While I’m writing this blog the world is in lock-down; so it seems more relevant then ever. Wren and I are going stir crazy so these small boredom busters for dogs along side our daily walk is working out fantastically. However; these games don’t have to be just played in lock-down, they are great to play at any time.
Games and activities are an essential part of a dogs life they encourage:
1. Training – keeping those skills sharp
2. Attention – building up a focus and attention on the owner
3. Impulse control – foundations for most commands and skills for a dog
4. Use energy that couldn’t otherwise be released – not just during this lock-down but perhaps dogs are on crate rest after a trip to the vets or there is another reason they can get out
Hide & Seek
A huge favourite with most dogs; they can use their nose and usually creates a large amount of excitement. When first starting out playing this game I would recommend using treats with a strong scent; we started with fishy treats, place it down in the same room so your dog can see you. Then release your dog with the chosen command (we use “go find”). You can then build this up to all over the house with a range of treats, toys or even people.
Reinforces sit and stay command
Uses many areas of the brain in one tasks
Foundations for scent training
Command or Trick Training
Dogs love to learn new things so building up their obedience training at home is a clear winner. Remember to keep it short otherwise your dog will loose interest or become distracted. Additionally; whilst at home you can build up the difficulty in a safe environment with no distractions.
Kongs or Treat Dispensers
Kongs and other treat dispensers are AMAZING; they encourage playtime whilst offering mental and physical stimulation. Kongs are super durable and can be stuffed with absolutely anything (that is dog friendly) to keep them busy. When they are done they can even be popped in the dishwasher to be cleaned.
Check out these Kong Recipes from the Blue Cross
These can be used for longer periods of time – do not leave unattended
They are Independent games that can boost confidence
They are super tasty; if Kongs are frozen they will provide more challenge and last longer
Brain games & puzzles
We couldn’t let this post go by without sharing a couple of our favourite puzzle games.
- Hide and Slide Puzzles
- Dog activity boards
- Snuffle mats – these can be made at home or bought
This one in part is relatively new to me; whilst training we use shaping and luring to “shape” certain positions e.g. luring dogs into the correct down position with a treat. But there is a way to build particular behaviours based on small steps and no verbal commands with a dog.
A great example post to read is 101 things to do with a box by Karen Pyror. This shows a great shaping game in which you use a box, treats and no verbal commands. When the dog has any interaction with the box, they are rewarded. The long term goal is to give dogs courage around new object and shape further behaviours from the box. What could you shape from these behaviours? Get in the box, carry the box, paws on the box, even go to bed?
Builds confidence and independence within dogs and puppies
Proven to build confidence around new and strange objects
These boredom busters for dogs at home can be essential to those who can’t get out. They redirect dogs into healthy and interesting activities instead of getting cabin fever along with their humans!
Keep those brains active and get playing or leaning.
Don’t forget to share your favourite isolation games for others and check out another homemade game that we made a few years ago .