Over lockdown, we all got to feel the way our dogs must feel being stuck at home all day long. If you didn't live in a house with its own bowling alley and tennis courts, life got boring very quickly. After all, how much Netflix can you really watch? Your dog gets bored too. They're intelligent, energetic creatures, and they need stimulation and interaction. You won't like the result when they don't get what they need. You may be surprised to learn that one of the main reasons for destructive behavior from your dog is boredom. Personally, I felt a little mischievous during lockdown as well - hence the birth of livingroom parkour!
Following are some ways to keep your dog entertained at home when you aren't with them.
Teach Them Scent Work
Dogs love to smell stuff - that's a fact. You can take this instinctive behavior and turn it into a game they'll love. Your dog enjoys learning about their surroundings by sniffing everything, so take dog treats and exciting household items to create scent work.
Here are a few suggestions:
- The 'Which Hand?' Game: Put a dog treat in one of your hands, close it, and let your dog sniff to figure out which hand the treat is in. Let the dog treat be their reward for choosing the correct hand.
- The Shell Game: Turn three or four cups upside down and place a treat under one of them. Let your dog sniff around the cups to find the one with the treat. When they choose correctly, give them lots of praise.
- Muffin Tin Puzzles: Put doggie treats in a couple of the muffin holes, then cover all of the holes with tennis balls. This makes a challenging 'puzzle' for your dog to work on. Let them find out where the treats are by sniffing and moving the balls out of the way.
- Box Search: Gather several cardboard boxes and put them out on the floor. Hide a few dog treats inside a couple of the boxes when your dog isn't in the room. Bring them back into the room and let them try to find the treats. Remember to praise their efforts.
Give Them a Kong Toy
Kong is a brand of rubber dog toys with a hollow area in the center that lets you put treats on the inside. Your dog has to work to get their treat out of it, which keeps them occupied for some time. The activity is intellectually and physically challenging for them.
You can put dog treats inside your kong or a spoonful of mashed banana or peanut butter. If you freeze the treat, it will extend the reward for your dog.
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Work on Their Obedience Skills
Working on their obedience skills will give them a focus for their energy. Your dog may already know the basics, but you can add more commands for when their surroundings are different. When you're out with your dog or have company, you may need to teach them additional commands.
You might even consider an obedience class for them.
Set Up an Agility Course
By now, you know how much your dog loves a challenge. So consider setting up an agility or obstacle course for them. Include boxes for them to jump over, tunnels, weave poles, an A-frame (couch seat cushions can work for this), and a seesaw. It's a great way to keep them moving and exercising.
Turn on the Radio or TV
Some dogs really love watching television or are captivated by listening to the radio. Turn the tv on to their favorite channel and leave it on while you go to work. During the day, they will enjoy stopping to watch interesting activities on the screen.
Research finds that dogs enjoy and can be calmed by classical music. So leaving your radio on a classical music channel may be beneficial in keeping your dog settled, so they don't get anxious while you're gone.
Hide Treats for Them to Find
What says love more than hidden treats? Hide your dog's favorite bites around the house and let them sniff them out all during the day. Make sure that you keep track of where you put the treats so you can gather any that were unfound to avoid drawing pests. Also, from day to day, hide the bites in varying places.
Play Tug of War
Your dog would love a game of Tug of War indoors with you. It's a physically challenging activity that will tire your dog out fast. You can also try an indoor game of fetch with a lightweight ball.
Teach Your Dog a New Trick
Think of a fun new trick to teach your dog. The time together will be bonding and enjoyable, and your dog will learn to shake their paw, retrieve a favorite toy by name, or crawl under your chair. One fantastic trick to teach your dog is putting things away. You can teach them to collect their toys one by one and put them in a box.
Related: How to Show Your Dog You Love Them
Your dog will appreciate your efforts to create an enjoyable, engaging environment at home, even when you aren't there. You'll ward off any destructive behavior and boredom and keep your pup happy when you aren't at home.
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