Yes, playing outside is fun and is one of the best parts of summer! But sometimes, between the mosquitoes, the sunburn, the heatwaves, and the humidity, you just need a break from the sun and want to play indoors with some A/C.
This is especially true for dogs! Dogs have it harder when it comes to dispelling heat from their bodies, which is why staying cool with pools and fresh water is so important when playing outside. However, it can also be helpful to get more exercise indoors, in a climate-controlled space, where recovering from activities is easier to do. Allow for more leisurely activities when outdoors so your dog is exerting less energy when exposed to extreme elements. Here are some easy ideas on how to play indoors!
Play fetch in a hallway
Make sure there is appropriate traction for your dog to run on when you play indoors. If you have a long, carpeted hallway, or a runner area rug to provide traction, use that space for a fun game of fetch. Roll your ball instead of throwing it; this will make it more fun to chase, but also keep the ball from bouncing erratically in the hallway.
Cookie search games
Teach your dog to search for treats you’ve hidden around the house. First start by taking a treat, showing it to your dog, and very obviously placing it in a spot they can easily access. For example, take a biscuit and place it behind a chair leg, or around a corner/doorway. Say “Find it”, then encourage them to go to the treat and eat it. This may not take much encouragement and in fact, you may need to enlist someone to help gently hold your dog’s collar so you can hide the treats.
If your dog is successful at immediately finding the pieces you were hiding in plain sight, begin to move the treats to more difficult hiding places. Instead of just around the corner, choose behind an open door. Instead of behind a chair leg, choose on top of the chair’s footrest. Your dog will likely become proficient in a few repetitions but may need you to point out each piece after you initially say, “Find it”. Get creative and make the game more difficult as you go.
Teach tricks and put on a show
Teach your pup some fun, easy tricks! Tricks like Spin and Bow are fun ways to build your relationship with your pup, practice your dog’s critical thinking skills, increase their mental exercise, and an awesome opportunity to practice some proprioception (aka body awareness). Trick training is fun for the whole family and is a great way to entertain your friends and coworkers on your next Zoom call!
Work on a puzzle
Use your next toilet paper tube, cardboard delivery box, or an old towel as a puzzle for your dog! With your cardboard items, cut a few holes in the sides, place treats inside, then fold the large ends closed. You can give several to your dog at once and watch them rip up the cardboard to get at the cookies inside. Similarly, you can take some treats and roll or knot them into an old towel, then watch your dog as they pull, push, and shake the towel to get all of the goodies out. Always supervise when using these types of objects to ensure your dog doesn’t eat anything they shouldn’t.
See you next time, at Central Bark!
Carla is a Behavior & Operation Advisor for Central Bark and co-owns a dog training and behavior consulting business, Good Karma Canine. Carla has three dogs Karma, a seven-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier Mix; Gypsy, a five-year-old Bull Terrier/Lab Mix; and Newt, a two-year-old Chihuahua.