5 dog enrichment ideas: how to keep a dog entertained at home
Whether you and your dog are stuck inside on a rainy day, or you work at home 5 days a week, it’s always useful to know how to keep them entertained at home.
Here are our top 5 ideas…
Teach them some new tricks
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Whether your dog is a complete beginner or an expert trickster who likes to get their practise, teaching tricks is a great way of keeping them mentally stimulated.
Make use of your leftovers
What do leftover cardboard boxes, empty plastic bottles and used crisp packets have in common? They can all make great entertainment for dogs.
Depending on your dog’s size and physical capabilities, your leftovers can provide endless fun. You could use your old cardboard to make an assault course, or hide treats in there for your dog to find. Likewise, they’ll have a great time shredding an old plastic bottle or crisp packet (tied in a knot).
This could take one of many forms, depending on how creative you feel like being. If your dog is a natural explorer, try simply tossing a handful of small treats across the lawn or your living room – that’ll put their keen sense of smell to the test as they track them down.
If your dog is less keen on wandering, try laying a towel flat on the floor and covering it with small treats. Grab hold of the centre of the towel and twist it into a bundle. It’s then your dog’s mission to sniff out all the treats!
Search and sniff games don’t have to revolve around treats. Try taking one of your dog’s toys, along with something with a strong and recognisable smell such as lavender or sage, and popping them into a tightly sealed container. Once the toy had taken on the strong smell, let your dog play with it as normal. Once they’ve associated the toy with the smell, try hiding it and see how long it takes your dog to sniff it out.
The best thing about playing games with your dog is that games are fun for humans too, and can help strengthen the bond between you. Tug of war is great fun and can easily be played indoors.
Fetch or retrieve-based games might be harder inside than out, but they’re not impossible. You could use your hallway or staircase, for example, or try to teach your dog to catch their ball rather than running after it.
If you’re trapped indoors all day and need to think of great ways to keep your dog entertained, try transforming their traditional ‘mealtimes’. Instead of plonking down their bowl twice a day, measure out their food for the whole day and distribute it in lots of fun ways.
Kong toys or puzzle feeders work well at turning mealtimes into playtime. And if your dog is particularly inquisitive, keep enough of their day’s allowance left over to use for search and sniff-based games… plus rewards too!
Note: The activities listed in this article might replace your dog’s daily exercise in the short-term, such as if you’re ill or if the weather is bad. However, they’re not designed to replace your dog’s walks in the long-term. There’s no substitute for this – dogs need their walks in order to stay fit, healthy and well-socialised.
Need more info?
For more help and advice on keeping your dog entertained at home, have a chat with your local vet.