If you’re one of the many who must now stay home all day in quarantine, you might be wondering what you can do to keep your dog busy during the Covid-19 outbreak. Thankfully, there are quite a few games to play with your dog inside, including a number that can help you keep your kids occupied as well!
Hide and Seek
You simply can’t beat a classic! For this game, you’re going to need a few assistants or a very strong “stay” behavior. If you need help training your dog on their basic behaviors, our Dog Savvy Small Dog Training Made Easy course can get you and your dog on the right path.
With some extra time, this quarantine is a great opportunity to put some time and effort into your pet’s training.
- You will want to begin with one person hiding at a time, and start in a smaller area to help your pup get the hang of things.
- If you have a partner to work with, you will want to have your partner bring the dog into another room or gently cover their eyes (only if the dog is comfortable with this).
Alternately, if you do not have a partner, you can have your dog perform a “down” and a “stay” in an adjacent location, like a hallway.
- Place a treat or two in your pocket and pick a simple hiding spot. Say “OK!” when you’re all ready.
- The partner lets go of the dog, or the “OK!” lets the dog know it’s time to play. If they have difficulty, you can make small sounds to help them find you.
- Particularly for dogs with difficulty playing, make sure you reinforce them when they find you. This will help them learn the game quickly. However, many dogs need no reinforcement and simply become excited upon finding you. For these dogs, praise is entirely appropriate as a reinforcement!
Hide the Treat
My favorite twist on a classic. Hide the treat is quite simple, and doesn’t require a partner or even solid training. The premise is simple, place your dog out of sight, hide a few treats, and let your dog have a field day searching for the treats.
This game will keep you, your dog, and your kids having fun for ages! For best results, use strong-smelling treats and break them into smaller pieces so your dog doesn’t over-eat.
A word of advice before you begin: If you choose perishable foods as your hidden treats, please make sure that you know you hide them all. If your dog doesn’t find all the treats, you don’t want a piece of chicken rotting beneath your couch!
- Just like with hide and seek, we want to start in a small area with easy hiding places. As your dog “gets” the game, you can advance to more difficult hiding places and multiple rooms.
- Place the dog in another room, or even in their crate with a towel over the top so they cannot see where you hide the treats.
- Take an assortment of small treats and hide them in various locations around the room. You might want to leave a few treats out in the open near a hidden treat for first-timers to help them get the hint.
- After hiding your treats, bring your dog back into the room, give them an “OK!” and let them go.
- If they have difficulty getting started, you can lead them to the first few treats to help them figure it out.
Tug and Fetch
When you have a small breed dog (or just a lazy medium to large breed dog) you have the advantage of playing indoor tug and fetch. Now, I would not recommend playing fetch indoors with a German Shepherd who has a strong ball-drive, nor would I recommend letting your small children play fetch in your room filled with expensive vases.
With that said, when played responsibly, a game of tug and fetch can be a great way to get some of that extra energy out while you and your dog are in quarantine.
- You’ll want to choose a designated tug rope. Even with small breeds, pick a rope that is just long enough that you question if your pet can drag it back to you or not. Chances are, they can do so just fine.
- Only use this tug rope when you want to play a structured game of tug and fetch with your dog.
- Begin by enticing your dog to bite the tug rope. You can drag it across the floor, bounce it back and forth, or toss it a short distance away to get your dog interested.
- Once your dog is playing tug with you, you’ll want to ask them to “drop.” If your dog doesn’t know how to drop on cue, you can take a look at the Dog Savvy course or seek some instruction from our dog trainers in our Ask The Trainer.
- After your dog drops the toy, you will want to use your bridge by saying “OK!” Then, you can toss the toy or let them begin tugging again. If you’re interested in how and why bridging is so important, we have a great discussion of the topic in detail in our Monthly Tips Section of the Ask The Trainer.
- Once your dog is motivated and enjoying the game, you’ll want to begin asking them for specific behaviors in between playing. For example, before you toss the tug rope across the room, ask your dog to “sit” and “shake” or give paw.
- By adding different behaviors and commands to your game of tug and fetch, you can help your dog think critically about the game they are playing. Instead of mindlessly leaping about the room, they must pay attention and control themselves if they want to continue playing.
Those games are just a sample of some of the great activities you can do with your dog during this Covid-19 outbreak.
Use this difficult time to continue to connect with your pet and have a little bit of fun while you’re both cooped up. I’m sure your pet is excited to have you home more often, and you can both use this time to polish up their behavior and play some fun indoor games with your dog.