With the days getting shorter and the weather colder, most of us are spending more time inside. Combined with the COVID-19 lockdowns in some areas, it's really hard to get outside these days. As dog owners, these circumstances have us spending more time than ever with our precious pets. Everyone, pets included, is getting a major case of cabin fever. Over time, this is going to encourage bad behavior to get exercise and attention. To help you get through this, we have compiled a few ways to get your dog active and off his cuddler dog bed. Each is designed to provide safe, fun interaction for both of you.
Find the Treat
Training and just-for-fun aren't the only reasons to give your dog a treat. Instead of asking him to eat the treat out of your hand, try hiding it. This technique is simple: take a small number of treats, then hide them in different places around the room. Once the treats have been hidden, encourage your dog to find the treats. You can do this a few different ways. If your dog is trained to "find it," consider using that command to coax him away from the cuddler dog bed. Tossing one of the treats in front of him before the "find it" will get the game going.
Another way to start "find the treat" is by showing your dog the first treat in the game. Then, put the treat somewhere that he must get up and find it. In this case, he sees the treat and watches you place it somewhere. Don't be silent about your activities: it's important that Fido sees you hide the treat, and you do need to encourage him to go find the treat.
Once the first treat has been found, be sure to praise your dog. Positive feedback is just as important for him psychologically as a yummy treat. Want him to find another one? Use the "find it" command again, or encourage him by moving in the direction of your first treat. Then, step back and let that doggy nose do its magic. After finding all the food, he will have worked off some puppy energy and be ready to curl up on the rug or cuddler dog bed.
Tug of War
Just like people, dogs like to burn off some steam. And as with children, playing rough can be beneficial so long as there are ground rules. According to many veterinarians, tug of war is a safe game so long as a few basic rules are followed. In fact, this kind of game helps build the relationship between you and your dog.
Playing this game safely is relatively simple. First, make sure that you are the party that starts the game. Because this is a rough game, you don't want to reciprocate when the dog brings his favorite tug toy over and demands playtime. Rather, you can either put the toy back down or redirect his puppy's attention. You must always be in control
Secondly, be sure to teach your dog to only touch the toy. When this rule is violated, let go of the toy and quit playing. If it's an accident, you might resume play, but after a couple of violations, it's time to quit for the day. Finally, they need to learn how to drop the toy when you ask. Once the game is over, it's over. Fortunately, if you've done this right, then your dog will be worn out and ready for snuggles or his cuddler dog bed.
Hide and Seek
Dogs are a lot like children: they're curious, focused on their pet parents, and easy to please. They also have excellent senses of smell and hearing, which is why hide and seek is a lot of fun for them. With dogs, the main challenge is getting your furbaby to stay in one place long enough for you to hide from him. Once you get that mastered, having him find you and deliver a face-licking is lots of fun.
One way to deal with the "stay put" factor is to make the game a family affair. Whether you have another adult around or just the kids, these other family members can take turns spending time with the doggie. During that time, the designated person can hide from the dog. Another way to get your dog to stay still until called is by commanding them to "stay." If your pet is well enough trained to stay when you're out of sight, take advantage. Hide and seek is a great way to get him off that cuddler dog bed by yourself. Just have him stay, and then find a nice place to hide. Ideally, this will be in another room.
No matter how you keep your furry friend out of the way, it will eventually be time to get found. This is relatively easy: typically, calling his name and asking him to "come" will be all it takes. Your dog's senses of hearing and smell will soon lead him right to you. Just make sure that he can hear well enough from wherever you hide. Finally, reward him with lots of petting and maybe a treat.
Bring the Toy
Most people think of "fetch" as an outdoor game. However, with modifications, this can be played even in a small apartment. This game is simple. First, get anything fragile out of the way, or use a stuffed toy that can't break anything. Next, toss the toys into corners of the room, and encourage your dog to bring it to you. Experts recommend doing this in a carpeted area to reduce the risk of injury. An added bonus: this game burns off a lot more energy for him than it does for you. Giving him attention is important, and it keeps his weight under control. Best of all, it makes him more ready for cuddles or time in his calming dog bed.