There Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues?
Rubbish! When it’s too hot and muggy to spend much time outside, there are plenty of indoor dog activities that you and your canine friends can do in the comfort of your home.
Train Your Dog
Spend a little time here and there throughout the day to exercise your dog’s mind. While it is very beneficial to work on teaching your dog good manners, it’s also great to do fun and silly tricks. Here at My Fantastic Friend, we advocate for force-free training that is positive and fun for you and your dog! Think of training like an enjoyable game that you and your dog can play together. You can embed some exercise into your indoor dog activities too, such as with recalls (coming when called) with your dog running from one side of the house to the other. Not sure how to get started with dog training? Then sign up for one of our dog training classes or private training sessions!
Interactive Puzzles and Treat Dispensing Toys
Puzzles also work your dog’s mind and provide some mental exercise. They can really help to stave off boredom, giving you a wealth of options for indoor dog activities. We are fans of the puzzles by Nina Ottosson. Some of our favorites by Nina Ottosson are the Dog Tornado, the Dog Twister, the Dog Finder and the Dog Treat Maze. We also love some of the puzzles and toys made by other companies, including the Kong Wobbler, the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball, the Bob-a-Lot, the IQ Treat Ball, the Buster Food Cube, the Buster Food Ball, the JW Treat Tower, and the Planet Dog Orbee Tuff Snoop with the Orbee Tuff Nook plugging up the hole. There are puzzles for cats, too!
Puzzles and toys come in a range of difficulty levels. Start off with something a little easier, and help your dog learn how to use the toy — most of them come with instructions. Some of the puzzles and toys are adjustable. You can start your pup out on an easier version until he gets the hang of it, and then increase the difficulty. To maximize mental exercise, you can even feed all of your dog’s meals through training or interactive puzzle toys. These are also great to slow down those super-speedy, meal-gobbling dogs. (Or when you just need to keep your dogs occupied, buying yourself a little more time to finish writing your latest blog post!)
Prefer the DIY approach? Make your own interactive toys. Take the cap off and/or punch some holes into a clean plastic milk jug or plastic bottle, pop in some treats or kibble, and let your dog roll it around in order to get the food to fall out. Take a muffin tin, put a treat or kibble piece into each cup, and then place a tennis ball over each cup. Your dog will learn to remove the tennis balls in order to get to the food. Put food into paper towel or toilet paper tubes — I prefer those without glue, because who wants their dog to eat glue?!? — and crimp the edges, or scatter food inside of cardboard boxes that you place around the house. If your dog likes to ingest cardboard and paper, you should probably skip those games!
Another option…the shell game. Get three opaque cups and place a treat under one of them. Your dog will nose and paw at the cups until the treat is found. You can make it more challenging, once she gets the hang of it, by moving the cups around.
Hide and Seek
This is one of my dogs’ favorite games! They wait in one room while I go to another and hide, and then I’ll say “Puppies! Find me!” They race into the room and search around until they find me. This usually results in a burst of excited bounding around the room, until I say “wait” and head off to another hiding spot. It’s really amazing how much they love this game!
Icy Treats for Pups
Another way to add some interest and refreshment to your dog’s day is to make frozen treats for your dog. The Classic Kong is a versatile toy. A nice summertime use is to stuff it with food and freeze it. Need some ideas to get started?
Pop something really tasty into the bottom of the kong. I often use a small chunk of stinky canned food. Mix up some nonfat Greek yogurt with something tasty, like leftover crumbs from treat bags or a dollop of peanut butter. Remember to check that your PB does not contain Xylitol, a very toxic substance for dogs. Use a butter knife to spread a thick layer around the interior of the kong, about ½ inch thick depending on the size of the kong. Insert another tasty treat into center of the kong, such as a crunchy biscuit, a cheese cube, or some fruit. Stick it in the freezer and voila, a delicious frosty treat for your hot dog!
Here’s another idea. Use a small, soft treat to plug up the small hole on the bottom of the kong. Insert some tasty food, like your dog’s kibble, veggies, or fruit. Pour broth — look for unsalted or low-salt broth — into the kong until it covers all of the goodies. I like to add another treat to the top, like a chunk of canned food or cheese. Freeze and serve.
For a smaller frozen goodie, you can do something similar with broth and ice cube trays. Stick a piece of cheese, liver or fruit into the tray and then cover it with broth. I also make frozen cubes of plain canned pumpkin.
Hope this gives you some new ideas for indoor dog activities. Have some summertime fun with your pooch, even when it’s hot and sticky outside!
(See our previous post about chews.)