Whether you’re feeling under the weather or the weather outside is frightful, your dog still needs activity. But indoor days should not only be reserved for emergencies.
“Mental exercise that can be provided indoors is important for a dog regardless of the weather,” shares trainer Emily Carl. “It can burn energy faster than physical exercise.”
Here are our top four tips for keeping your dog stimulated in the absence of long walks and trips to the dog park.
Scent work is an activity that trains dogs to use their strongest sense – smell – to learn and locate different scents. Essentially, scent training teaches dogs to detect various odors (usually essential oils) and then notify you that they've detected the smell. Not only does this activity strengthen the connection between a dog’s nose and brain, but it can also improve communication and trust between a dog and its owner, keeping dogs engaged in a fun and interactive way. It’s very easy to set up and most of the supplies can be found around the house.
Tug of War
This classic favorite is an exceptional way to motivate and reinforce a dog’s natural instincts. It is great for impulse control and builds confidence for dogs in a distracting environment, allowing them to solely focus on their owner to ease their anxiety. As an owner, it is important to play the game safely and intently, stimulating both mechanical and emotional skills to the highest degree.
Agility training – such as running through weave poles or play tunnels – is a fun way to exercise your dog physically and mentally. Agility improves focus, utilizes energy, and strengthens communication between dog and owner. It’s also a great form of goal setting and tapping into your dog’s competitive side. It can be the perfect fast-paced rush for your dog – and gets them into great shape.
Puzzle games are an instant cure to boredom and anxiety for dogs stuck in the house. Food toys can help periodically treat picky dogs while giving them interactive ways to improve their problem-solving skills. It’s also a great way to help challenge your dog to earn their food, rather than keeping the same consistent routine.
Playing inside is not only a refreshing alternative to outdoor exercise, but also can help your pet stay physically and mentally healthy. “It's important to find indoor alternatives to outdoor exercise for your dog because dogs are not made to withstand all temperatures and weather conditions,” explains Emily Carl. “If a dog only knows the outdoors as their source of exercise, they will be more likely to show problematic behaviors due to pent-up energy when the weather does not allow for outdoor exercise.”
Plus, it gives you a great excuse to binge that new Netflix show after a long week. Balance, right?