Canine Enrichment: 10 Ways to Enrich Your Dog When It’s Too Hot to Play Outside
While the summer can be a great season for lots of adventures with your dog, sometimes the temperatures get too high. On dangerously hot days, it’s best to keep your pup inside and protected from paw burns and heat exhaustion.
Even though your dog is inside, they still need exercise and enrichment to stay healthy – and out of trouble. Here are 10 ways to enrich your dog inside when it’s too hot to play outside.
1. Food Puzzle Toys
Food puzzle toys are a great staple to have on hand when you need an easy but rewarding enrichment activity for your pup.
These can range in style and difficulty, depending on what your dog enjoys. Many have flaps for your dog to open or levers for them to pull to find the treats.
Load up their favorite food puzzle with treats or even frozen fruit for an enrichment activity that can also keep them cool.
Hide-and-seek is a fun way to bond with your dog while also engaging their problem-solving skills. You can play with multiple people or just by yourself.
Start by putting your pup into a “sit” and telling them to stay. Then you or another member of your household will go and hide. From there, you’ll tell your dog to find the family member.
Your pup will need to use their nose to find the hidden person, which is a great way to engage their brain. Make sure you reward them with tasty treats if they succeed.
3. Trick Training
Trick training isn’t just for impressing your friends and family. It’s also a great enrichment activity and a good way to strengthen you and your dog’s communication skills.
There are so many different tricks you can work on with your dog, from high-fives to more intricate tricks like figure-8s. Provide plenty of high-value treats to make the training experience as positive and fun as possible.
4. Stuffed Kongs and Pupsicles
What better way to beat the heat than with a cold enrichment treat? Fill a popsicle mold with dog-friendly foods like plain yogurt and fruit or stuff a Kong toy. Then, place them in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.
Get creative with your fillings to learn what your dog likes best. Yogurt, peanut butter, or blended fruit make a great base to add in even more toppings before freezing. The lip-licking frozen treats will keep your pup happy and cool them down at the same time.
5. Shell Game
Just like the popular carnival game, you can use the shell game as an enrichment activity with your dog.
Using three cups, place a treat or a small toy under one of them. If your dog has never played the game before, you can make things easy to start by not mixing the cups around. Have your dog guess which cup contains the prize and reward them with a treat if they’re right.
As your dog starts to catch on, you can increase the difficulty by mixing the cups around, like you would in the human shell game.
6. DIY Indoor Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses are so fun for your dog because you can customize them to the activities your dog loves best. They can be small obstacle courses if you have limited space inside your house or as big as you want them to be.
Gather common household items that can be used as obstacles, such as broom handles, boxes, laundry baskets, and bed sheets. You can set up poles to jump over, create tunnels, or use household items like cones for your dog to weave through. Don’t be afraid to get creative and use whatever you have on hand.
7. Indoor Walks
If enrichment activities inside your house aren’t cutting it, taking your dog out for an indoor walk can be a great way for them to experience new sights and sounds.
You can take your dog to the pet store or other businesses that allow dogs inside, like Lowes, Home Depot, and Joann Fabrics. Always call or research ahead of time to make sure a location is dog-friendly before bringing your pup.
These indoor walks help your dog get much-needed exercise while staying out of the heat. The new surroundings also make a great enrichment opportunity, as your dog will get to smell and experience so many new things.
8. “Find it!” Game
“Find it!” is a great nose work game that you can play with your dog at home using their favorite toys or treats. The game encourages your dog to use their sense of smell to track down their lost item which engages their brain and helps them release excess energy.
Start small with your dog by establishing “find it” as the cue. Simply say “find it” and toss a treat or toy into an obvious area. When your dog goes to get the item, reward them. Slowly, your dog will catch onto the game, and you can increase the difficulty.
Hide toys and treats all over your home like under furniture or wrapped in blankets. The more difficult the challenge, the more your dog will need to use their nose to solve the puzzle.
9. Recall Game
Recall is always an important skill to practice, and hot days offer the perfect opportunity. There are a variety of ways that you can train and reinforce recall, but making a game out of it makes it more fun for both you and your pup.
One great game to play is “come and go.” For this, you need a high-value, tasty treat (like sausage or chicken) and then something of lower value, like kibble.
Toss the low-value treat away from you and have your dog go get it. Next, instruct them to come to you. If your dog successfully comes back, reward them with the high-value treat.
10. Snuffle Mats
Snuffle mats are another fun puzzle toy for your dog that puts their nose to the test. These mats are made with lots of loose pieces of fabric, making them perfect for hiding treats. Sprinkle your dog’s favorite treats along the mat and watch their noses go to work!
You can even DIY your own snuffle mats at home using old towels or strips of fleece and a placemat.
Indoor Enrichment Your Dog Will Love
A hot day doesn’t have to stand in the way of your dog’s enrichment time. There are so many exciting games, toys, and activities for you to try with your pup this summer. Don’t be afraid to try a variety of activities to learn what your dog likes best. And remember, the most important part is to have fun!