Looking for some fun activities to keep your dog entertained at home?
On rainy days when you’re stuck inside or times like this when many of us are self-isolating because of a global pandemic, it can be super difficult to keep your pooch entertained.
Space might be limited and going beyond the garden gate might not be possible 24/7. So, how can you help your dog burn off energy and have fun with them indoors?
In my previous blog post (and episode 101 of the Enlightened By Dogs podcast), I revealed one of my favorite partnership-friendly games that you can play with your dog when you are stuck inside.
Today, I’m going to share another fantastic game with you that’s perfect for indoors.
But…before we dive into that special game, I want to share some partnership tips to help you and your dog feel calm and content together.
Your dog knows more than you think!
Many people underestimate just how intelligent their dogs are. They assume intelligence is determined by how many tricks a dog can perform or how well they listen to commands.
That’s not the type of intelligence I’m talking about. A dog’s intelligence runs deeper than tricks and commands. Our dogs are deeply attuned to us physically, emotionally, and mentally. They’re keen observers. They notice everything and they feel everything.
How many times have you noticed your dog watching you as you’re just doing everyday things around the house? It’s almost as if they’re trying to figure something out, right? Maybe there was a time in your life when you were emotional, and your dog was there to comfort and support you? This is because dogs are so good at observing us that they can tell when you’re happy, sad, stressed, excited, or anxious, etc.
By teaching ourselves to become aware of what we’re communicating with our dogs, we can build the bond between us and our best friend. Being able to objectively observe our own body language and emotions is a giant step toward helping ourselves and our dogs.
Your dog can become the attentive, responsive and responsible partner you dream of as a dog parent. But it all starts with becoming more observant of ourselves and establishing a common language between you and our dog. Once a common language has been established, your bond will grow deeper, and you’ll step into the partnership lifestyle I teach inside the Brilliant Partners Academy.
How to be a Zen Master
If you want to become a Zen Master and learn to live in peace and harmony with your dog (you know, most of the time), here’s what you need to do….
Self-observation – Are you carrying tension in your body? Are your shoulders tense? Are you clenching your jaw? Are your toes curled up? If so, try to relax those areas. Drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, and relax your toes.
Breathing – What is your breathing like? Are you taking shallow breaths? Or, are they rapid and short? Start to breathe intentionally and transition yourself into deep breathing. This will help to relax your mind and body.
Emotions – What emotional state are you in right now? Do you feel worried, stressed, or anxious? Or, maybe you’re feeling happy and excited? Observe your emotional state and if you need to get back to your center (or balance).
Focus on what makes you happy
Bringing yourself back to balance requires intentional effort on your part. Listen to your voice when you’re speaking. Are you talking in a high-pitched, animated type of way? Do you sound angry or frightened? The way you speak and how you sound as you speak is something that your dog will pick up on. So, just be mindful of that and listen to how you sound when you speak.
If you find yourself moving further and further away from your center, don’t worry. You can get back to center, so try not to panic. In all of my years doing this, I have yet to find someone who has strayed so far from their center that they can never come back. You CAN achieve balance again and this is how you can do it….
Find something that makes you happy
That’s it. Find something that makes you feel happy and focus on it. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’ve gone ahead and located your dog. In which case, give them a great big hug, bury your head in their fluffy neck and cherish the moment. It’s amazing how much our dogs can brighten our days, lift our spirits, and make us feel happy.
When you’re feeling safe, calm, and happy, it helps your dog to feel the same way. It’s a cycle of love, patience, trust, and partnership.
I hope that these steps help you to get back to your center and feel calmer and more relaxed, even when you’re not. This is what I do with my dogs and with everything that’s been going on lately, I’ve found myself seeking my dogs out for comfort and friendship a lot more. And they, being the incredible dogs that they are, are always willing to return their love and friendship back to me and that’s how I’m able to get back to balance, even when my whole world is upside down.
Alright, let’s get back to that game I mentioned at the top of this post, shall we?
Play hide and seek with your dog!
If you’re spending more time indoors with your dog, hide and seek is a great game to help develop a partnership relationship with your dog and have a lot of fun at the same time.
First, let me just say that hide and seek isn’t just for kids. I love this game and so do my dogs. I mean, they really love it. I love this game because not only is it so much fun, but it teaches dogs to be more attentive to you. With practice, they’ll learn to be responsible for keeping you in their sight which is an important life skill, wouldn’t you agree?
I play this game frequently with my dogs and sometimes, I do it without warning! We could be in the house chilling out when suddenly I disappear behind a door and my dogs prance about the house and search for me like doggy detectives.
When they find me, their tails swoosh back and forth and they’re so proud of finding me. This game just puts me in an instant good mood because I love playing with my dogs. It’s something that I suggest all dog parents try with their dogs and you can play this game at home or in the garden!
5 steps to teach your dog to play hide and seek
Step 1 – The first step is to make yourself disappear. Let’s say you’re headed to the bathroom and then suddenly, you slip behind the bathroom door (leaving it ajar) and hold completely still.
Listen for the tip taps of your dog’s paws as they trot closer and closer searching for you. If your dog doesn’t come looking for you, make a sound such as a whistle or knock the door you’re hiding behind. It’s okay to give your dog hints to help them out and when they find you, run out of your hiding place and celebrate!
Step 2 – Next, wait until your dog is distracted. Maybe they’ll run off to grab a toy before you sit back down on the couch because they want to keep playing with you. Once they’re distracted, it’s time for you to hide again. Pick a new hiding spot if you can. Maybe duck behind a chair, behind the curtain, or hug a wall. Wait for your dog to find you. If they give up too soon, give them a fun hint until they uncover your hiding spot!
Step 3 – After a while, it gets harder to get away from your dog. This is a sign that you need a distraction. A great one is to throw a toy and while they’re running off to find it, head in the opposite direction and hide quickly!
Step 4 – Up the ante by introducing another player (dun dun dun!). Now, your dog must find not one, but two people or even more than that. While one of you is hiding, the other can invite the dog to “find John.” This helps your dog to learn everyone’s names too, which is an added bonus of this game! When it’s your turn to hide, make sure the other player(s) repeats the process!
Step 5 – As your dog gets better at hide and seek, you can move the game to multiple levels of your house. You can hide in trickier places and it is great recall practice for getting your dog to actually want to come to you!
I hope that you find this game helpful and it helps you to build your partnership lifestyle with your dog while having fun at the same time!
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrolment!
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 102, which you can listen to here.
Watch a short video trailer of the episode below: