Staying at home for days can be hard for many, particularly if you are an outgoing person by nature with an active canine companion. But you don’t have to be bored while you shelter in place, especially if you have a dog to keep you company where both of you can keep each other entertained indoors.
Table of Contents
- 1. Teach Your Dog the Names of His Toys
- 2. Do a Full Dog Grooming Session
- 3. Teach the Dog a New Cool Trick
- 4. Play the “Which Hand” Game
- 5. Create an Indoor Dog Agility Obstacle Course
- 6. Teach Your Pet to Put His Toys Away
- 7. Play the Three Cups Game
- 8. Create a Social Media Fan Page
- 9. Play “Find the Treats”
- 10. Treat the Dog to a Pet Massage
- 11. Try Dog Yoga (Doga)
- 12. Play Indoor Catch
- 13. Take a Nap Together
- 14. Watch Dog TV or YouTube Together
- 15. Play Tug-of-War
- 16. Work On Basic or Advanced Commands
- 17. Teach Your Dog to Chase Bubbles
- 18. Play Hide and Seek
- 19. Sing to and with Your Dog
- 20. Teach the Dog to Help You with Chores
- 21. Play a Game of Tag
- 22. Use the Stairs
- 23. Get Your Dog Onto a Treadmill
- 24. Teach the Dog Scent Work
- 25. Play “Keep Away”
- 26. Try Indoor Digging Challenge
- 27. …Or Even Indoor Swimming
- 28. Play with a Flirt Pole
- 29. Play Wild Sits
- 30. Make Homemade Dog Treats
While we're all struggling through the social distancing rules of COVID-19 pandemic, being safely locked up and sheltering in place, it's time to get creative. Fortunately, there are many cool home activities you can enjoy with your dog, so here are some that will keep you and your pooch entertained and strengthen your bond.
1. Teach Your Dog the Names of His Toys
Studies have shown that dogs have intelligence of a 2 or 3 year old child, and that some dogs can learn over 200 words. You can take this free time at home to teach your dog the names of your pet's favorite dog toys.
Start with one toy by giving it a name and repeating it often to your pooch while you play together using that toy. Keep making actions and referring to that toy by a special command (for example, “Barney”). After a while, the dog will learn it and begin associate “Barney” as the name of the toy, and then you can do it with more toys or other objects.
Need more ideas and inspiration? How about a woman who is a speech pathologist and taught her dog to talk? Watch her do it and see if you can replicate it with your pet.
2. Do a Full Dog Grooming Session
Even if you are not used to grooming your dog and you prefer to leave this job to a professional groomer, in these circumstances, it may be necessary (and even fun) to do some basic grooming to ensure that your dog looks beautiful at all times.
For example, you can brush your dog’s hair daily – which can particularly be important if your pooch sheds a lot. To take steps further, check out this grooming guide and the many different tasks you can experiment with. Pet grooming can also be a positive experience that can strengthen the bond you have with your canine friend.
3. Teach the Dog a New Cool Trick
You can make things interesting and useful by teaching a dog some new tricks, and especially if your pooch doesn’t know any at all, now is the time to teach him some.
Dog tricks are not necessarily the same as basic/essential dog commands. Instead, they could be more for the fun of it for both you and the dog. There are many cool tricks and even advanced dog tricks guides you can find to implement. Prepare some treats and get practicing. Soon, your pooch will be able to impress your friends with his skills.
4. Play the “Which Hand” Game
This is a perfect game for dogs that haven’t done any nose work before. The “which hand” game is simple – just take a dog treat and put it in one hand. Then hold both of them out in a fist, towards your dog and let the dog pick the hand to find the treat.
If your pooch claws at your hands or mouths you, you should work on his basic impulse control first. This is why the game is not only fun but also beneficial in several ways: it teaches the dog impulse control and provides mental stimulation on top of nose work training.
5. Create an Indoor Dog Agility Obstacle Course
An obstacle course for dog agility training is a perfect way to keep your canine fit and train him at the same time. However, when you are stuck indoors during a shelter-in-place, you have to get creative if you want to make an obstacle course for your dog.
You can always order some generally small agility kit items to use at home; while they're meant for outdoors, nobody says you can't use them indoors if you have space. Some of our favorites to use at home are the Hurdle Cone Set or the Cheering Pet kit.
You can also go the DIY way and save money. For example, have the dog jump over towels or weave through his toys. In the end, he can lay down on a blanket. Just use your imagination and a set of obstacles that you find suitable for your dog and your home.
6. Teach Your Pet to Put His Toys Away
Now that the dog knows the names of his toys and you have attempted some agility training using them, it's time to teach your dog how to put all this stuff away. This way, you won’t have to clean after the dog – he will do it himself (and be mentally stimulated at the same time).
Start by teaching your pooch to drop a specific toy back in the box by teaching him the “Drop It” command. If it's your first time, then be patient since it can take your dog a while to understand what’s expected of him. Once you teach him to put one of his toys away, it will go easier with the others. Here's a good guide on how to do it.
7. Play the Three Cups Game
This is another game to play if your dog is a beginner when it comes to nose work. Take three cups and line them up in front of your pooch. Make sure that your dog is watching when you put a treat under one of the cups.
Once you do this, give your dog a command to show you where the treat is. If he chooses correctly, give him the treat and praise him. Your dog will soon understand what’s expected of him and you can make the game more challenging by mixing the cups.
8. Create a Social Media Fan Page
In today’s world of social media, animals can also become big stars. Take the example of the late Boo the Pomeranian who had more than 17 million fans on Facebook at one point or Doug the Pug with his almost 4 million followers on Instagram.
Start by photographing your pooch a lot and make sure that the photos are fun and interesting as well as professional looking. If you travel a lot with your dog, you can also start a travel blog for him but keep in mind that maintaining a blog is more work than a simple fan page. Social media updates are the easiest, and there are many ways you can turn your dog into a famous pooch in no time.
9. Play “Find the Treats”
Not only will your dog will have fun playing this game, but he also gets rewarded with a delicious treat at the end of it! If you haven’t played this with your pet before, start by placing treats in plain sight so he can get the idea of what he is supposed to do. Then, after you start the game easy, after a few rounds make it a bit more challenging for the dog by hiding them in harder to find places.
10. Treat the Dog to a Pet Massage
While this is another job that is often left to a professional canine masseuse, when you are sheltering in place from coronavirus with your dog, you may as well try to treat him to a dog massage since it can help relax and soothe your pooch.
Dog massages are especially great for dogs with arthritis and older dogs since they can also relieve joint pain and improve circulation, but they are also generally very pleasant to dogs. There are at least 3 ways you can massage your pooch.
It may take some time to learn how to massage your dog but once you learn it, your dog will be thankful and appreciate it. For more inspiration, here are the best dog massage videos you can find online.
11. Try Dog Yoga (Doga)
Dog yoga, or Doga, as it is popularly called, is a good way to stay active when at home. It is like regular yoga but with your dog.
Some doga instructors like to include dogs in exercises, while others just let them walk around and bond with other dogs or their owner. While they won’t be able to do this when you practice doga at home, simply spending time with your pooch while you do yoga will be a strong bonding experience.
12. Play Indoor Catch
If you live in a house with a yard, go out and play some catch with your pooch or throw a Frisbee around – none of this will break the social distancing rules. However, if you live in an apartment in the city, it doesn’t mean that you can’t play catch as well.
Playing catch indoors with dogs can be a bit tricky but you can use your hallway or stairs, especially if they are carpeted or grippy enough to prevent your pooch from slipping and sliding. Remember to remove any dangerous or fragile items out of the way first and use a soft ball to play catch.
13. Take a Nap Together
You've played games, you tried agility courses, you groomed your dog and learned some new tricks together. Now, it's time for some rest. If you ask me, napping with dogs is highly underrated, and it's one of my favorite things to do.
Taking a nap with your dog will make you both relaxed and improve your bond. After all, who doesn’t like a good sleep in the middle of the day. Moreover, you can put on a cool movie while snuggling with the dog on the couch, or better yet, get a white noise machine because dogs love falling asleep to those sounds – and so will you!
14. Watch Dog TV or YouTube Together
As George Costanza once said, “we really need to be in front of the TV.” Watching television together has been a bonding experience for humans for decades, so why wouldn’t you enjoy some quality TV content with your pooch as well? Although not all dogs will enjoy watching TV, it is worth a try, especially if it's dog-friendly content.
You can tune in to Dog TV or some other TV channel that shows movies and other programs created specifically for dogs. Another good source of dog-related content is of course YouTube where you can find numerous entertainment videos for dogs.
Some of our favorite YouTube channels for dogs (and not about dogs):
15. Play Tug-of-War
Tug-of-War is probably one of the favorite games of all dogs and the great thing about it is the fact that you don’t need a lot of space to play it. This means that it is perfect for sheltering at home. If you still need a tug-of-war toy, this rope one is the best by far.
However, you still need to ensure that no breakable or dangerous items are in your vicinity when you play Tug-of-War with dogs. Also, you will need at least a few feet of open space and your dog should know the release command before you play it.
16. Work On Basic or Advanced Commands
If you didn’t have the time to properly train your dog before and teach them some basic dog obedience commands, being stuck indoors is probably the perfect opportunity to work on this. Start with the most simple commands like “Sit”, “Stay”, “Come” and move your way up to more advanced commands.
17. Teach Your Dog to Chase Bubbles
Watching your dog chase bubbles will certainly put a huge smile on your face and make you forget that you’re stuck inside during this pandemic. In addition to being hilarious, it is also a simple way to keep your dog exercised, entertained and mentally stimulated.
You probably won’t even have to teach your dog to chase them – most dogs will just do it on their own. However, make sure that you use non-toxic ingredients to make the bubbles. Bubbletastic Bacon is by far our favorite of them all. Or, if you have bubbles for children at your home, you can use that since they are already non-toxic.
18. Play Hide and Seek
One of the most popular games to play indoors with your pooch will make both of you entertained. You already know the game, and similar to “find treats” game, you can quickly teach this to your pet.
If your dog knows how to stay, then you can play hide and seek with the dog without anyone’s help but if he doesn’t, you will need a human helper to make him sit while you hide, or spend some time teaching the “Stay” command first.
19. Sing to and with Your Dog
Do you love to sing but you don’t really have a great voice? No worries! Your dog will listen to you sing and he will be delighted the whole time. Dogs are a perfect audience for this, and some of them might even join you and partake in the chorus. So, put your favorite tune on, let yourself go and enjoy while you sing your beloved songs.
20. Teach the Dog to Help You with Chores
If you are looking for something fun and also useful to do, you can teach the dog to help with chores and get the best of both worlds. Dogs love when they have a purpose or a job to do – so give them a job.
You can teach your dog to fetch your slippers or to retrieve some other common items like the TV remote. But if you really want to impress your friends, you can teach the dog to get something from the fridge – here's a guide on how to do it.
21. Play a Game of Tag
This is another interesting interactive game for dogs and their owners, but you need another person to play it. It is a simple game that also teaches your dog some obedience. If you need inspiration for how fun the Tag game can be, just watch the Tag (2018) movie beforehand.
Basically, you and your partner should stand or sit at one side of the room with some pet treats or a dog toy. Then you take turns as you call the dog over but remember to reward the pooch when he comes to you. Rinse and repeat.
22. Use the Stairs
Unless your dog is older, arthritic or simply prone to joint issues, you can use the stairs to keep the dog in shape when you are stuck indoors and cannot exercise enough. Make sure your pup is comfortable climbing stairs first, however.
The stairs exercise idea is simple – make your dog run up and down the stairs. Better yet, do it together with the dog. It is a great exercise that will keep your dog (and yourself, if you partake) properly fit.
23. Get Your Dog Onto a Treadmill
Another great way to keep your dog exercised is to get a dog treadmill to keep your pup in shape while stuck sheltering in place. Or, if you already have your own treadmill, you can teach the dog how to use it (it's slightly different but not by much). However, training a dog for a treadmill takes some time – but isn't that what we have plenty of right now?
Here's how to do it: First, get the dog used to the treadmill when it is turned off. After he seems comfortable on it, start with a slow pace and gradually turn it up. Remember to keep an eye on your pooch as he does this and to give him treats from the front. Also, don’t leash your furry friend on the treadmill since that can lead to an accident.
24. Teach the Dog Scent Work
You may think that scent work is reserved only for Scent Hounds but that is not true. You can teach any dog how to do scent work with a bit of effort and patience. The goal is to teach your pet how to sniff out different essential oils, for example.
However, you may want to begin with simple treats before you progress to essential oils. There are plenty of guides on how to do nosework with dogs but this one is our favorite.
25. Play “Keep Away”
“Keep Away”, or “Monkey” as it is also called, is a very simple ball game for dogs and their owners, and one that your pooch will definitely enjoy. However, you need another person to participate.
Just take a ball and start throwing it to each other while your dog tries to get the ball. It is a fun game that will also keep your pooch exercised. Make sure to occasionally “let” the dog interact with the ball so that he doesn't lose interest.
26. Try Indoor Digging Challenge
If your pooch enjoys digging, there is a way to let him do so indoors as well, without making a total mess of your home. Just hide a few toys or treats inside a pile of hardy blankets and let your dog dig as much as he likes.
Another option is to buy and fill a cheap plastic children’s pool with plenty of colorful balls and let your dog dig around. You can put some treats in as well to entice your pet, although that probably won’t be necessary.
27. …Or Even Indoor Swimming
Speaking of pools, if you have a puppy or a small breed like Chihuahua or Pomeranian, you can use your bathtub to let your dog swim around. Or, if you do end up buying a small and cheap plastic indoor pool like Jasonwell then you can fill that up with water.
Alternatively, if you have a backyard or a garage, you can install a much better and proper dog swimming pool and let your pooch swim or just enjoy the bath.
28. Play with a Flirt Pole
A flirt pole is pretty much just a fishing pole for the dog. You can find pre-made flirt poles for dogs to buy which are pretty cheap (like this Outward Hound) or you can make one yourself. For a DIY dog flirt pole, you only need a stick, string and your dog’s favorite toy that will get your pup riled up and get him to chase it.
29. Play Wild Sits
This is a fun exercise and a great way to train the dog to sit in any circumstances but it may take a few tries before your dog gets the hang of it. The first step is to put your dog on a leash and then try to rile him up as much as you can. You can jump up and down or run around to get the dog excited.
When your dog becomes euphoric, instruct him to sit. If you have a hyperactive dog, it may not work so easily. However, after a few times, your pet should be able to go from being excited to sitting still on command.
30. Make Homemade Dog Treats
Finally, after all the games and work you've done, you can reward and treat yourself as well as your dog. If you like to cook and bake, you can make homemade dog treats. While the dog won’t have much to do here except eat the treats, you can be absolutely sure that he won’t complain.
You can find 200+ recipes here and try a few different batches of treats. When you make them at home, you can ensure that they are healthy and made from high-quality ingredients, and are specifically for your individual dog's unique needs.
While having to stay at home and shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic can be quite frustrating, you can make the most of it by playing different games with your dog, training and exercising, napping and watching TV and finishing a day with some home cooked treats.
Take this opportunity to spend some quality time with your furry friend and strengthen your dog. If you didn't have time before, now's your opportunity to teach the dog essential commands or even new cool tricks, keep the dog entertained and make sure that he stays in great shape, both physically and mentally.
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