Looking for some easy ways to keep your dog busy and entertained?
Keeping your dog entertained can be a challenge.
The Benefits of Keeping Your Dog Busy
Bored dogs get into trouble. We’re their main source of entertainment, so if we don’t give them stuff to do, they’ll come up with activities of their own — and that’s when we end up with chewed up shoes and curtains.
By playing with your dog a few times a day you can decrease the likelihood of them developing destructive habits such as excessive barking or chewing.
Teach him to say please by sitting
Does your dog come up to you and nudge your hand when they want something? If you don’t find this behavior desirable teach your dog that sitting politely is the key to gaining your attention. Don’t be afraid to teach your dog how to act – without guidance they develop bad manners.
Our dogs look to us for cues all the time, they like to know what’s expected of them. Reward polite behaviors handsomely, with consistency your dog will get into the habit of asking for things in a polite manner.
Work on Impulse control for better manners
Dogs, like children, have to be taught that they can’t always get what they want right away. From a puppy learning bite inhibition to teaching an adult dog to “wait” on command, impulse control keeps our dogs out of trouble and safe.
Brush up on the basic impulse control commands like leave it, wait, stay, settle, and down. These commands are important if your dog ever gets loose or decides to chase after that squirrel.
Teach your Dog to turn on/off the lights
This can come in quite handy when it’s getting late and you find yourself needing some more light and you’re feeling a bit lazy. Instead of having to get up and turn on the light have your dog do it for you. To start with this trick a touch stick or good “touch” it command are handy. If you have a small dog, you might have to improvise to make it possible for your dog to reach the light switch. Don’t attempt this trick if the occasional scratch mark on your wall will bother you.
Teach your Dog to grab his leash
Before we go for a walk, I have my dog go and grab his leash and her harness. It’s not asking much, but it’s enough to keep him focused and busy while I’m getting ready. Before I taught him to go grab those items he’d be spinning around, whining, and jumping while I got everything ready. As a bonus teaching your dog to go fetch their leash or harness is a nice way to get in some extra mental stimulation.
Teach your Dog the “go to” command
Does your dog know how to go to the couch or to his bed? This trick is simple to teach and it’s helpful when you’re making dinner or having guests over. If you tell your dog to go to his spot while you’re making dinner enough times it will become a habit. No dog in the kitchen while cooking means you won’t be finding dog hair in your dinner as often.
Create your own Indoor Doggie obstacle course
Create your own obstacle course inside your home. Have your dog jump over some towels, weave through his toys, and then lay down on a blanket. Use your imagination and come up with a set of obstacles for your dog to follow. Once your dog has learned how to jump over the towels you then move onto the toy weave. Building on prior tricks will keep your dog mentally stimulated and encourages focus.
Try some free shaping games
If you haven’t heard of 101 things to do with a box you’ve been missing out on some fun training opportunities. It’s a great foundation for learning how to practice free shaping techniques, and it only requires a box and a clicker.
The basic principle of shaping games is to encourage our dogs to try something new. They get to make their own decisions and increase their mental and physical flexibility. You start out with a box on the ground and without any cues let your dog investigate and decide what to do.
Shaping can be used with any item, not just a box. Here’s a great video of shape training a dog to crawl under an object.
Master the Basics of obedience training
Does your dog know all of the basic obedience commands? Does he have a reliable recall and stay? Even well-trained dogs need a refresher course now and then to keep them sharp. All dogs should have a reliable sit, down, stay, drop it, and come here. A few quick training sessions (5-10 minutes) each day are a great way to help your dog master the basics, and they’ll help keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Basic & Advanced ObedienceDog Training with Nate Schoemer.
Play the which hand game
If you’ve been thinking about teaching your dog some scent work games this is a great game to get you started. The only thing you’ll need is some dog treats, and if don’t any on hand you can use some chopped up fruits & veggies or make your own homemade dog treats.
How to play the which hand game:
- Place a treat in one of your hands.
- Close your fists and hold them out in front of your dog.
- Let the dog choose which hand it’s in.
- When your dog sniffs or paws the correct hand open it up and give them the treat.
- If he chooses incorrectly don’t discourage him, it takes a few tries to catch on.
- A gentle “touch” command will be helpful.
Teach your Dog a new trick
Does your dog know how to weave through your legs and jump through a hoop? There’s always a new trick you can teach your dog, and trust me when I say teaching your dog how to weave through your legs (training Video from Nate Schoemer) is a lot easier than it sounds.
To help get you started here’s a handy list of 52 tricks to teach your dog with instructions.
Does your dog already know a bunch of tricks? One of the best things about trick training is that there’s always room to improvise and make it more challenging. Once your dog knows a bunch of tricks you can step it up a notch and combine their learned behaviors into brand new tricks.
Teach your Dog the names of their Toys
Have you seen Chaser the Border Collie? She knows over 1,000 words and can pick out any given toy among 800 just by its name. We can’t all be overachievers like Chaser, but we can teach our dogs the names of their toys and make some fun games out of it. (Video)
Start by playing with one specific toy and giving it a name while you do. After some practice & praise your dog will assign that verbal name with the chosen toy. Once your dog has learned that specific toys name you can test their skills by seeing if they can pick it out among their other toys.
Dogs have the ability to learn hundreds of words. Start teaching your dog the names of his toys and play a game of ‘go find pink bear’ with them.
Play a game of find the Treats
Nose work games are one of the easiest ways to tire out your dog. When you teach your dog some basic nose work games such as ‘find the treats’ you’re mentally tiring them out and helping them home in on some of their natural skills. (chopped up carrots are my favorite treat to use for this game)
Grab some treats and have your dog watch as you place them around the room. Give your dog the cue to “find the treats” and encourage your dog to pick them up, remembering to praise them every time they find one. After your confident that your dog understands what “find the treats” means you can make it a bit more challenging. Have them stay in another room as you hide the treats and start hiding them in spots, they have to sniff out such as under a rug.