Let’s talk about crazy dogs, shall we?
You guys know me, so you know I say “crazy” with tremendous love in my heart.
I’m talking about dogs like Cooper: high-energy dogs, smart dogs, creative dogs who come up with their owns methods of entertainment when they’re under-exercised or under-stimulated…
Cooper runs. A lot. He does slow neighborhood wogs (walk + jog) with me, and he does long marathon-training runs with John. Yet… he wallops the cats, skitters around the furniture, barks his face off out the window, goes bonkers with his toys, and so on IF we skip a day.
And, honestly, sometimes we have to skip a day because, well, life.
Keeping a high-energy dog busy can be a real challenge, and it becomes even more difficult in cold, rainy, or snowy days when you just can’t get outside. With that season around the corner (OK, actually, it should be here… it’s December… why is it 60? #thanksclimatechange), I’ve revisited some past posts about indoor activities and thought it was time for a refresh.
When the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor fun, here are five DIY enrichment ideas you and your dog can do… indoors… to help keep that energy at bay!
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Muffin tin game
Fill the slots of a muffin tin with treats or your dog’s kibble. Place a tennis ball on top of the treats in each slot. Hint: Some active pups quickly learn to tip over the whole tray. If that happens–and you don’t want to clean up the mess each time–try the next game instead.
Paper towel tube puzzle
Stuff a treat in an empty paper towel tube. Crimp down the ends to trap the treat. Let your dog tear, shred, and pounce on the tube to get the treat. Hint: This one is great for cats, too.
Will work for food
Change the way you feed your dog breakfast. Engage his mind first thing in the morning! Rather than plunk it down in a bowl, make him work. If you have time, offer him one bite at a time in exchange for behaviors like sit or high five. If you don’t have time, divide the food among five or six bowls, and hide them around the house before you leave for work in the morning.
Dogs love to use their noses. Hide treats around the house, first in obvious places, then with increasing difficulty. Make mealtime a job by combining it with nose work; hide your dog’s dinner around the house, and let him hunt his meal (kind of like above but without the caches in bowls… spread the pieces wayyyyy further). Or, use a snuffle mat like the Wooly pictured above!
Get your dog thinking by running obedience cues around the house. Have him wait in one room, then call him from another. Practice sits and downs on the bed or work on long stays with distractions. Reward along the way! For dogs who need to blow off extra steam, run the drills up and down the stairs. One family member sits at the top and calls your pup. Ask for a basic cue, like sit, then another family member at the bottom calls and asks for another cue. The physical activity of running stairs, combined with the mental activity of obedience tires out even the rowdiest hound.
Remember, if you’re new at these types of games, your dog will need a little guidance and support at first. Help your pup as needed, and give lots of praise (and treats!) to encourage his efforts.
I had this awesome idea for tonight while Violet gets her bath–we’re going to combine two for an epic wear-out session: While I’m bathing her upstairs and John’s cooking dinner downstairs, we’re going to feed him his dinner by having him do obedience rally back and forth between us in exchange for bits of kibble. My guess? He’ll be asleep before Violet tonight!
If you have a high-energy dog, how do you wear him out? What tips and tricks can you share? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
For another 20 ideas, check out these two posts: