Exercise and exercise are particularly important for dogs – but experienced dog owners know that the four-legged friend also has to be cognitively busy. We’ll show you six fun indoor play ideas that will keep your dog mentally on their toes.
Your dog must also be able to be kept busy within your own four walls. Of course, home games will never replace daily walks, but it is important that your dog is allowed to express himself cognitively. The particularly clever animals love intelligence games – they are not only suitable for every dog of all ages, but also strengthen the bond between two and four-legged friends. Plus, playing indoors is a welcome pastime, especially on rainy days. Give your dog a little brain teaser with these six fun home play ideas!
1. Unboxing is a fun indoor game
Just like us humans, dogs are also happy to be able to unwrap a small gift. To do this, wrap food or a toy in kitchen roll and place it in a box. You can adjust the level of difficulty: the better the “gift” is wrapped, the more effort your dog has to put in.
This is where your dog’s creativity is required: he has to find a way to get his beloved toy or treats – he will rummage around vigorously and test his dexterity. But beware! Never leave your dog unattended and make sure he doesn’t swallow any of the packaging material.
2. Spotting game: Nose work is also challenging indoors
The dog’s nose can also be trained. Let your dog settle down. Then draw his attention to an object in your hand, such as a stuffed animal or a sock. Place it within sight of the dog while your dog remains seated. Your four-legged friend is only allowed to search for you if you give him the command.
Alternatively, you can also put treats in a box with scented holes and let your four-legged friend search for them. Of course, this also works with mere treats. The exercise has many benefits:
By waiting for your announcement, the dog gains impulse control.
Your four-legged friend can learn to rely solely on his nose and use his unique sense of smell in a targeted manner.
When the dog is a little more practiced, it is no longer allowed to watch where the treat or toy is hidden. So-called sniffing carpets, in which pieces of food can be hidden, are also particularly popular for search games.
But please make sure not to overwhelm your dog: nose work is quickly exhausting for dogs. Five minutes is enough for the beginning.
3. Mini course in the living room provides action
If you want something a little more action-packed, you can turn your living room into a mini course in no time at all: Build a tunnel by placing several chairs in a row. Make sure that the chair height is not too low for your dog. An obstacle is quickly assembled from two buckets and a broomstick.
It is also possible to set up cones to let your dog slalom through them. Or: Form a circle with your arms and let your dog (if he is the right size) jump through it. The possibilities are almost limitless! Just make sure that the dog still has enough freedom of movement despite the obstacles and is not overwhelmed.
4. Retrieving is also great fun at home
Teaching your dog to fetch or developing his existing skills even further can be a lot of fun for you and your four-legged friend. For example, roll a ball away from you, but wait a short while before allowing your dog to get the ball. Your dog’s impulse control can also be trained here.
5. Teaching tricks is a great indoor activity
In order to keep your dog mentally busy, it makes sense to teach him various commands. Ideally, use the time together at home to consolidate basic commands you already know.
But if you feel like trying something new, you can get your dog to tidy up toys: put a toy on the floor and get your dog to bring it to you. You yourself are now sitting next to a box in which the toy is to be placed. Hold your hand over the container and have the toy placed in your hand first. As the training progresses, pull your hand away – this is how the dog learns to put the toy in the box.
6. The classic: tugging games for the dog
Tug games offer an excellent opportunity for your dog to discharge excess energy at home. Special tugging toys or a towel are particularly suitable for this. Make sure the item is durable and will not snap suddenly. In addition, there must not be any buttons on the fabric – they could get down the dog’s throat.
Also note: Tug games are only suitable for dogs that do not react aggressively – your decision to stop the game must be accepted. Your dog must not defend its prey. Once the relationship between man and dog has been clarified, nothing stands in the way of having fun together.
5 golden rules for indoor dog play
When playing indoor games, you should always pay attention to these 5 golden rules:
1. Regular head exercises are important
Make sure that your dog is always able to engage in cognitive exertion. If he does not have the opportunity to do so, this can have serious consequences:
He finds an occupation for himself, such as chewing up pieces of furniture.
If a dog is constantly bored, it may even become ill.
So make sure that your dog is not only physically but also mentally busy.
2. Head games are not a substitute for clearance
It is important that your dog is allowed to express its intelligence and put it to the test. However, joint games for home are in no way a substitute for the daily exercise! It is important that your dog gets enough exercise – this can never only be offered indoors.
3. Stay in control
You decide when and how often to play. When the game is over, you need to keep your chin up even if your dog asks for more. Of course you should spend enough time with your four-legged friend, but your dog has to learn that you decide when it’s over.
4. The right measure is crucial
Dogs love intelligence games – but don’t overdo it. Do not set any fixed times for this either, otherwise the dog could be excited about the game and at some point specifically request it. The golden mean is important here: keep your dog busy, but without overtaxing it.
5. Schedule rest breaks
Like us humans, dogs can only concentrate for a certain amount of time. Pay attention to your dog: how does he react to certain games? If he is overwhelmed, this is noticeable, for example, by scratching himself, licking his mouth frequently or being restless. If your dog yawns a lot and doesn’t really want to participate anymore, you should end playtime for today.