Ways to Beat Boredom with your Dog
With cold weather inevitably comes boredom and with boredom can come mischievous behavior! We’ve compiled a list of activities that will provide both physical and mental stimulation to help you make it through the winter unscathed!
Enroll in Classes
Of course, one of our favorite ways to exercise your dog is to take dog training classes.
Some of our upcoming classes include:
- The Active Dog – Great for dogs who have tons of energy
- K9 Nose Work – Teach your dog to hunt, forage, and find things
- Agility – Learn motivational games, confidence building exercises, and be introduced to a number of agility obstacles
- Control Unleashed – Help your dog learn to relax, focus, and work reliably in stimulating or stressful situations.
- CGC Prep – Winter is a GREAT time to work on earning your Canine Good Citizen title!
Nose work games
Guess which hand!
- Place a treat in one hand.
- Close your fists and put them in front of your dog.
- Ask your dog to pick which hand the treat is in.
- When dog chooses the right hand by sniffing or pawing at your hand, open your hand and give them the treat.
Extra credit: Work on a “gentle” command to soften a dog’s touch!
- Place your dog in a stay or if your dog is crate trained, put them in their crate.
- In another room, out of your dog’s sight, place treats in various locations (on windowsills, under the corner of furniture, under a toy, etc.)
- Release your dog from their stay or crate and let them hunt for the treats!
Extra credit: Work on the duration of your “stay”!
Solo Boredom Busters
Food toys like Kongs are a great idea to keep your dog busy when you can’t tend to them.
Kong stuffing ideas:
Fill & Freeze:
- Cottage cheese
- Mashed banana & Cheerios
- Mashed potatoes & dog biscuits
- Chicken broth & Kibble
- Canned tuna, yogurt & diced carrot
Stuff & Share:
- Crumbled rice cakes with cream cheese
- Dried fruit and peanut butter
- Dog biscuits with peanut butter and yogurt
- Scrambled egg, yogurt & cheese
Make your dog work for their meal!
One of the easiest ways to burn off some mental energy is to make their meals challenging. Using a treat dispensing ball is a great way to extend mealtime for fast eaters and to encourage picky dogs to eat with more enthusiasm.
Treat dispensing toys that we love:
- OurPets Smarter Toys Interactive IQ Treat Ball
- JW Pet Company Rockin Treat Ball
- PetSafe Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble
- KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing Dog Toy
Teach your dog the name of their toys!
Start by playing with one toy and give that toy a specific name while you play. Once your dog has learned the name of that toy, you can proof their new skill by asking them to pick it out of a pile of other toys!
Teach your dog to “pick it up”
- Get one of your dog’s favorite toys and set it on the ground. Wait for him to pick it up in his mouth. Click and treat.
- Repeat until he starts picking up the toy without hesitation, then start using the command “pick it up” when you click and treat.
Teach your dog to clean up their toys!
- Put your dog’s toy box near you.
- Toss your dog a toy. As your dog approaches you, point to the box.
- If your dog drops the toy into the box, click and treat and drop a few treats into the box.
- If your dog does not drop the toy in the box, just toss the toy again. Placing the box in between you and your dog can help your dog to drop the toy in the box.
- Once your dog is dropping the toy in the box almost every time, move the box slightly to proof the behavior. Always reward the dog by putting the treats in the box!
- If you’ve reinforced the box enough, you can start to move to a toy laying on the floor instead of being tossed. You may need to entice the dog by moving the toy and slowly building up to a stationary toy.
- Add your verbal cue once the dog is picking up the stationary toy and putting it into the box reliably.
Active dog games
Just like people, when your dog is inactive, they can gain weight and with that comes a number of health risks like diabetes, heart disease and joint pains. To keep your dog active throughout the winter (and maybe even get a little exercise yourself) try the following activities.
Play a game of tag!
This requires two people. Each person stands at one end of the room and calls the dog toward them. Reward the dog when he comes. This is a great way to reinforce your recall command!
Extra Credit: Move further and further apart each time – even into separate rooms!
Have your dog follow you up and down the stairs.
Throw a ball or toy up the stairs and have your dog retrieve it.
Climb one step then ask for a sit. Repeat until you get to the top. Next time, climb two steps, then ask for a sit. Then try with 3 stairs at a time. When your dog is sitting reliably, ask for a sit at random intervals. This forces your dog to concentrate on you and increases focus and attention!
Play hide and seek!
Put your dog in a sit while you go hide. Once you’ve hidden, call their name and have a party when they find you!