Below are some fun ideas for keeping your dig active during lockdown. These work equally well on a rainy day or if you are confined to a small space say a caravan or boat on your holidays. Most of these are also good fun for the kids as well.
Just remember to pick games that suit your doggies temperament and also the age, ability or fitness level. Playing fetch on the stairs with your veteran doggy with joint problems isn't the best idea.
1: Play tug of war.
Lots of dogs love this game, not all dogs. For example our Jack Russell will play this for hours but our Schnauzer just isn't interested.
Tug of war is a great way to practice keeping control of your dog when they get excited. Its good for their teeth and muscles and doggies don't just get a healthy workout from playing this game they gets lots of stimulation as well.
However to avoid the game going to far its best to have some rules in place:
It is always you that initiates the game. If your pooch takes the toy before you give the command they should get a timeout. Then you ask them to sit and you initiate the game by offering the toy.
You are always in control. Only play if you can get your dog to release the toy and sit at anytime. Stop the game often take control of the toy and make your dog sit regularly as you play.
Intersperse the game with short training commands. Sit, down etc. You can then restart as a reward/
If your pooch ever makes contact with their teeth you immediately let out a yelp and remove the toy and yourself for a timeout 30 seconds or so. Before you resume you should practice taking the toy away a few times.
To teach your puppy to release stop tugging give a release command ( for example I use the word "Give". If puppy doesn't want to release you can try waggling a food treat in front of their nose with the other hand. As soon as they release praise puppy and ask them to sit, when they sit give them the treat.
Then you can restart the game by waggling the toy for them to play with. Hopefully you will soon be able to get them to release without the treat. You keep rewarding release with praise and by giving them back the toy to play with.
Hopefully your dog learns that giving up the toy isn't the end of the world as it earns you lots of praise and you will probably get it back anyway.
Most dogs love to chase and retrieve and so get hooked to playing fetch pretty quickly. Other require more positive reinforcement and encouragement to get enjoyment out of the game. Nearly all dogs need to learn how to do the bring back and release.
Find a toy that your dog loves. Show your dog the toy get them all excited and then throw it. Once he picks it up call him and show him another toy, ( you might have to act like your going to throw the other toy) Hopefully he will drop the first toy and come running to chase the second one.
If your dog needs more encouragement than a second toy you can use a treat. Make sure you get the toy back in your possession before you give the treat.
If you dog is as happy playing chase as he is fetch and persists in running away with the ball turn your back and walk away. Hopefully your dog will run towards you.
You could also try keeping you dog on a lead while you master the bring back and release part of this game.
Don't forget not al dog master this game straight away. Be patient and consistent and practice a little each day. Your dog will eventually figure it out.
3: Play hide and seek
This is a great game to play with your dog to strengthen and create a bond between you and it is a great workout for their brains. It reinforces lots of training commands in a fun way, strengthens recall behaviours and develops his natural instincts reinforcing his scent tracking.
You can play this by hiding a toy or treat and having your dog seek it out or you can hide yourself and have you dog come find you when you call.
To play with toys or treats. Ask your dog to sit and stay out of sight ( or put them in another room). Hide their favourite toy and then call them into find it. Hide the toy in easy places to start with and use lots of encouragement to get your dog looking. Wave your hands and point near to the hiding place to encourage them to pick up the scent. Don't forget lots of praise when they find the toy.
To play find you. Ask you dog to sit/stay in another room. Then go and hide. Once hidden call your dog to come find you. You may need to call repeatedly until they find you.
If you are playing with the kids you can get them to hide while you stay with the dog and then you and the dog can run from room to room looking for the kids.
4: Build an obstacle course
This is limitless and my kids love setting up course for our two dogs.
We have included toilet rolls stacked up for them to jump adding a row each time to see you hight they can get.
They have lined up the dining chairs and encourage the dogs to jump up then down along the line of chairs.
They include tunnels under the dining chairs as well and use all sorts of obstacles for the dogs to jump including the kids themselves.
Hula hoops are fantastic. Lay them flat on the ground and encourage the dog to run in and then perform a command sit, down, give paw before moving onto the next one. If you don't have a hula hoop my kids sometimes use cushions of towels on the floor for the dog to jump onto before performing the command.
5:Muffin Tin game:
This game uses your dogs sense of smell and sight and provides a real challenge for their brains.
To set this game up you need a Muffin tin 6 or 12, a tennis ball for each hole and some treats.
The aim of the game is for your dog to sniff out the treats and then dislodge the tennis ball so he can get the treat. The challenge for your dog is to remember where he has found treats and where he hasn't. Especially if he rolls a tennis ball from one hole to another.
Once you have set up the tray place it on the floor and encourage your dog to check it out. You may need to get him started by slightly lifting a ball so he can see and sniff the hidden treat. Don't forget to give lots of praise when he finds the treat.