hold,” your dog should be consistently taking the toy you are offering after you say “hold.” Next, place the toy on the floor in front of your dog. Ask your dog to “hold” the toy and when they pick it up, immediately give a reward with praise.
- When your dog has been consistently successful with picking up and holding the toy, start to very slowly increase the difficulty/distance with just a few inches at a time.
- When you begin to throw the toy, give the verbal cue “fetch.” After repeating the process, your dog will eventually gain an understanding of the game and learn to retrieve the toy.
If your dog is a bit older and needs more support for mobility and liveliness, try PupGrade Joint Support Chews. PupGrade Joint Support is specially formulated for dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis, and joint disease, and designed to stimulate joint tissue regrowth and recovery.
Make A Homemade Treat
Not only will some homemade pup treats hit the spot for your pooch, but you’ll have a fresh supply of training rewards ready to go, too. Here’s a fun frozen recipe to try (which makes approximately 40 small-sized treats):
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree (plain canned pumpkin)
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 banana
- Put the banana into a blender and puree it until it is a smooth paste.
- Add the yogurt, the pumpkin puree, the banana paste, and the honey to a large bowl. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Spoon this mixture into ice cube trays. Once each mold is full, wrap the tray in plastic wrap or place it in a Ziploc bag to avoid messes.
- Place the trays in your freezer and let them sit overnight until they are solid.
- When fully frozen, take your mold out of the freezer and pop each treat out. You can save extra treats in a bag in the freezer, and use the rest as training rewards or regular treats!
What are your favorite ways to keep your dog occupied when stuck inside? Let us know! The Pupgrade community would love to hear from you.
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