Looking for Things to Do with Your Dog at Home? Try These 7 Activities
Some of our favorite ways to adventure together, indoors and out.
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Are you looking for ways to tire out your favorite pup and keep them from getting bored while stuck at home? Well, good news! Hanging with a dog is one of the best ways to get yourself out of a funk. If you’re used to traveling with your dogs, hiking new trails, driving back roads, or visiting dog-friendly restaurant patios — there is plenty to do with your pup to keep them happy and healthy without venturing too far.
Despite the winter weather (and you’re desire to chill on the couch all day), dogs still need plenty of mental and physical exercise. So, if you’re looking for some creative ways to spend time with your dog, here are a few ideas for things you can do with your pup.
7 Fun Things to Do with Your Dog at Home
1. Teach Your Dog Some New Tricks
You probably already know this, but dogs really love learning new tricks, no matter how well-trained they already are. The best way to teach your pup something new is to commit to practicing short, 15-minute sessions every day.
If your dog hasn’t learned the basics, like sit, stay, down, and come, that’s a good place to start. After that, the sky’s the limit. Teach your pup to stand on a skateboard, crawl through a tunnel, and jump through a hoop. Not only is trick training a stimulating activity when you can’t take your dog for a long walk, but it will turn them into life-long learners.
Use positive reinforcement techniques to help shape your dog’s behavior when it comes to trick training. During the early stages of learning a new skill, reward for approximation and effort. As your dog starts to understand what’s expected, hold back rewards until they do what you ask.
2. Give Your Dog a Spa Day
Who doesn’t love a spa day? Treat your pup to some pampering while you’re stuck at home. Start with a warm bath, a towel dry, and a good brushing, followed by a pedicure.
If you’re new to cutting your dog’s nails, start slow. Teach your dogs to love nail-cutting by doing one nail at a time, followed by a tasty treat. Some dog parents give their dog a Kong stuffed with treats and peanut butter to chew on while they clip but this is too distracting for my dogs and makes them wiggly. Instead, I fill a little bowl with treats, sit on the floor, and ask the dogs to lie next to me. My dogs recognize the nail-clipping bowl, and as soon as they see it, they settle down and put their paws on my lap.
When you’ve finished clipping your dog’s nails, rub some soothing paw wax into their pads and elbows. Follow it all up with a massage. Your pup never had it so good.
3. Go on a Sniffari
Another fun thing to do with your dog is a sniffari. A sniffari is more than just a dog walk; it’s a walk where your dog gets to follow their nose while you follow along with the end of the leash. It’s fun to do scent walks somewhere new, like a local park or trail, but you can also do them right in your backyard. The idea here is to let your dog lead the way, so be prepared to go off course, spend a few minutes at the local pee tree, and visit places you would have never thought to check out.
You should obviously keep your dog away from anything gross or dangerous, but otherwise, it’s fun to let your pup lead the way. If your dog is well-trained, use a long lead for sniffaris, so your dog has a bit more freedom.
4. Do a Photo Shoot
Admit it. You already love taking photos of your dog, so why not plan a photoshoot? This is the perfect activity after those spa treatments when your dog is looking their best. Dress your dog up in a colorful bandana and capture their best side. Selfies work too. Natural outdoor lighting is best if you’re trying to capture a dark-colored dog. If you don’t have your own personal photographer, set your phone or camera on a tripod and use a remote shutter to get the shot.
5. Make Your Dog Some Healthy Treats
There are lots of ways to pamper your pet, but if you haven’t tried making your own DIY dog treats, give it a go. Most pups adore peanut butter. We can’t even open a jar without our dogs running from wherever they are in the house to see if we’re making them something special.
There are plenty of recipes for dog treats available, depending on what you have in your kitchen. Choose from apples, peanut butter, bananas, and even yogurt. Figure out your dog’s favorite fruits and veggies, and there is bound to be a homemade dog treat recipe to try.
6. Play Hide and Seek with Your Dog
Hide and Seek is one of our favorite games to play with the pups on rainy days. To play hide and seek, send your dog to their bed and tell them to stay. Find a place to hide and then give a whistle. Your dog should come running, and when they find you, shower them with kisses and some tasty treats. A good place to hide is behind the shower curtain. One downside is that it’s pretty easy to run out of hiding spots, especially if you live in a small house, as I do. Also, your dog needs to have a pretty good stay for this to work.
Alternatively, you can close your dog in another room while you hide their favorite ball or toy. Once hidden, let them out and ask them, “Where’s your toy?” Some dogs, like my Flynn, will play this one all day. Playing hide and seek indoors or out gives the dogs physical and mental exercise, and is perfect for days when it’s too cold to get our exercise outdoors.
7. Exercise with Your Dog
A daily dog walk is a must in our house, but many dogs would enjoy two or three shorter walks just to get outside. Some days we take a leisurely walk in the woods. On other days, we run the trails or go for a hike with a steep ascent to get our hearts pumping. Flynn’s happiest moments are playing fetch, so we make sure to do some of that too. Exercising is way more fun with a dog or two by your side, and you know what they say — a tired dog is a happy dog.
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Tara is a freelance writer and travel blogger with a passion for outdoor adventures. She is currently a volunteer coordinator for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind puppy raising program and has raised 10 puppies for Guiding Eyes. She is fortunate to live with two retired guide dogs who are always looking for new adventures. Tara currently blogs at Back Road Ramblers where she shares travel tips, adventure destinations, and dog-friendly vacation ideas for the wanderer in everyone.