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San Diego Humane Society

Enrichment: Indoor Activities

Being stuck inside can make anyone a little stir-crazy⁠ — including your dog! When you can’t provide your dog with outdoor activity, coming up with some games and activities that work your dog’s mind and senses can give you both a little relief. Here are some recommended activities to keep your dog’s body and brain engaged.

The Indoor Workout: Stick to the fundamentals, like fetch, that can keep your dog interested for a long time. If you live in a house with stairs, play fetch up and down the stairs for an added workout.

Hide-and-Seek: A good game of hide-and-seek will not only entertain your dog, but can provide the stimulation necessary for building reliable recalls. If your dog knows, “Wait,” instruct them to wait in another room while you go hide. If your dog cannot wait, have someone hold them while you hide. When you call your dog to you, they will experience fun mental stimulation while they search for you. Don’t forget to reward your dog with a treat for finding you! 

Training and New Tricks: A day spent indoors is the perfect time to work on obedience commands or even to teach your dog some new tricks. Make time for several short training sessions throughout the day to practice basic obedience and manners to help strengthen behaviors and work your dog’s mind.

There are several ways to teach your dog tricks using positive reinforcement. You can be as creative as you’d like by coming up with your own tricks, but if you need some ideas on new tricks, try a book with “obedience” skills and/or fun tricks:

Puzzle Toys: These toys, also called puzzle feeders, provide enrichment and can sometimes help with behavior concerns such as destructive chewing, separation-related behaviors, puppy chewing and barking. Any dog who spends time alone at home would benefit from having something fun to help pass the time. You will probably have to spend some time teaching your dog how it works, but then you can adjust the difficulty level, which means it will occupy your dog for longer and longer periods of time. Here are some examples of toys and slow feeders that will keep your dog’s nose and mind busy (these are items we have on our wish list for donations):

Scent Games: Treat hunting games can be a great mental enrichment for your dog. Make it easy at first by tossing treats and asking your dog to “find it.” Once they learn this cue, start making it more difficult to find the treats, bones or treat-dispensing toys. Don’t just hide them on the floor — hide them on windowsills, chairs and doorknobs! Avoid hiding treats on tables and other areas where you don’t want your dog. This type of mental activity requires a lot of energy and is sure to keep your dog busy and happy!

Behavior Helpline: Contact our Behavior Team

For behavior questions, please contact our Behavior Helpline either by calling 619-299-7012, ext. 2244, emailing or filling out our Ask a Trainer form. San Diego Humane Society Adopters can fill out the Post Adoption Consultation form to schedule their troubleshooting session. We aim to respond within 7 days, but responses may take up to 2 weeks. Thank you for your patience!

Note: Due to the potential for serious injury, canine and feline aggression are best handled by a professional who specializes in aggressive behaviors. Because phone or email counseling is inadequate for addressing serious behavior concerns, we ask that you contact a qualified professional for help. Please refer to the list of behavior resources here.

Questions About Public Classes

San Diego Humane Society offers training classes and resources to address a variety of needs for companion animals.

Our training philosophy is based on the behavioral science concepts of positive reinforcement. Training your pet using these concepts will not only help them learn new behaviors more quickly, it will also strengthen the bond you share.

Our website includes a current schedule of training classes or call 619-279-5961. 

View Training Classes   Gift a Training Class


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