Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Indoor Activities To Entertain Your Dog Through Winter!

Now that it’s colder, the days are shorter, and the weather is (hopefully) getting wetter, it isn’t always as easy to take your dog out for all the exercise and activity it needs. If you’ve got a very active or young dog, this can be a big challenge. We’ve rounded up some ideas to keep your dog exercised and entertained while you keep your sanity!

The Usual Suspects: Tug and keep-away are games most of you probably play with your dogs. These can easily take place indoors and provide an outlet for all that energy as long as you play safely!

New Tricks: Most people know that teaching your dog new tricks is a great way to keep them entertained while bonding with them. But, you can add a more physical aspect to trick training by teaching them tricks like balancing on their hind legs, climbing over a bench, crawling through some chairs, or my favorite: helping you clean up their toys! These tricks will do more to tire them out physically, and can add a lot to their repertoire. We frequently offer tricks and special skills classes right here at Berkeley Humane!

DIY Treat Puzzles: Mental exercise is just as important for our pups as physical exercise, and treat puzzles can get expensive. You can easily make these with cardboard boxes or plastic water bottles and some tape! You can make them as complicated or as simple as you like (by putting a box inside of a box, using packing tape instead of scotch tape, etc…). You can fill these with any sort of treat your dog enjoys.

Nosework/Scent Games: You can use your dog's powerful nose and desire for food to activate his brain and body to search around your home for treats. You can start by playing the “Which Hand” game, which essentially is just holding a treat in one hand and letting your dog figure out which hand is holding the treat. There are many resources online for getting started: here’s an example of what nosework can look like! This game can be more mental than physical, but mental stimulation is just as important for many dogs as physical exercise. At Berkeley Humane, our certified professional trainer offers real scent work classes! Check out our Introduction to Nosework and Introduction to Odor training classes.

Flirt Pole: These are essentially giant cat toys for dogs! You can order one of these online or make one yourself - just don’t use elastic for the rope part; it can snap back and really hurt. These work great to tire dogs out and you can replace the toy on the end over and over with whatever you want.

Hide and Go Seek: You can hide yourself somewhere in your house and once you release your dog from a wait cue, it will come find you! If your dog is having some trouble, it can help to have some tasty high value treats hidden away in your pocket to get them started. After about 20-30 minutes of this, my high-energy young cattle dog is usually content to gnaw on some bones and relax. You can also do this with your dogs favorite toys!

Stairway Games: This is an option for adult dogs with a lot of energy that have stopped growing and developing in their joints and bones. If you’ve got some stairs inside and your dog is in good enough shape, you can incorporate them into a lot of other indoor activities. Playing fetch on the stairs and teaching them tricks that involve going up and down stairs is a great way to tire our your pup! For the least impact on their joints and better safety, you should start at the bottom of the steps. Don’t rush your dog as they come down the steps, as this could cause a fall or injury.

Take a Class: We offer a variety of classes here that will pep up your skills and get that puppy working! From nose work and performance tricks, to rally obedience and leash manners, there truly is something for everyone! Check out a full list of all our classes at to winterize your dog.


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