If you and your dog are a little bored, we have some ideas for inside dog games you can play at home, no special “stuff” required!
Life has a way of falling into routine. For us, and our dogs. Especially since the pandemic has restricted the way we do things, it’s easy to fall into a rut. Just taking a few minutes to try a new game with your dog can bring smiles to both of you and help energize your day.
If you have more than one dog, play these games with only one dog at a time. Everybody gets a “turn,” and it’s each dog’s special time to play with you and get all the attention. None of the games take very long, and each dog loves having you to him/herself for the duration.
Inside Dog game #1: Kitchen chaos
All you need for this game is a muffin tin, tennis balls, and treats. Simple enough – put a treat or six in the bottom of each section of the muffin tin. Cover them each with a tennis ball. Put it on the floor. Let your dog have fun.
If your dog is a tennis-ball maniac, you may want to use something else to cover the treats. One of ours is, and he’d much rather run away with the ball than pursue the treats. For him, we put little paper cups over the goodies. It works for him, and when the cups are destroyed, it’s not a great loss.
Inside Dog Game #2: Sniff for it
One of the most popular and growing dog sports is scent work. In the version we know about, dogs learn to distinguish several different aromas, anise, birch, clove, and cypress. Then they find scented items that are hidden, buried, inside, outside, etc. There are lots of levels of difficulty which we’re not sure of, we haven’t really explored it completely.
But you don’t have to know all the rules of the sport to enjoy playing it. Hope thought it would be fun to teach her French Bulldog Torque to use his nose, instead of just barrelling into anything around. She also had some clove essential oil, so started there.
At first, she just put a drop of the clove oil on a cotton pad and showed it to Torque. As soon as he sniffed it instead of trying to eat it, she rewarded him. Then she had two cotton pads, only one with oil, and let him choose. When he picked the scented one, he got a reward.
Dogs learn what gets them rewarded really quickly. In almost no time, Torque was choosing the scented pad, rather than just grabbing everything in front of him.
To “step up” the game, Hope enlisted Fran to help out. While Hope had Torque with his back to the room, Fran “hid” the scented cotton pad. She was the only one who knew where it was, so she had control of the “clicker” to mark when Torque found it.
We were pretty amazed at how quickly Torque started scanning the space, his little nose sniffing a mile a minute. He loves this game and gives a Frenchie “wiggle” when we sees us reaching for the cotton pad.
Speaking of which, we keep the pad in a plastic sandwich bag between uses, and refresh with a new drop of oil on the days we play.
Inside Dog Game #3: Hide and seek
For this inside dog game you need either a very reliable “stay,” or another person. It’s easy – just grab a few treats and go hide from your dog. It’s the leaving the dog that’s the tricky bit. All of our dogs seem to follow us from room to room wherever we go. We never have to go looking for our dogs – they’re always with us.
On the other hand, a friend of ours with Shiba Inus knows where her dogs are because they have favorite spots in the house – not always with her. It’s a different dog mindset, and one we’re not accustomed to dealing with. But it would make “Hide and Seek” easier to start. The hard part would be getting her dogs motivated for the “seek” part.
With your dog on a “stay,” or being held by someone else, go “hide” from your dog. You can really hide behind something, or you can just go into another room. After a countdown from 10 (or more, if you have a lot of ground to cover), release the dog. Until your dog understands the rules of the game, you can call the dog’s name and, when he/she finds you, celebrate with lots of praise and some treats.
When your dog understands the game, you’ll no longer need to call – just release from the stay or tell the other person to say “find So-and-So!”
Play away routine
Dog games break the monotony of an ordinary day. It’s a simple, fun thing you can do with your dog. Let us know your favorite inside dog games!