Fellow doggies, you may have noticed humans avoiding each other on walks, reduced trips or no trips to dog parks and not being able to meet our dog friends.
We may not understand what’s going on, but we can feel our humans’ anxiety. It’s a confusing time for us dogs, and all other pets.
Meanwhile, our humans are home now all the time!
With our humans staying home and working, we get more time with them. But no matter how much we love our humans, sometimes we get bored.
So, here are some ways your human can help entertain you and also provide positive Canine Enrichment Activities.
Toller Tips: Stay at Home Canine Enrichment Activities for Humans
Set Aside Playtime – You don’t need an elaborate dog agility course or lots of expensive toys. One way to combat your dog’s boredom is to just play with them. A good game of tug or “chase me” will engage your dog and tire them out.
Set aside specific chunks of time to play with your dog, especially if you are concerned your dog will interrupt you during a zoom room meeting or during your day as you work from home. By setting up an indoor playtime, you can help your dog learn when it’s play time and when it’s human work time.
Practice Basic Dog Obedience Skills – You may think, but my dog knows how to “Sit, Stay and Lay Down.” That’s great. However, practicing dog obedience skills is a good bonding experience and also sharpens your dog-human communications skills.
There are also ways to take your basic dog obedience skills and take them to the next level. When you introduce a new element to a basic obedience skill using force-free positive training methods, it challenges your dog mentally.
For example: Practice a “down-stay” with your dog. Then extend the distance between you and your dog and ask them to do into a “down-stay”. Slowly advance this basic skill by putting a few feet or meters between you and your dog. When your dog masters a “down stay” at a distance, then you can tweak this basic skill again. Place your dog in another room or go out of your dog’s sight line and put them in a “down stay”.
There are two benefits of practicing these basic skills. One, your dog will be mentally engaged and tired. Two, when you are working from home and need your dog to “stay” or “down stay” in another room or in place, you will have practiced it enough that your dog will be able to do it when you need it most.
"Find It" Games – “Find it Games” are great for indoor or backyard spaces. There are so many ways to create “find it” experiences. You can do it in 3 steps.
Step 1 - Place your dog in a separate room.
Step 2 - Take some of your dog’s favourite tasty treats and hide them around the room or outdoor space.
Step 3 – Release your dog from their waiting room and say, “find it”. Then watch your dog search for their reward.
Your dog will begin sniff searching the space. Reason the find it game is such a good canine enrichment game is because it engages your dog’s strongest sense – their nose. Dogs experience the world nose first. It engages their brain, makes them happy and tires them out.
Snuffle Mats – You may have seen these in some pet stores. Snuffle mats give your dog’s brain and nose a workout. Also, if you need a way to slow feed your dog, this may be a great option.
To use a Snuffle Mat, you hide bits of food in the fabric. Then place it on the floor and say, “find it”. Your dog will dive in and snuffle their way to a reward.
If you can’t afford a commercial snuffle mat, you can make them yourself.
There’s YouTube videos on how to make your own snuffle mat, like this one.
Dog Puzzles – Dog puzzles are a great way to relieve your dog’s boredom. There are a lot on the market, and you can order them online.
Dog puzzles range from simple slow feeder toys to elaborate sniffing puzzles. Make sure to read the description of how the dog puzzle to figure out if your dog will like it.
TollerTails.com will be doing a Dog Puzzle game review in May. So, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
Make an Indoor Doggy Obstacle Course – Creating a safe and fun dog friendly obstacle course out of things you have at home can be fun for dog and human. The key to making a dog friendly obstacle course inside the house requires two things.
One, putting dog safety first. Do not create an obstacle course that will cause injury. This means not creating hurdles out of household items that are sharp, too high or may injure. Think safety first.
Two, make sure not to confuse your dog. If your dog is not allowed on a specific chair or sofa, then don’t include getting up on that specific chair or the sofa in your obstacle course. Last thing you want to do is to confuse your dog and create an issue later on.
After you ensured your obstacle course is safe and appropriate to your dog’s age, height and health, the walk them through it.
A simple course could be just taking your dog around a series of obstacles like weaving around chairs. Or, if you have hula-hoop then you can get them to step through it or sit in the middle of it. The combinations depend on dog safety, space and human creativity that puts your dog’s perspective first.
Your DIY inhouse obstacle course doesn’t have to be fancy, or complicated. It just needs to be safe.