Winter is coming! It is great to be getting some much-needed rain but keeping your dog entertained during the wet weather can become more challenging. If your dog doesn't enjoy getting out in the rain, here are some fun indoor activities you may want to try when it is raining cats and dogs (it had to be said!):
- Puzzle toys
There are many types of dog puzzle toys on the market - you can even try making one yourself. They are an easy way to keep your dog entertained. I often take one out for my dog when I'm cooking dinner or watching a favourite TV show. I love watching my dog's enthusiasm as she tries to solve the "problem" and get her reward. The flatter puzzles that lay on the floor tend to be easier - a good place to start for younger dogs or for your dog's first puzzle. Puzzles with multiple layers are more complicated. If the puzzle is too challenging, your dog may get frustrated and give up so you might need to give them some help to get started.
- Indoor games
Let your imagination run free! Mental exercise is just as important for your dog as physical exercise so I try and incorporate some brain games into our routine everyday. "Treasure hunt" is one of our favourites - I get my dog to sit/stay (for some bonus impulse control) and I hide treats around the house and then release her to "find the treasure". Wet weather is a great introduction to nose games and will be mentally stimulating for your dog. This is a great time to try a snuffle mat (or check out YouTube for tips on making your own). If you're not familiar with a snuffle mat, it is a mat with lots of fabric strips tied to it. You can hide treats in the mat and your dog then uses their natural scavenging abilities to sniff out the treats. Another popular indoor game is "hide and seek" or you can create a DIY obstacle course around your house, remembering to always keep your dog's age and physical ability in mind.
- Trick training
This is without a doubt my dog's favourite activity (and one of mine too!). When starting out, keep your trick training sessions short - 5 minute sessions are plenty when your dog is learning a new trick. Start with some basics like "shake" and always be positive with plenty of praise. Don't get frustrated if your dog isn't learning the trick straight away - you may need to break the trick down into smaller components. There is nothing more satisfying than when it all comes together!
- Doggy day spa
Catch up on some grooming. If your dog doesn't enjoy a brush, keep your grooming session short and give plenty of praise. These grooming sessions can be a beautiful way to maintain your special bond together. A doggy massage is the perfect finishing touch. Did you know that massage reduces stress for both the giver and receiver? Learning how to give your dog a massage is easy; there are plenty of resources around (leave a comment if you are interested in blog on this topic). Where does your dog like to be touched? Get to know what your dog normally feels like; regular massages can help you detect any unusual lumps or bumps at the first sign. This can be a powerfully bonding time and particularly beneficial to try if your dog is nervous during a thunderstorm.
- Play date
Invite a doggy friend over to play (and their human too!). Dog lovers love an opportunity to talk about their favourite topic! Always supervise play sessions - getting along at the dog park is one thing but the dynamics can change when "home turf" is involved. Play dates provide important opportunities for socialisation but some dogs just don't enjoy playing with other dogs. Your dog relies on you to keep their environment safe so watch for any signs of anxiety and be ready to intervene.
- Binge watch
After all that bonding and mental stimulation, sometimes it is nice to just snuggle on the couch and binge watch your favourite shows. Pupcorn anyone?
Do you have any ideas to add to the list? Please share your ideas in the comments. We would love to hear if any of these ideas have helped.