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Looking for ways to tire out your favorite pup and keep him from getting bored while stuck at home? Me too! Traveling with my dogs is my all-time favorite way to spend a weekend, especially when we can hike new trails, drive back roads, and visit dog-friendly restaurant patios. Alas, even when I’m working full-time from home, my dogs still need exercise, interaction, and love, and yours do too.
Hanging with my dogs is one of the best ways to get myself out of a funk, and no matter how annoyed I get when they constantly drop toys at my feet when I’m working it, the truth is that I always appreciate their persistence. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without them, especially right now, when we really are stuck at home.
Looking for some creative ways to spend time with your dog during quarentine? Here are some of our favorite ways to adventure with our dogs at home.
Teach Your Dog Some New Tricks
You probably already know this, but dogs really love learning new tricks, no matter how well trained they already are. The best way to teach your pup is to start doing short, 15-minute sessions every day.
If your dog hasn’t learned the basics, like sit, stay, down, and come, that’s a good place to start. After that, the sky’s the limit. Teach your pup to stand on a skateboard, crawl through a tunnel, and jump through a hoop.
There are tons of dog training videos on YouTube that will help you teach your job all kinds of fun things. With our pups, we use positive reinforcement techniques to help shape their behavior and learn new things. AKC has a great article on using rewards to train your dog.
If you really want to have some fun, try setting up an obstacle course in your backyard. Use materials you have on hand – boards, logs, hula hoops, etc., or buy a backyard agility set.
Give Your Dog a S(paw) Day
Who doesn’t love a spa day? Treat your pup to some pampering while you’re stuck at home. Start with a warm bath, a towel dry, and a good brushing, followed by a nail-clipping.
If you’re new to cutting your dog’s nails, start slow. I cut one nail at a time, followed by a tasty treat. I know some dog owners who give their dog a Kong stuffed with treats and peanut butter to chew on while they clip. This seems to distract my dogs and make them wiggly. I have a little bowl of treats that I use for nail clipping, and when they see it, they settle right down with their paws in my lap.
Go on a Snifari
A snifari is more than just a dog walk, it’s a walk where your dog gets to follow his nose while you follow along with the end of the leash. It’s fun to do snifaris somewhere new, like a local park or trail, but you can also do them right in the backyard. The idea here is to let your dog lead the way, so be prepared to go off course, spend a few minutes at the local pee-tree, and visit places you would have never thought to check out.
You should obviously keep your dog away from anything gross or dangerous, but otherwise, it’s fun to let your pup lead the way. We use a long lead for snifaris, so our dogs have a bit more freedom.
Have a Doggie Photo Shoot
Admit it. You already love taking photos of your dog, so why not plan a doggie photo shoot? This is the perfect activity after those spa treatments when your dog is looking his best. Dress your dog up in a colorful bandana and capture his best side. Selfies work too!
We’ve got black dogs right now and they’re notoriously hard to get good photos of. Natural outdoor lighting is best if you’re trying to capture a dark-colored dog.
Make Your Dog Some Healthy Treats
There are lots of ways to pamper your pet while stuck at home, and since everyone seems to be baking up a storm, why not invest some of that creative energy into cooking for your dog?
Our pups adore peanut butter. We can’t even open a jar without them running from wherever they are in the house to see if we’re making them something special. We’ve tried a bunch of different recipes, but so far these peanut butter biscuits from King Arthur Flour are their favorite. They may not look the best, but they’re Flynn and Malinda approved!
Play Hide and Seek with Your Dog
This is one of our favorite games to play with the pups on rainy days, and we’ve been doing it a lot while stuck at home as well. We’ve got two variations that we play, and the dogs love them both.
In the first, I send the dogs to their beds and tell them to stay. I find a place to hide and then give a whistle. The dogs come running, and when they find me, they shower me with dog kisses and I give them some tasty treats. My favorite place to hide is behind the shower curtain. The downside to this version is that it’s pretty easy to run out of hiding spots. Also, your dog needs to have a pretty good stay.
The next one is easier because I lock the dogs in the mudroom so I can hide their favorite ball or toy. Once I’ve hidden it, I let them out and ask them, “Where’s your toy?” Flynn will play this one all day. Malinda, who is still young, just follows Flynn around and then gets really excited when he finds the toy.
Playing hide and seek indoors or out gives the dogs physical and mental exercise.
Exercise with Your Dog
A daily dog walk is a must in our house, but since we’ve been stuck at home, we’ve been taking two or three shorter walks just to get outside. It helps that it’s May (finally!). The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming. Exercising outdoors with the dogs makes me forget that we’re living through a pandemic.
Some days we take a leisurely walk in the woods. Other days, we run the trails or go for a hike with a steep accent to get the heart pumping. Flynn’s happiest moments are playing fetch, so we make sure to do some of that too. And Malinda, she’s all about swimming, so we try to find water whenever it’s warm enough out.
Exercising is way more fun with a dog or two by your side, and you know what they say – a tired dog is a happy dog.
Want to read more about our favorite dog-friendly adventures? Read these next!
- The Complete Guide to Paddling with Your Dog
- Everything You Need to Know about Skiing and Snowshoeing with Dogs
- Summer Adventures are Better with Dogs
- Does Your Dog Deserve a Road Trip?
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