5 Fun Tricks Your Dog Can Do When It’s Raining: Not being outside in the rain annoys dogs more. Dynamic dog parents know the difficulty of entertaining a restless dog in a small space.
To keep your body moving and your companion’s mind stimulated, try some fun games that combine physical exercise with mental challenges and offer plenty of bonding opportunities.
Below are seven rainy-day dog activities, from brain-teasing hide-and-seek and scent training to heart-pounding obstacle courses and staircase races.
1. Hidden Treats Scent Work
Learning your dog to find prizes with its nose is a great mental and physical workout. Even though all dogs have a sense of smell 100,000 times stronger than ours, they sometimes need reminders.
To motivate your dog to exercise its olfactory system, this game uses toys and treats. Start with at least four or five boxes or opaque containers upside-down in a row and hide a prize under one. Encourage your dog to smell the boxes; it will likely stop at the prize box. When your dog wins, lift the box to reveal the treat and praise it.
After several rounds of this exercise, your dog will understand the goal and be more eager to find its prize. Once your dog’s scent work improves, add boxes at farther intervals to challenge his brain.
An indoor game of hide-and-seek is great practice for dogs that know “find it,” or any command that sends them searching. Hunting lets dogs use their natural instincts.
First show your dog what you’re hiding, such as a favorite toy or person, then lock him in another room while you hide it. Use your preferred “find it” command and vocal cues like “good” and “uh oh” to guide your dog. When hiding, call the dog by name.
Instead of speaking, point or walk towards the hiding place until your dog understands the game. Give it praise for finding the hidden object. Eventually, your companion should search faster and return to all your hidden objects.
Move to creative hiding places like under a laundry basket or on a bookshelf above the dog’s head if the game gets too easy. You can even stomp around the house while hiding it to confuse the dog. Instead of “find it,” use “toy” or “ball.”
Is your dog unfamiliar with “find it”? Pose with your dog and ask “where’s your toy?” after hiding it. Like “where’s your ball?” Your dog should answer the question after several finds.
3. Through, Under, Over
Teaching a dog a new trick is great mental exercise, but physical exertion is even better. Under, over, and through challenges puppies’ spatial relationships, stimulates older dogs’ brains, and works out their bodies with its up, down, and around movement.
Place a kitchen chair, step stool, or other sturdy, legged object in the middle of the room. Try rewarding your dog for crawling under it. Use “sit” or “stay” to keep your dog under the apparatus. Hand signals work if your dog doesn’t know those commands.
Try crawling through, walking around, and jumping over the object if your dog is big enough and knows “jump” Teaching your dog to jump over objects is difficult and won’t happen overnight. Treat your dog when it does something right.
While not required, clicker training, which rewards desirable behavior with an audible click, works well for this game because your dog must use positive reinforcement to figure out what you want.
After teaching your dog to go under, over, and through an object, you can speed up or let him choose. Encourage the dog to try new tricks like putting one or both paws on the apparatus, jumping on it, crawling under it, backing out, etc., and reward him with a treat.
4. Staircase Dash
Create a game about running up your stairs to burn energy. Starting at the bottom of the stairs gives your dog the most exercise with the least risk to its joints.
Have your dog sit-stay and throw the toy to the top landing. Keeping your dog in a stay will buildup, so cue “ready, set, go,” perhaps leading by example.
Your dog should descend the stairs at its own pace. Remember that the downhill climb is dangerous, so return slowly. Your dog may want to nap after 10 repetitions.
Only dogs over a year old can do this exercise. Younger dogs’ joints aren’t developed enough to take the impact, so playing this game can cause long-term injury.
This old dog game is great for kids. It promotes running and memorizing quickly, making coming when called fun. A partner is required.
Start with a pocket full of treats and stand on opposite sides of a room. Calling the dog and rewarding it with a treat is repeated. As the game progresses, you and your partner can move to different rooms.
Your dog will get more exercise by running around the house. You can eventually give it treats only every other or third recall and reward it with excited praise or a tug toy to reduce food intake. You can make recall a chase by calling the dog and running away.