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At Home Activities for your Dog

Sometimes coming up with things to do for your dogs can be a challenge. Either they go through games too quick or you are just cycling through the same toys over and over and can sense your dog starting to get a little bored.

Here is a whole list of different activities you can try out indoor and outdoors to add a little spice to your dogs life!

DIY Food Based

Towel Roll-ups

Everyone has a towel at home! Place a towel on the ground, measure out your dog’s usual meal kibble, spread the kibble out on the towel, and then roll up the towel. Your dog will now have to unroll the towel to get the food. To increase the level of difficulty, tie the towel in a knot so your dog has to untie the towel and unroll it to get the food out.

T-Shirt Toy

Do you have cotton t-shirts lying around that you don’t want or use? Turn them into dog toys! Cut strips of the t-shirt, tie the strips together at the end, and then braid it. Stuff pieces of your dog’s kibble into the braid. You can also change up the toy by making the braid bigger, longer, different shaped, or whatever you’d like to do!

Scavenger Hunt

  • Set up a scavenger hunt so your pup can put their powerful nose to work. Hide treats around a room in partial view, or even in cardboard boxes, empty paper towels or toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes or egg cartons, to be discovered. If you have a yard, simply toss your dog’s kibble in the grass for him to search for his meal.

Egg Carton

Take your dog’s meal and fill the egg slots with a few pieces each, close the box, and voila, instant dog enrichment game!

Once your dog understands the game, here are a few ways you can make it more challenging:

  • Hide the egg carton and ask your dog to find it

  • Put the egg carton inside of your busy box (see below)

  • Tie the egg carton together with ribbon (make sure it’s something your dog won’t ingest)

Cardboard Box Game

This one is another favorite enrichment activity for dogs. This enrichment activity couldn’t be simpler. Ready?

Take the box, toss in a handful of your dog’s food, seal up the box so it doesn’t open on it’s own and let your dog go to town!

The bonus of this game is that it not only works as scentwork, but it also gives dogs a safe rip and tear outlet. Once he’s fished out all of the treats, Sitka will spend the next several minutes just ripping up the cardboard.

I love getting involved with this part by taking big pieces and playing with Sitka to help him rip and tear each piece. Just be mindful of your fingers!

Yes, it’s messy to clean up afterward, but it’s worth it to see how much fun your dog has with this enrichment activity.

Cardboard boxes have infinite possibilities for enrichment. Here are a few more ways you can get creative:

  • Crumple up paper inside the box so your dog has to root around

  • Toss in water bottles

  • Add treats to treat dispensing toys and put those inside the box

  • Put a towel or egg carton inside the box

  • Add multiple boxes inside the box

Water Bottle Treat Dispenser

If you drink bottled water, keep those bottles and use them as a fun DIY enrichment activity.

Simply fill them up with some of your dog’s food, seal the lid, and let your dog have at it.

If your dog’s food is on the larger side, you can leave the bottle unsealed and then it becomes a treat dispensing toy. You can also use an exacto knife to cut holes in the sides of the water bottle.

Toilet Paper Rolls

Don’t toss that empty toilet paper roll! Save it for your dog. (paper towel rolls work great, as well).

Simply cut 4-6 slits into each end, fold down one end, toss in a handful of food, then fold up the other end. Instant dog toy!

You can hide these around the house and ask your dog to search for them to create more of a challenge. They’re also great to toss inside cardboard boxes.

Always supervise your dog with any ingestible items, like plastic and cardboard. Make sure that they have a good “out” command and remove the toy once they have eaten all of the treats or start to engage in chewing behavior.

Non-Food Based

Hol-ee Roller and Fleece

If your dog loves to destroy things, this is the game for them! Use a Hol-ee Roller toy and cut up strips of fleece fabric. Stuff the strips into the Hol-ee Roller and give it to your dog to pull out pieces of fleece (of course- monitor them to make sure they don’t eat anything they shouldn’t). This allows them to be destructive but in a controlled way. If your dog isn’t interested at first or doesn’t understand right away, you can put pieces of food in the fleece and toy so your dog will have to dig out the food.

Obstacle Course

Create an obstacle course in the living room or backyard! Find different things your dog has to walk over, walk around, climb, etc…whatever will force them to slowly maneuver their way through!

Tug Toy Station

Some stations are extremely simple, involving nothing more than a tug toy attached to the wall with a carabiner and a sturdy hook. Dogs who love to tug often do best if the toy is a little stretchy to compensate for the fact nobody is on the other end giving it life and motion.

***The toy of course should be safe - there should be no chance of your dog choking on it, becoming entangled in it, or shredding it.

Batting Toy Station

A related activity station is for dogs who like to bat at toys rather than tug at them. As long as the dog won’t become entangled or attempt to ingest it this station can occupy dogs who love to use their paws in play. Toys with multiple hanging parts often appeal to dogs who like to play this way.

Toy Basket

This is a great activity station, but for most dogs, it’s only appealing if the contents change frequently. To maintain your dog’s interest, rotate toys in and out and add new ones regularly. That way your dog will never know which toys will be available on a given day. If your dog has a couple favorites make sure they are always on hand.

How To Teach Your Dog to Engage With an Activity Station

  1. Don’t expect dogs to automatically be interested in an activity station just because you’ve set them up. Dogs do need to be taught what to do even when it comes to playing with some toys, and understand that the stations have entertainment value before they will engage on their own.

  2. Dogs need specific training for each type of activity station, but some general guidelines apply:

  3. Introduce your dog to one new station at a time.

  4. Work step-by-step. Don’t expect your dog to go immediately from expressing some interest to full engagement.

  5. Do what you can to make the station enticing by choosing equipment wisely or applying peanut butter /treats as appropriate.

Activity stations can be antidotes to the boredom dogs may experience when being home alone or during slow times of the day. Providing them with something constructive to do can improve their quality of life.

If you are needing any further help with your pets reach out to us here

-The Muddy Paws Team

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