It’s spring in Portland! That means we’ll have beautiful sunny weather for long walks with our dogs…for about a week, before the rain returns! So – how do you keep your active pup entertained indoors (or simply occupied while you hop on your Zoom meeting)? Beyond the trusty frozen peanut butter Kong – here are a couple game ideas to keep Fido (and yourself!) sane while stuck indoors!
Hunt-the-Treat in the Muffin Tin
Begin with approximately 40 small treats (“training treats,” or large treats broken up into small pieces) or small cubes of cut up chicken or cheese, and drop 3 or 4 pieces into each cup of a metal muffin sheet. Place a tennis ball or other toy on top of each cup so the treats are covered. Your dog will have to lift or nudge the ball out of the way to reach the treats. Different sized balls and different toys will have different fits, meaning each one will require some trial and error to figure out how to get the yummies underneath! Make it more exciting by using a couple different kinds of treats, or more challenging by leaving some cups empty – your dog will have to learn to differentiate the scent between the cups with the treats, versus the decoys!
Nose Training Scavenger Hunt
Pick a room in your home that you feel comfortable using for a pup scavenger hunt! Once selected, have your dog sit and stay in another room or around the corner. Take a handful of small treats and hide them around the room. Then, give your dog the command “find it!” or something similar, and let them follow their nose to the hidden rewards. The beauty of this game is that it can be as easy or difficult as you need to challenge your dog. For the first couple rounds, you may leave the treats in easy to find locations – but once they have the hang of that, don’t be afraid to get creative! You can even hide treats under plastic cups or under blankets or towels to really challenge your pup to explore their surroundings and work with their noses!
Toy Name Memory Game
Did you know that a dog has roughly the same intelligence as a 2 year old child and the capability to learn over 200 words? We can put those linguistic capabilities to good use by teaching them the names of their toys! Begin by assigning a name to one of their favorite toys – for this example we’ll use “red ball”. By simply repeating the name while playing with the toy, they’ll start to pick up on the name you’re using. Set the toy on the ground, and ask your pup to get the “red ball.” Praise your pup (and offer a treat!) the moment they get the toy. Once your dog has memorized the name of the first toy, try adding a couple new toys around the original on the ground, and repeat the process, continuing to praise and treat your pup when they guess correctly! Repeat the process until your pup has the names of a few toys completely memorized. You may then set them out and have your dog go get their “red ball” for an encouraging playtime session!
If you’re looking for more enrichment ideas for your pets, a great resource is a book called “Beyond Squeaky Toys” – written by a local Oregon author!