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Indoor Dog Activities for Chilly October Weather

As colder weather is settling in and outdoor activities with your pup may be dwindling, it's the perfect time to explore engaging INDOOR activities that keep your dog active and mentally stimulated.


-Have you considered how you and your dog can make the most of the season indoors? What's your favorite activity to do with your dog when you're together?


Keep these 2 questions in mind as you read the at-home, indoor tips below.


1. DIY Agility Course for Mental and Physical Stimulation


It may sound unusual, but it's an ideal way to keep your dog active and mentally engaged, which is especially important during the winter months. These DIY agility kits are both convenient and easy to store when not in use/require minimal storage space. You can start with a mesh tunnel, which pops up and folds up (in about two seconds) and requires NO tools. These tunnels are very lightweight and can be found for under $50 on Amazon.


You can simply set up a lightweight, DIY agility course in your garage or ideally a larger room inside - around a large table, or even an ottoman. Introducing agility like this promotes your dog's learning and bond with you.


Dogs enjoy learning new skills and commands - making this option very practical.


Imagine your dog gracefully navigating through a tunnel, leaping over hurdles, and maneuvering around swivels in your living space - and by spring, they will be ready to advance their new found agility skills outside!


2. Hide and Seek for Treats - Introducing the "Search" Skill


The art of the "search" skill shifts your dog from reliance of their sight (eyes) to scent (nose-work) instead. Why does it matter? Enticing dogs to use their natural instincts is more challenging and boosts their mental abilities. I personally will always make a dog earn a treat, I discourage freely overtreating.


Fun Fact: In professional dog training, "search" is a skill frequently used in various applications, including narcotics detection and search-and-rescue scenarios. As a certified Master Dog Trainer in this field with lived experience in narcotics detection and man tracking, I can attest that the skills employed in these areas play a significant role in this fun game I teach my clients during our lessons when needed (we go in more detail and break it down in private lessons). Nonetheless, this skill of using nose-work over sight offers a rich opportunity for both mental stimulation and strengthening the bond between you and your dog.


To Begin - Start with presenting the treat (make them sit and stay while you hide it gradually out-of-sight) then come back to your pup and instruct them to go "search." - If your dog is confused, generally walk towards the area of the treat and repeat the new word "search" to help them out. This tactic will help your dog to begin associating what the word "search" should cue.

Navigating to the area of the treat will help your dog understand that they should be "searching." Give lots of verbal praise while they figure out where it is. Don't start this game very challenging so they thoroughly understand this new term "search" first.


-What other skills would you like to teach your dog while strengthening your bond?


3. Indoor Fetch in Your Hallway

Your hallway can serve as an ideal space for indoor fetch, a controlled environment that enhances your dog's recall and obedience. How might you use your home's spaces for productive play with your dog? If a dog needs work on fetch, the winter indoors is a great time to get them to focus in a lower distraction environment than outside. Try it out!


Tip: Indoor fetch can also serve as an effective way to establish boundaries for your dog. It encourages them to focus their energy and enthusiasm within the designated area, promoting obedience commands and recall positively.


4. Interactive Toys and Puzzles

Invest in interactive toys and puzzles designed for dogs, providing mental stimulation as they work for their treats. Seek options like Kong toys, treat-dispensing balls, and puzzle feeders. I personally use slow feeders for my dogs solely for the mental stimulation purpose.


5. Tug of War Fun - With Safety in Mind

Tug of war is a classic bonding game but requires close supervision to prevent accidental ingestion or toy damage. Store tug-of-war toys out of reach when not in use to ensure your dog's safety. Always put these very excitable toys from tug of war up- my tip is in a dog toy box, maybe above the fridge - for when you are NOT playing the tug of war game. especially hear my warning if your dog likes to sooth and chew toys.


As winter progresses, these expert tips will help keep your dog active and mentally sharp indoors. This is also an opportunity to bond and enrich your dog's skills and intelligence. How can you deepen your bond with them while also keeping them physically and mentally active? Share if you'd like!

You will find more dog training insights and advice throughout the winter season here on the blog at www.thetravelingdogtrainer.com.


Happy Friday, all!


Lisa, The Traveling Dog Trainer


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