While we are still enjoying many sunny mild days, we are seeing more blustery cooler days. There will be times when we return home from work or activities and it may be cold, dark, rainy, or all three at the same time. We may not want to take the dog walking. So what are we to do? Dogs need to work off some energy. They like to check out the neighborhood and they want to spend time with us too. Obviously, we could just grumble and go for a walk but there are other ways to get exercise and spend time with our fuzzy family members that are fun and allow us to remain inside, dry, and comfortable. I am talking about games that we can play with a dog inside a house or apartment.
Some of the games require our fuzzy friends to have a few basic obedience skills such as sit and stay. If those skills are lacking, that is a good place to start. With some patience, lots of praise, plenty of practice, and an abundance of really good treats, the sit and stay skills can be learned in a few days. There are a variety of options for learning obedience skills such as using internet articles, checking out library books, viewing YouTube videos, or attending in-person obedience classes. Once sit and stay are in the dog’s skill set, the door is open for fun games that both the dog and person can play.
Hide and Seek is a game that many dogs enjoy. My Blue Heeler and Corgi really enjoy this game. The dogs are given a sit and stay in the living room. Then, I go down the hall and hide someplace. I make a unique sound that is used only for games. That is their signal to come look for me. Initially, I hid in locations where they could easily find me and I provided lots of verbal cues to help them locate me. Over time as they became adept at the game, the locations became harder to find and the number and volume of verbal cues decreased.
Find It is another fun game. The game begins by giving the dogs a sit and stay before I go to another room. Out of their sight, I hide their favorite toys. I call them and they hurry into the room and begin looking for their toys. The game ends when both toys are located. The Corgi is much better at finding the toys but the game is fun for both of them.
Years ago I had a Corgi that had never learned to play with toys. I could tell that she wanted to join in play with us but could not figure out how to do it. So I decided to teach her a game that only she knew. I called it Quick Catch. Her mouth was on the small size so I used four racquetballs for the game since they were just her size. I sat on the floor and had her sit on the floor about three feet away and facing me. The four balls were lined up in front of me. One at a time, I tossed a ball at her and she quickly learned to catch it. Next, I tossed the balls quicker, one after the other. In no time, she learned to catch a ball and quickly release it so she was ready to catch the next one. She could very quickly catch twelve throws in a row without a miss. She was real proud of herself and her special skill.
If you have a long hall in your house this next game is for you. I call the game Block It and I play it with dogs and a cat. The object of the game is to have the animal block or stop the ball so it does not get past them. I award me a point if I can get the ball past them and to the end of the hall. To start, I have the animal stay in the doorway where the hall starts. I go across the room, at least three or four feet away from the animal, and roll a ball toward them. The dogs will try to catch or block the ball. Then, most of the time, they will bring the ball back to me so we can play again. The cat will bat the ball back to me to continue the game. Playing inside games with dogs and cats is a good way for them to work off some of their energy if you do not want to go outside. In addition, it is a great way to build or strengthen the bond between animals and their people. With a little thought, you can come up with other games that can be enjoyed and played inside. Let the games begin.