Now that Summer is upon us, so are the rainy days and stormy evenings… I don’t know about you, but my dog is NOT a fan of the rain, and would rather sit inside all day long instead of getting some exercise in this weather! Because my dog is a giant baby, and believes that rain will melt her, I’ve had to research some creative ways of giving her some mental stimulation on rainy days. Here’s what I’ve found:
Hide and Seek: This game definitely works best in a larger house, and probably would be over pretty quickly in a small apartment. With that in mind, this can be a super fun game for some curious dogs. The game is easy enough, and gets you to practice your dog’s “sit and stay”. All you have to do is ask your dog to stay in one room, while you run to another room and hide. Then you can call a cue word like “OK” or “Find Me”, and your pup has to seek you out! This game is so fun for your dog, and really makes them work their noses, ears, and their brains… the key is to play enough rounds that they get tired!
Treasure Hunt: This is a great scent game to play with your pup! Again, the rules are super simple… ask your dog to “sit and stay” while you hide tasty treats around the room. Be sure to 1) choose very stinky treats to help your dog out 2) remember where you hid them in case your dog doesn’t find them all. When you’re done, release your dog from their “stay” and say “Find It”. Each treat they find is a reward in and of itself! When they’ve mastered the treasure hunt in a single room, you can expand their search to the rest of the house/apartment.
The Cup Game: An adorable spin off an old parlour game! The cup game is another super simple scent game to play with your pup. Take three (or more) cups and put a stinky treat under one of them. Have your dog “Sit Stay” and let them watch while you move the cups around. Then release your pup by saying “Find It!”, and give them the treat when they put their nose on the correct cup.
Basic Training: Rainy days are a great time to work on some obedience 101 with your dog. Give them refreshers on “Sit, Stay, and Come”, and you can turn it into a fun game like Red Light, Green Light! This is definitely a game to play in short bursts – a long duration of this game would likely frustrate a lot of dogs, so be sure that the rewards are high and the games are quick!
Toy Pick Up: This is a super cool game that can be translated into a lot of other things such as picking up dirty laundry or retrieving the paper! Spread your dog’s toys all over the floor, and chances are they will naturally go to pick one up. When they do, make a “trade” with the toy for a treat. You just laid the foundation for “retrieve and drop”. After a while, the dog will learn that they get rewards when they pick things up and bring them to you. You can even throw in a “name game”, and name their toys so you can discern which one you want them to pick up!
Muffin Tin Game: This is essentially a DIY food puzzle! Grab any ol’ muffin tin from your cupboard and fill some of the holes with stinky treats. Cover the holes with toys or tennis balls, and let your dog figure out where the treats are. The awesome thing about food puzzles is that when the dog finds a treat, they essentially reward themselves, and learn how to beat the game so quickly!
With these brain teasers in your arsenal, your pup is sure to never have a boring day inside again! If your looking for new and fresh ideas, just google “Mental Enrichment For Dogs”, and you’ll find so many more fun games!