Stuck indoors? That doesn’t mean all of the great training momentum you and your pup 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 keeping up with training and exercise when you’re unable to go outside.
1. Teach a Skill Indoors
Choose a Canine Good Citizen skill your dog doesn’t have (or needs to polish) and set up a daily training time indoors. You can work on sit, down, come, and stay in a small space. If you are ready to move beyond CGC, start to teach your dog to heel. You can move furniture such as small tables or chairs so that you have obstacles that can be used to refine your pup’s heeling skills.
2. Tease Their Brains
Hide 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 her.” I taught my dog to play hide and seek by hiding nearby in the beginning (10 feet away behind a sofa as 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 (doggy dancing) moves are a good way to exercise larger dogs indoors. And, there is a certain amount of exercise your dog can get when you do CGC exercises as speed drills—sit, down, come, run with me (in a small area), stop, down, Let’s go…” You get the idea.
You may also consider training your dog to use indoor exercise equipment such as a 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. 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, Scent Work, and 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 video files for every Rally sign to help you through. Each video will show you how to perform that sign correctly. You can even create a complete mock Rally course at home. All you need are the signs and pylons. All of the AKC Rally signs can be downloaded and then printed and pylons can be ordered online. Some Rally 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.