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10 Ways to Keep a Dog Busy Inside

Learn some ways to avoid boredom in indoor dogs.

Bored dogs can engage in destructive or bad behaviors. This is especially the case for high-energy breeds and those originally bred to do a job. Here are some ways you can help keep your dog mentally stimulated while indoors.

Play Tug-of-War

Tug-of-war is a great game to play with most dogs. It's physical and mental, and lets your dog get out some energy.

Of course, there should be some rules surrounding the game of tug-of-war. Your dog should know he can't touch your skin with his teeth. You can teach that by stopping the play session every time his teeth graze you.

Also, if your dog growls or acts aggressive during the game, you shouldn't play tug-of-war. Check with your veterinarian or a canine behavior specialist to treat the aggressive behavior.

Learn more: "Tug-of-War."

Play Find the Food

This is a great way combat boredom for a dog while he's inside. Take his daily allotment of food and break it into smaller amounts. Then, hide the dishes around the home, so he has to "hunt" for them. Just make sure you count the dishes and gather them up at the end of the day to avoid a lost one eventually going bad.

Do a Training Session

Training sessions are fantastic for fighting boredom, both for your dog and for you. Once your dog knows all the basic commands, you can expand on them, practicing them while there are greater distractions present. You can also turn to teaching tricks.

Clicker training is a great way to teach dogs to follow commands. It uses a clicker, which you click when your dog is doing the right thing. It helps hasten training because you're able to react with the clicker faster than with a treat or praise. Learn more: "Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview."

Make a Mini Obstacle Course

Many dogs love to do agility training, and you can do a mini DIY obstacle course in your home. Just clear out as large of a space as possible and place small obstacles in a circle around the room. It could be a rolled-up towel he needs to jump over or a hula hoop that you've anchored in an upright position for him to jump through.

Then, work on training your dog to do each obstacle using treats and praise. This exercise can be tremendous fun for you and your dog.

Play Hide-and-Seek

For this game, your dog must have a solid sit-stay. You ask your dog to stay, and you go to a different room and hide. Then you release your dog from the stay and have him find you, giving him lots of praise when he does.

If your dog doesn't stay well, you can practice training him to do so for a while before trying hide-and-seek or you can enlist a friend to hold him while you hide.

Use a Puzzle Toy

Puzzle toys can be great for combatting boredom, and many people give them to the dog when they need to be busy doing something else or when the dog will be home alone. There are many types of these toys, and the healthiest thing to stuff them with is part of the dog's daily allotment of kibble. Here are some of the puzzle toys we like:

Do Some Grooming

Hands-on grooming time can be fun and boredom-busting for your dog. Take some time to brush your dog's fur, trim nails, and brush his teeth. The one-on-one time is great for both of you.

Play with Bubbles

Many dogs love to chase bubbles, which can be done inside if the area is large enough that the dog won't be crashing into things. Be sure your dog can't get into the bubble mixture and wipe his face off with water when the game is done.

Do Chores Together

You can teach your dog to do little chores to help you, and he'll think it's a game! For example, teach him to put his toys away into a basket or turn the lights in the rooms you're working in on or off. The sky's the limit on what your dog can learn, so you might as well teach him things that help you get your housework done.

Put on Some DogTV

This is another good one for when your dog has to be alone or your attention is on something else. Some dogs like to watch dog-targeted TV, and this is a channel you can buy that's specifically geared toward keeping dogs interested and engaged.

Learn more: DOGTV: A Great Way to Help Dogs That Are Home Alone All Day

You can also get DVDs specifically meant to entertain dogs, like this one: Dog Sitter DVD.

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