Being stuck at home, for any reason, can be a bummer for both you and your pup. But even though you’re confined inside, you can still engage in meaningful activities with your dog that can stimulate them mentally and physically. So, the next time you find yourself homebound, don’t let it spoil your fun. Try out these games and activities to keep your canine companion on their toes.
Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell. Did you know that they have approximately 45 times more scent receptors than humans? And what better way to exercise that sense of smell than by making a game that uses it? All you need to do is collect a few small boxes or containers and arrange them upside down. Place a prize (like a favorite dog training treat) underneath one of them and encourage your pup to start sniffing around. When your dog accurately identifies which container the treat is under, make sure to congratulate them and, of course, reward them with the hidden treasure.
You can also use a Snuffle Mat to engage your dog’s sense of smell and curiosity. There are multiple pockets to hide treats in and different puzzles with adjustable difficulty. Help mentally stimulate your dog and work on their nose work skills!
You likely loved this game when you were a kid, so why not enjoy it with your dog? For this game to be successful, your dog will have to understand basic commands, such as sit, stay, and come. Lead them to a room and ask them to stay, then leave and hide in a different location. When you’ve found the perfect hiding place, call their name to encourage them to come find you. Celebrate the big accomplishment, once they’ve figured out where you are.
Speaking of basic commands, an obedience training session is a perfect way to stay occupied. Whether you’re working on enhancing your dog’s skills for competitions or simply making sure your dog can listen and respond to you in a positive way, this obedience-retrieving dumbbell is a great tool to use for a practice session.
Now, this is a fun exercise. While your dog is on a leash, rile them up as much as possible — you can run around cheering, jumping up and down — anything to get your pup as excited as possible. Then, mid-romp, you’ll instruct your dog to sit. This may take some practice, depending on how hyperactive your dog is, but after a few tries, your dog should be able to go from a state of excitement to sitting patiently on command.
This one’s easy because you can take advantage of common household objects and design the course to be as simple or difficult as you want. You could use broken-down boxes for your dog to crawl through, place chairs down for them to navigate through, and even stack books for him to jump over.
Training Platform and Agility System
One way to make sure that your pup is positively occupied inside is by engaging them with a training platform and agility system. This one is adjustable, easy to configure, and can be sized to your dog’s specifications. It is even waterproof and washable, and you can also use it outside.
Known in the sport of agility as weave poles, this is a training game you can play with your dog, regardless of whether or not you’re training for the competition ring. You can set up “poles” using household objects, like chairs or even friends or family members, and instruct your dog to heel alongside you as you weave between them. You can change your pace from fast to slow, which will encourage your dog to concentrate on following you as you change direction. This is an awesome way to work on coordination, while also getting a cardio workout — for both of you.
There’s no shortage of meaningful activities you can do with your dog, even when you’re cooped up inside. Be sure to make the most of it and spend some quality time bonding with your dog and developing their mental and physical skills.
The AKC is here to help dog owners through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Find answers to all your coronavirus concerns, plus at-home activity ideas, training tips, educational resources, and more on our Coping With COVID-19 hub.