If you live in climate where you have real seasons, there will be many a day where you opt for a quick walk around the block as opposed to your usual extended meander. This isn’t anything to feel guilty about, sometimes in harsh weather it’s the much safer option to stay indoors!
Luckily, you can still keep your dog occupied by playing brain games.
This is a great way to stimulate their mind without having to walk through the front door! It can also do wonders for your relationship and bond.
A super-easy brain game is the good old treasure hunt. First of all, figure out which reward your fur-baby places a higher value on.
Firstly, call your dog’s name, offer them food rewards and toy rewards on the ground.
Watch which reward they choose first. This will be your treasure. Whichever they opts for, you are going to hide it around your home.
So place treats/toys behind cushions, curtains, under tables or stools, behind doors, in boxes etc.
Just be mindful that you place the treasure where it’s safe to access and you’re sure your dog won’t just barge their way around your home to find it!
You may have to show your dog where you are hiding the treasure when you first introduce this game, just until they get the hang of it.
The next game is very similar to a treasure hunt but confined to small boxes/baskets/tubs. Buy some kid’s pit balls (you can pick them up super cheap from most places).
Then start saving your delivery boxes and paper stuffing along with any baskets or flexy tubs you may have lying around.
Place some balls into the boxes/tubs/baskets along with some scrunched-up paper. Throw some treats into the boxes/tubs/baskets and encourage your dog to sniff them out.
You can place boxes and tubs around your home so your dog has to move between rooms, or you can limit it to just one if needed. It confines their activity if they are quite boisterous in the home or if they have limited mobility.
Some dogs try to play with the balls in the boxes, so to start off with you may have to hold the tubs or boxes so they don’t just tip them over.
This is a great game for those dogs who like to use their nose. If your dog is fed kibble it can be a great way to stretch out their mealtime.
Sniff For Treats
Our last game for a rainy day is one everyone can do; all you need to find is a blanket or towel. Fold your towel or blanket like a fan, backwards and forwards onto itself.
As you are doing so, push some treats into the folds. Your dog’s task is to sniff out the treats between the folds.
This can be a great activity for calming a hyper-aroused dog as we know that sniffing lowers their pulse rate.
Stressed dogs tend to sniff less when faced with a difficult situation so it’s great to encourage sniffing behaviour.
Brain games are a great way to keep your dog occupied when you can’t head out for your usual walk, or you just want to add some more stimulation to their daily routine.
Not only does it keep their mind active, but it can help to ward of cognitive decline in the older dog.
Figure out what reward your dog places high value on and work with that – you really can get super creative with your brain games!
Written by John Woods for Friendly Dog Collars
All Things Dogs | Dog Breeds, Training and Behaviour