This is a game my dachshunds love. Put your dog in a safe spot out of view from the room you want to play in. Hide treats around the room to enable the sniffer your dog was born with to be used as a form of enrichment. Your dog will put his nose to work to find the hidden goodies. You can determine how easy or difficult you want the game to be depending on where you decide to hide them, and how many rooms you include.
Treat Dispensing Toys
I like the gold standard Kong toys, which can be stuffed with an array of things and frozen for a more complex interactive activity. Boiled, mashed yams; plain canned pumpkin or dog food; or even just a smear of peanut butter and banana are all great choices of stuffing. I also like this toy from West Paw that has an area inside for a smear of peanut butter, and it's a bit easier to clean than the Kong. There are also wobbler-style dog toys that dispense small treats or kibble while toppling over and then righting themselves to be pushed over again.
These toys are great fun and a little more complicated than your basic treat stuffer toy. You can always purchase them, like this bone shaped one that I have, from Amazon. My dachshunds love it but it's not particularly suited for a larger dog. An easy, DIY puzzle is just treats hidden under tennis balls in a muffin baking tin.
Practice obedience! Get out some yummy treats, either purchased from my favorite shop, Gracie's, or make your own with the recipes in my hardback cookbook or my digital downloaded version. Get out those "sit", "paw" and "down" commands, and maybe learn a new one. Use these positive principles from Victoria Stillwell.
Build your own lounge room agility course. Use couch cushions to jump over, or add in a collapsible kids tunnel. Use treats to guide your dog through and see how fast they can get. Grab tips on how to set up your own course here. (Don't do this one if your dog is prone to spinal problems or has been diagnosed with IVDD.)
Fetch & Tug
As simple as it sounds, play fetch or tug with a favorite toy. No tug toy? You can braid strips from an old t-shirt in about 5 minutes for an instant toy that's strong and fun for a game of tug.
How about a warm, relaxing bath...for your dog! Massage your favorite dog shampoo deeply into your dog's coat, using your fingers or a shampoo brush. Not only is this deeply relaxing, it also helps to remove loose fur and promotes healthy circulation. Make sure to get in between those toes, and for delicate areas like the face, use an old toothbrush. You can also practice your TTouch techniques, gently massaging away the tension your anxious dog might have.
Set up an area with an attractive background, using a sheet or blanket if necessary, and strike a pose! Using a high value treat, such as bits of chicken, or slices of apple or banana, have your dog sit in a comfortable position and snap away. Check out the 5 top ideas for at home pet photography here.
Practice Using Your Dog Carrier or Crate
OK, so this activity may not rate as high on the ‘fun scale’ as all the others but it involves treats, and is a handy one for you, especially in the event of a future emergency – so essentially it’s win win for both you and your dog! Read tips here on how to introduce your dog to a carrier.