- Interactive toys
- Working for food
If your dog has a good nose, you can build on this idea – put some of his food in a lidded container or an interactive toy and hide it. When he finds it, open the container for him or let him use the interactive toy himself. Start with easy hiding places (in plain sight or where he can see you hide it) and gradually build up to more difficult locations (hiding it while he is in another room). You can split up his meal into smaller portions so he has several opportunities to search for it.
- Recreational raw bones
I tend to feed beef marrow bones (they have a lot of fat so start slowly), beef ribs (more meat, less fat and the dog may consume some of the bone) and chicken legs (the uncooked bone will be consumed and digested) most frequently. Raw bones may not be a good option for dogs with suppressed immune systems, those on a low protein or low fat diet and those that have had pancreatitis. If you have any concerns, please discuss them with your vet before offering your dog raw bones.
- Modify outdoor games for indoor use
When playing fetch, I roll the ball along the floor rather than throwing it. Practice asking your dog to stay while you roll the ball and only release him after the ball has come to a stop. This will help make your dog’s stay more solid while also teaching him to follow a “dead ball” (one that isn’t moving) and keep him from driving too hard to the ball and knocking over the coffee table in the process. I like to mix things up like rolling the ball so it will bounce off a wall and out of sight into another room. This makes the girls think harder and encourages them to retrieve a ball that is out of sight.
If you have multiple dogs, work on sending each dog independently after their own toy. Send them in opposite directions if possible. This will make it easier for them to determine when it is their turn and reduce the temptation to take off after the other dog’s toy.
Obviously, indoor fetch may never be an option for some dogs due to size or excitement level or if one of your dog resource guards their toy (the enclosed space will exacerbate this issue).
- New toy/recycle an old toy
- Trick training
You can use different targets to achieve different goals. A hand or stick target can be useful in teaching your dog to heel. A disk target is great for training your dog to go out on command (like in agility training) or to go to his place (teaching him to go to a particular spot in the house).
I keep thinking I should teach Pip Squeak to target my cell phone and Nellie my car keys. Maybe they can keep up with them better than I do. If I’m snowed in long enough, I might get around to doing that.
If your dog doesn’t like having his toenails trimmed, work on desensitizing him by making a positive association with touching his feet (pick up his foot, squeeze it slightly, give him a treat and put it down. Work up to building a positive association with the trimmers (trimmers touch my nail, no clip and I get a treat – okay!). Then work up to trimming just one or two nails at a time (following each nail or two with a treat). Wait an hour or two and do a couple more. It may take all day but heck, you’ve got time. How nervous your dog is will determine how quickly you can work.