Even when it’s too cold to do much outdoors, you can create challenging activities for your dog to do inside your home. You can’t go wrong with scent games, as they are naturally fun for any dog and can even carry behavioral benefits. On bad-weather days, scent games are the perfect way to break up the monotony of being cooped up indoors. If you have an elderly or injured dog who spends most of his time inside, scent games provide a mental and physical challenge, but you don’t need to worry about overexertion. These activities can also help active dogs burn energy in a small space without getting overly amped up.
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Pick a Hand
This simple game involves holding out both your fists, one which contains a treat. Then you have the dog guess which hand holds the food. Here are the steps for Pick a Hand.
Find Treats in a Blanket
Find It games can provide several solid minutes of fun for your dog. You can use either treats or his dry food. For this game, you’ll need an old towel, blanket, or sheet to hide the food.
Find Treats in a Room
Similar to Find Treat in a Blanket, this game has you sprinkle treats or pieces of dry food in a small room, which your dog then finds. (Think a bathroom-sized room at first.) Remember that the goal is not to trick or frustrate your dog. Keep the food in easily accessible places, and make sure your dog isn’t struggling.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an accomplished author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY. Her books, articles, and videos cover everything from house-training to leash aggression.