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English Cocker Spaniel sitting on a rug near the door.
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Stuck indoors? That doesn’t mean all of the great training momentum you and your dog have built up over the past months has to come to a screeching halt. Even though you may be confined, your dog still needs the physical and mental stimulation that comes from learning new skills. Here are some ideas for indoor dog training.

1. Teach a Skill Indoors

Choose a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) skill your dog doesn’t have (or needs to polish) and set up an indoor dog training time daily. You can work on sit, down, come, and stay in a small space.

If you are ready to move beyond CGC skills, start to teach your dog to heel. By moving furniture such as small tables or chairs, you can create obstacles that you can use to refine your dog’s heeling skills.

2. Tease Their Brains

Hide dog treats or toys and have your dog find them. Or, if your dog has a reliable stay, you can play a fun game of hide and seek. Put the dog in a stay, and then go and hide somewhere in the house or apartment. Have a family member tell the dog, “Go find them.”

Bull mastiff puppy playing with a toy
©inna_astakhova -

I taught my dog to play hide and seek by hiding nearby in the beginning (I was 10 feet away behind a sofa, and a family member kept Wyn from peeking). Wyn quickly got good enough at this game that I could go upstairs, walk in and out of rooms, and eventually hide behind the shower curtain in the bathtub before Wyn was sent to “go find Mary.” It was never clear which of us was having more fun with this game.

3. Provide Indoor Exercise

Small dogs can be easily exercised indoors by having them chase a ball (you can teach retrieving) in a hallway. Canine freestyle (dog dancing) moves are a good way to exercise larger dogs indoors. Your dog can even get a certain amount of exercise from doing CGC exercises — sit, down, come, “Run with me” (in a small area), stop, down, and “Let’s go” — as speed drills.

You may also consider training your dog to use indoor exercise equipment such as a dog treadmill.

4. Get Creative

Now is a great time to try out new recipes and crafts. There are lots of dog-friendly treat recipes you can make from items in your pantry, such as Xylitol-free peanut butter, broth, and plain oats.

Golden Retriever eating from a bowl on the kitchen counter with its owner having breakfast right beside it.
©Africa Studio -

Create your own toys and games to keep your dog alert and stimulated. Cardboard containers make great destructible treat dispensers. Empty toilet paper tubes or paper towel rolls can be stuffed with soft treats for an easy homemade toy.

5. Keep Active in Sports or Start a New One

Just because you are confined to your house or apartment doesn’t mean you can’t continue training for AKC sports. There are many ways to keep up with your dog’s training for sports like Agility, AKC Scent Work, and AKC Rally. If you don’t have agility equipment, make your own by stacking a broom on top of two piles of books or use large packing boxes as tunnels.

Although learning 42 Rally signs at home might seem overwhelming, the AKC has YouTube videos that will show you how to perform each sign correctly. You can even create a complete mock AKC Rally course at home. All you need are the signs and pylons. You can download and print all of the AKC Rally signs, and you can also order pylons online. Som courses require up to 12 pylons, so it’s a good idea to purchase that many.

There are lots of easy scent work games to try at home as well. Have old shoeboxes or egg cartons? Hide treats in containers you already have around the house and watch your dog’s nose and brain go to work.

Related article: Why Does Your Dog Get Scared While Training?
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Canine Good Citizen (CGC)

This program is recognized as the gold standard for dog behavior. In CGC, dogs who pass the 10 step CGC test can earn a certificate and/or the official AKC CGC title.
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