How to have an indoor play day with a puppy!

Minnesota winters can be rather brutal, then nice, then brutal. This February is a testament to this – teens, 20s, 40, 20s, 30s, teens, 40! (For those who don’t know, 20ish is the average temp for February in Minnesota. Below that is quite common as well.)

With the temps & weather (Tuesday it was 40s & rain, Wednesday it was 20s, snow & loads of wind, high of 18 on Thursday) it meant that Blue & I stayed bunkered down in the house more than we were outside. 

What to do to keep a 7.5 month old puppy entertained?

Time for an indoor play day!

  • Grab the toys!
    Opt for some tug of war, fetch or chase. Bring out toys that aren’t in the regular rotation (they’re new again!) and have tons of fun!

  • Name game!
    Start with a toy your pup enjoys. Point to it, say the toy’s name (corn, ball, raccoon, etc) and when your dog looks at it, reward the behavior (yes or click your clicker). Repeat a couple of times, ending on success. After your dog looks at the toy on cue, see if you can get your pup to engage with the toy when you say the toy’s name. Once that happens consistently, add in one, two and more toys. Repeat the process for each toy with a different name. Show off to your friends when your pup can find “duck” out of all the toys in the bin.

  • Hide & Seek!
    Easiest- you hide, pup finds you. Step up with hiding favorite toys or treats. Help your pup if they don’t understand right off the bat. “Find it” is a great cue to use for this game.

  • Flirt pole or flirt rope!
    For any pup that chases, a flirt pole is a great way to have your pup work to catch the “flirt” while expending a solid amount of energy. A flirt rope is similar, though instead of a pole with a “flirt” on the end, it’s a double ended soft rope with “flirts” on both ends. Not sure how easy they are to find, but made mine! (If you’d like one, I could make you one too!) The biggest thing l don’t like about the flirt pole is once Blue catches the “flirt” the activity turns into tug then drop it before the activity restarts. He’s also good at catching the flirt so it ended up being less about getting him to move & chase. The flirt rope doesn’t have the catch to drop activity. If an end is caught, a game of tug can happen, then the other end is engaged to get him to pursue it (usually resulting in a drop of the first end he catches), making this an ongoing game of chase & catch!

  • A big ol bone!
    Chewing is great for dogs. It helps them burn energy, relieve stress and will occupy most dogs for a couple of hours. Blue loves big smoked bones, Bender loved stuffed shin bones. Certain bones can splinter when chewed, so keep an eye on the bones your pup is chewing. Make sure pieces aren’t small enough to be swallowed whole to avoid choking. Yes bones can also be messy! Other good chew options include antlers, hooves (very stinky), bully sticks, or nylon bones. Avoid rawhide – it can be choked on & doesn’t get digested very well.

  • Make your own game!
    This could be a chase me, I chase you game, the floor is lava, building & destroying a fort. Or play with nontraditional things.  Blue LOVES soda cans, silverware, a metal cuff bracelet and a full slip chain collar as toys – the weirdest toys ever when he’s got a bin full of made for dog ones bwhahaha!

In addition to play, being cooped up indoors for the winter is a good time to work on obedience skills – sit, lay, stay, leave it & so forth – and also work on trick training like hold, bow, spin, speak and many other skills that don’t just make your dog a good dog but a totally awesome dog! Remember, shorter sessions are best, end on a positive note (that could be as simple as a sit depending on the day) and have fun!

Luckily, Blue isn’t a high energy or drive dog, which means a new bone chewed for an hour or so will tucker him out for a solid nap. Playing with the flirt rope tires him out as well (and frequently ignites a bout of the zoomies) and he’s getting better with solo play and self settling when tired. 

Here’s how we play:
– Corn catch & tug. This also involves Blue shaking the corn & beating his sides with it haha!
– Bearable, Racool & Rudolph toys, with Racool being the preferred.
– Flirt rope! Blue chases one end and the other end is dragged & wiggled to get him to pounce. 
– Big big bone!
– Metal cuff & spoon – stay weird Blue!
– Time to nap!

2 thoughts on “How to have an indoor play day with a puppy!”

  1. Pingback: Capturing Images of Dogs at Play - Nancy Kieffer Photography

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