Dogs are intelligent animals, originally bred to complete certain tasks. Nowadays, they are mostly companions rather than workers. Sometimes, that can leave them unmotivated.
According to dog psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren, the most important stimuli for dogs include:
- Exposure to interesting places and things.
- New and exciting experiences.
- Constant opportunities to learn things and solve problems.
- Investigating and interacting with objects and the environment around them.
If your dog spends his time sitting in the house, all day, without any of the stimuli mentioned above, he is very likely to get bored. And a bored dog's only limitation is their imagination. If you do not give your dog something to do, he will come up with self-employment ideas of his own, which of course, almost always include mischievous behaviors such as loud, ear-aching and excessive barking, chewing your shoes and clothes, digging holes, and demolishing your furniture. Chances are you will not like them. Therefore, keeping your dog mentally stimulated and out of troublesome activities is your responsibility.
But what can you do when it is pouring rain outside, and your pooch with all-day stamina is bored? Keeping your dog entertained or tired can be quite a challenge by itself, even more so when outdoor activities are not an option.
In such cases, you are your dog's primary source of entertainment. Don't worry though, more often than not, coming up with ideas on how to keep your dog busy is more exhausting than actually doing it. There are plenty of fun indoor activities that will keep your dog's mind and body engaged.
Here is a list of some games and activities you and your dog can do together when it's wet outside.
Puzzle Toys, Treat Dispensing Toys and Work-to-Eat Toys
Instead of giving your dog a short-lasting bowl full of tasty kibble, provide him with a toy that requires thinking and maneuvering to get the kibble out. There are many toys like these. They help your dog use his brain and stay mentally stimulated while eating. Therefore, your dog will get mentally tired without even noticing.
Play the Shell Game
The Shell Game is a simple problem-solving game. Let your dog watch you place a treat under one of three cups, then shuffle the cups around and encourage your dog to find the treat. It's mentally stimulating, and it helps your dog work on his problem-solving skills.
Teach Your Dog New Tricks
Teaching your dog to put his toys away in a container can be a lot of fun. You can search the Internet for videos on how to do it. And you can also teach your dog a lot of other tricks since mastering new skills boosts your dog's confidence and gives him more mental stimulation. You don't need to be an expert dog trainer; you'll just follow easy instructions and reward your dog with savory things. Just remember, the objective is to stimulate your dog, so don't worry if your dog doesn't learn anything new.
Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek is a fun game that allows your dog to use his super sniffer and hunting and tracking instincts at the same time. At first, you should let your dog see you hide some food around the room and let him find it. Once he gets the grip of the game, start hiding the food without him watching. Over time, you can replace the food with a toy or even hide yourself.
Doggy Pamper Session
Turning rainy days into spa and pampering days will stimulate your dog and allow you to spend fun and quality time together.
Stretching and massaging your dog leads to improved circulation, a surge of released endorphins, and reduced stiffness. To massage your dog, just apply slight pressure with your hands on tension holding spots or spots your furry friend enjoys.
Play a Game of Tug of War
Tug of War is an excellent mental and physical exercise for your dog and a great teaching tool. For this game, you will need energy and a rope-like toy from the local pet store. However, you can also use old shredded towels, blankets or T-shirts.
We advise you to ask your vet before playing, though. Why? Because your vet will be able to tell you how much strength can you use to pull, and depending on your dog's personality, how often should you let him or her win.
Once you have a pulling toy and know this, the game can start. Always remember to follow the basic rule of this activity, the game stops if your dog's teeth touch your hand.
Teach Your Dog to Chase Bubbles
Most dogs are fascinated by catching bubbles, and there is a wide selection of pet bubble making toys on the market.
At first, your dog may be surprised, but if you encourage and reinforce the behavior, he'll soon realize that he can pop up the bubbles when he touches them. And if he gets a prize for that, he will run and jump after them like crazy. Just be sure to play in a room with enough space.
Dogs require both physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis. The amount of stimulation depends on your dog's breed, age, temperament, activity needs and health condition. Generally, young adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of physical exercise and a good dose of mental stimulation.
Physical activity alone will only tire your dog's body while leaving the mind even more energized. That's why it's important to engage your dog in mental activity as well.
Inadequately mentally stimulated dogs tend to show signs of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, which lead to destructive, restless, hyperactive and attention seeking behavior. Those behaviors are an outlet for the dog's excess of energy.