Find fun indoor games to play with your dog when it’s too hot (or too cold and rainy) to play outside. These games will reinforce your dog’s training and keep her mind and body fit – plus, playing together strengthens your human/dog bond.
Happy dogs are tired dogs. So to keep your pup happy and your home relatively intact, let the games begin. But what if it’s even too hot for a walk outside or otherwise not a good day to dash around outside? Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Stacy Braslau-Schneck has got some pooch-pleasing indoor games that can even reinforce your dog’s training. Just use the game as a high-value reward for good behavior or learning a new skill – since some dogs may be more excited by the prospect of play versus food treats, these can be excellent rewards. Plus, playing together strengthens your human/dog bond, keeps your dog fit, motivated and boredom-free. Here are three of Stacy Braslau-Schneck’s choice pup games.
Hide and Go Seek
Everybody loves hide and seek, even dogs. You can use this game to help your pup practice the “recall” command. Start by getting out of your dogs’ sight. Then call to her using your normal recall command and be very excited when she arrives. Make the game harder by hiding behind doors, couches, anywhere where she’ll have to look for you. If your dog is very good at “stay” you can use this to keep her in place while you hide. If she doesn’t find you, call her again. Some dogs will follow their noses to you, other will rely on sight, most will learn to come on command faster just by playing along.
Help your dog learn to “stay” by placing a treat or toy within her sight. Then return to her and encourage her to go get the treat. Repeat this, this time putting the treat where your dog can’t see it, but can see you hiding it (behind a chair, for example). Release her and let her find the treat, showing her where it is if necessary. Finally, hide the treat in another room out of sight and if she remains in her stay position until you release her, allow your dog to find the treat. Increase the distance, difficulty, and number of treats as she improves her stay command.
Clean Up Your Toys
Collect an assortment of dog-safe items and toys in a bucket and scatter them on the floor in front of your dog. Then, get your dog to place each toy into your hand one at a time. Once the dog has lifted a toy high enough for your hand to fit underneath it, reward her with a treat. Continue by making it more and more challenging for your dog to put each toy in your hand while reinforcing the fun of earning the treat. Place each retrieved toy in the bucket (some pups even start putting things directly into the bucket themselves) and watch as your pup learns to clean up his toys, one by one.
Thank you to Stacy Braslau-Schneck, CPDT and Behavior Specialist from the Bay Area’s Stacy’s Wag ‘n’ Train for sharing her tips on game playing with your dog. Additional thanks to Janet A. Smith for the Treasure Hunt game and Diana Hilliard for the Clean Up Your Toys game.
Originally published February 2009; reviewed and updated June 2017.