Inevitably, there will be days where you have to shorten your walks or you might not even be able to make it out of the house. The weather may be terrible, you may be caught up with work, or maybe dog-walkers aren’t available. If your dog is used to getting a lot of time outside, they would most likely have a lot of extra energy on these indoor days, which is definitely the case with Emma. So today we’ll be sharing our 3 best indoor activities that help burn that extra energy while strengthening our bond Emma.
We never miss an opportunity to train, but not all of our training sessions are structured sessions. Sometimes we work on conditioning as we’re playing games, and other times we might work on food refusal and “leave its” during her meal, but regardless of the type of training session we conduct, we encourage Emma to think, communicate and engage with us as frequently as possible.
Training requires a lot of focus, keeping your dog mentally stimulated which in turn can help burn the excess energy. We talk about our approach to training in our last blog post, but to reiterate, training should not be something that both the owners and the dogs dread. Dogs should be eager to learn, and this happens when you set them up for success, by speaking clearly to them, by rewarding them heavily when they perform the action you’re looking for, and by ending all training sessions on a positive note.
Some of the commands we work on are:
- HEEL, by pacing up and down our apartment
- LEAVE IT, by placing treats around the apartment and having her heel with us as we pass by said treats
- GIVE IT TO MOM/DAD, by having her hold and bring an object to the relevant person
- DROP IT, by playing tug with a toy and asking her to release it
We also work on training that are not command-based, such as getting her used to the nail clippers or working on overcoming some of her fears, like suitcases and skateboards. Working on these things in a controlled environment with minimal distractions can help build confidence, and prepare your dogs for when these situations take place in real life.
Capture The Toy
One of Emma’s favourite games to play, and as the name suggests, it’s a simple race between us and Emma to get to the toy first. We set her up with a “place” or “heel” command, have her “stay” as we toss a toy across the room, and give her a “ready, set, go” to kick off the race. We’ve been able to assign the command “game” to this activity, so whenever we call out “game”, Emma is now able to set herself up to “place” or “heel”, then waits for my “ready, set, go”.
This game provides Emma with both mental stimulation and physical exercise and seems to burn her energy off the most. This “game” command requires her to stay focused and listen for my “go” before she can launch into a run, and we try to make this more challenging by changing the speed of the “ready, set, go”, or pretending to take a step forward to fake a head start. Once we start running, it’s all physical exercise from there; she races to capture the toy, she has me chase her, and then we play tug with the toy that she’s captured. We might even turn this into another training conditioning exercise where we work on her releasing the toy regardless of how excited she might be with the “drop it” command. Emma’s usually down for a nap after about 20 minutes of Capture the Flag, and truth be told, so are we.
When we’re caught up with work and don’t have the opportunity to directly engage with Emma, puzzle toys (or any other mental stimulation toys) are our go-to. There are a million different types of toys, but the concept behind most of them is the same: there are movable pieces to the toys where you’re able to hide treats and this engages their foraging skills as they try to find the reward that you’ve hidden. These toys are incredibly interactive, as these moving pieces might slide, turn, bend, or even be removed, so your dog may be at it for a good 30 to 40 minutes at a time.
For us, we use a pretty simple puzzle toy – a chewable hallow ball, where we can fit a large treat or one of her favourite toys inside. It takes a lot of bending and stretching to get to the inside of the ball and keeps Emma at it for a good 30 minutes. We often find her sleeping next to an empty when we come out of meetings.
Let us know what sort of indoor activities work best with you and your dog!