Here are some games and homemade toys that can help provide your dog with enrichment and exercise. You probably already have all the items needed and you won’t have to leave your house:
You will need: (1) A chew treat such as a rawhide, pigs ear, marrow bone, or frozen Kong. (2) A paper grocery bag or sheets of newspaper (3) Empty food packaging such as a cereal or pasta box
1. Wrap your treat in the paper bag or newspaper
2. Roll it up so there are several layers covering it
3. Stuff it in the box and tuck the box flaps to close them
4. Ask your dog to Sit, and hand him his Busy Bomb
5. Let him rip through all the layers of cardboard and paper to get the prize inside. (stay with your dog to make sure he is not eating any of the paper or cardboard).
6. Once he gets to the prize in the center, he will settle down for a nice chew
Tip: If he’s not sure what to do with the box, open the end and tear the paper a little to show him there is something inside.
1. Take a savory treat such as cheese or Vienna Sausage and cut it into pieces the size of a pea. You’ll need about 20 pieces
2. Put your dog out of sight
3. Hide the treats in one room of your house. Keep hiding spots easy. Place treats on the floor near the legs of tables and chairs.
4. Bring your dog into the room and tell him “Go Search.” Point enthusiastically at the first visible treat to get him moving. Help him a little, but don’t show him where all the treats are. Make him use his nose to find them.
5. Once he has found all the treats, repeat the entire process 3 or 4 times. After several repetitions, your dog will have gotten a great mental workout and mental exercise can be as tiring as physical exercise
Tip: Get the kids involved by letting them hide the treats
Thing in a Sock
Find an old sock that you don’t want. Stuff it with something: an empty water bottle, a tennis ball, a spikey dryer ball, another rolled up sock. Let your dog play with it. When he destroys it, make another. For added fun, tie a long rope to your Sock Thing and drag it through the grass. Watch your dog chase and pounce on it. Make the Thing leap up into the air and make your dog jump up to catch it.
Tip: Tube socks work well for this because they are long enough that you can also tie a know in the top of the sock to keep the Thing inside for longer
Take a dishtowel and roll it up lengthwise. Tie it into a knot around itself. Make the Towel Knot wiggle and flap by shaking it along the ground. Your dog will like the flappy ends and enjoy sinking his teeth into the soft center knot. For more fun, dip the towel in water or chicken broth and wring out the excess. Freeze it solid before giving to your dog. Teething puppies especially will like sinking their teeth into the cool fabric. Always stay with your pup to make sure he’s not consuming any of the towel.
Tip: This works well with a thin towel, such as a tea towel or linen dishtowel.
Bobbing for Hot Dogs
Fill a shallow pool or large pan with water. Cut up some hot dog slices and float them on the water. Encourage your dog to get them.
Tip: You can also try floating apple slices, tennis balls, or ice cubes
Bonus Game: If you have kids, you probably have Bubbles somewhere in your house or garage. Did you know many dogs enjoy chasing bubbles? Give it a try and see if your dog likes it!