Stuck inside because of lockdown? Read on to find out some fun games you can play indoors or in the garden with your furry friends during this difficult time.
With the UK still in lockdown due to coronavirus, you are more than likely stuck at home most your day due to social distancing or because you're self-isolating. As you are stuck at home this also means that your dog is likely to get less exercise than usual, however there are still lots of things you can do together inside the home or in the garden to tire your dog out.
Not only do we get bored of being stuck at home all day, but our four-legged friends do too! When dogs are stuck at home bored for long periods of time, this can result in destructive behaviour leading to undesirable consequences. Playing with your dog throughout the day can prevent this behaviour from occurring and stop them from making up their own games! It will help keep their minds focused on something rather than the behaviours you don’t want them doing.
These fun games are also brilliant for days when the weather is too hot, too cold, or too dangerous to venture out in. You can still continue to play them even when this whole Coronavirus pandemic has blown over and settled down.
One of the most obvious game that most dogs love to play with their owners is Fetch! You can play fetch inside your home with soft toys or a tennis ball (try not to throw it too hard!) but make sure that they don’t bounce (only if you want to save the furniture!), ensuring that you do this on a carpeted floor and away from the stairs to avoid your dog slipping or falling when they’re running after the toy.
Tug of war
Lots of dogs also love a good game of tug and war against their owners! Tug-of-war can be a great game of not only exercising them but teaching them self-control and how to make sure that play stays controlled. All you need is their favourite rope or soft toy to play this game with and your all set!
Find the treat
Find the treat is a game you play with your dog even if you’re working from home but still need to keep your dog occupied. Dogs love to use their nose to sniff out food or discover new smells as we know well enough by now, so why not have some fun and watch them discover all the hidden treats around the home!
How to play with treats
Show your dog that you have a piece of food/treat in your hand.
Say “find it!” and then throw the piece of food/treat across the floor for them to discover.
When your dog finds the piece of food, praise them and tell them “Good boy/girl!” so they know they’ve followed through on the action that you wanted from them. Doing this will mean they will understand the action was right and they will associate it with the command “find it!”.
Some dogs aren’t bothered by food/treats so if you want to, you can also play this game with toys if your dog is more toy orientated.
Once your dog has mastered the command “find it!”, If you’d like to challenge your dog even further, you can make the ‘find it!’ game more advanced by telling your dog to “stay” while you hide the treat/s behind pieces of furniture (make them easy to begin with). You can also place your dog in a room, hide all of the treats in a different room and then open the door for your dog and say, ‘find it!’.
Hide and seek Everyone knows what hide and seek is! Believe it or not you can play it with your dog and it’s not as difficult as it might sound. Just in the way that you can use the ‘find it!’ game to ask your dog to find treats and toys; you can also ask them to find people. To begin, you ideally need two people to play the game,
While one person goes to hide, the other will keep the dog distracted or ask them to “stay”.
When the other person is hidden, the person with the dog will say ‘find’ and then say the person’s name i.e., ‘find Harry!’
When your dog finds you, be sure to make a big fuss over them and praise them so they know they’ve done the right thing!
You can play this game by yourself with your dog, by following similar rules as instructed above. You can try and hide without them following you and then once you have hidden, say “Find it!” or call your dog using their name so they can find you.
Keep your hiding spots simple and easy to start with (making sure they can see you), preferably staying in one room and then gradually make it more difficult as you repeat the exercise.
Agility can be a fun game for everyone including your dog as they can show off their great tricks to you! Lots of dogs being active, so building your own small agility course can be great fun. Even if you don’t have any agility equipment, you can always DIY the equipment using objects around the house. Use your imagination and get creative!
Want to know how to teach your dog agility? Click here to watch our ‘how-to’ videos on our training channel.
Fun with food
Keep your dog mentally stimulated by using their scavenger nature to your advantage! Lots of dogs love using their nose to hunt for food, especially gundog breeds like beagles, spaniels and retrievers to name a few. Instead of using your dog’s normal food bowl when giving them their meals, think about using a Kong, food puzzle, treat boards or activity ball to keep them entertained and occupied for a longer period of time. You can even use the ‘find it!’ game to hide all of their breakfast/dinner so they play as they eat (maybe only if they have dry food!).
Training your dog is all fun and games. Training is a great way to encourage bonding between you and your furry friend as well as keeping them mentally stimulated whether they are a new puppy or older dog.
You can watch our ‘how-to’ training videos to learn how teach them new tricks like sit, down, paw etc. Once you have the basic commands in place, you can start to teach your dog more complex tricks and commands such as shutting doors, roll over, high five, spin and so on. Just remember when training your dog to be patient with both puppy’s and older dogs!
At the end of the day, after all that hard work you will want to have a rest, so why not get your dog involved! Have a cuddle and show them lots of affection for how well they’ve done.
Try to avoid playing a game that could end up with a vet visit! Games that could cause your dog to become more excited than usual should be played on non-slip surfaces to avoid injury to you or your dog. These games include find it, tug of war and fetch.
A good tip is to put treats/toys away after you’ve finished playing the game so that your dog can understand that that is the cue for the game being over.
When you are training your dog new tricks and commands, make sure you are in a quiet room in your house with minimal to no distractions to help them focus better on you.
Make sure training sessions with your dog are kept short to ease them into it without them feeling bored or overwhelmed.
Be patient! Just like us, dogs all learn at different paces so don't worry if your dog doesn't pick things up straight away compared to what google might say it should take or a friend.