If it's simply too hot for those twice daily walks and you have to miss a day or two occasionally, you may be looking for some inspiration for some less active games to play indoors with your dog that are still great fun.
If you ever have to skip a walk, it is important to give your dog some mental stimulation to make up for the lack of walkies. In the winter too, if the weather is really bad some days and you both need to stay warm at home, you'll need some indoor game ideas.
Even when my dogs are getting their full quota of walks, I still play lots of interactive games with them. I don't think you can beat it for mental stimulation, which is just as important as physical exercise. Games are also great for bonding. What better than some special time together solving a puzzle, playing with toys and enjoying each others company.
I make lots of games up for my dogs, from treats scrunched up in newspaper to running around the house playing hide and seek. If I have an empty box it instantly becomes a new puzzle for my dogs to solve or rip to shreds, lol.
The trouble is, we all have our limits when it comes to being inventive and that is when I turn to treats toys and interactive games for my dogs that have been made by people who know how to entertain our dogs, from the Forrest Gumps to the Albert Einsteins.
I have two types of toy in my arsenal for entertaining my dogs.
These are great for playing alone, when you need your dog to entertain themselves for a while. I fill the toys up and leave the dogs to enjoy them. Great for when I am busy. A firm favourite in our house is the Hol-ee Dog Treat Ball which they push around and the treats come out. The rubbery cage around the outside means they can easily pick it up and move it about, especially if it goes under furniture, into corners etc. My dogs never tire of this toy. They can be a wee bit noisy / clunky if the dog really goes for it, but are still quieter than those hard plastic treat balls you can get and these are also much easier for the dog to pick up, as mentioned. A real winner.
Other toys my dogs love to push and chase around are the Orbee-Tuff Mazee Ball and Orbee-Tuff Snoop. Pop the treats in and let your dog enjoy the game. My house is quite often a flurry of activity, with all these toys going at once. Yay. All the Orbee-Tuff toys are durable yet flexible, with a minty infusion. Totally irresistible to your dog and quiet for you. No more clunking, smashing and bashing of the toy around your house. Mazee and Snoop are soft, surprisingly squashy and lots of fun.
Of these two I would give Mazee a difficulty level of easy and Snoop can be made easy, medium or difficult. Pop Snoop inside out for a easy treat game, pop the insides back in for a medium challenge and add a Nook to the mix to make it really tricky.
For a little less running about, try Orbee-Tuff Fruit & Veg. A nice, easy yet fun treat toy with an irresistible texture and minty taste. Even without treats popped or stuffed inside, they are minty, bouncy fun.
Another favourite when I need them to sit quietly and play is the Treat Pods on a Rope toy. Fill the pods up and make them as tight or loose as you think your dog can handle and leave them to quietly entertain themselves. If your dog is a rope enthusiast, this toy also comes on a chicken flavoured pole rather than rope - please see Chicken Treat Pod.
You can't beat a bit of one on one time with your dog and mental stimulation is so important and rewarding for them. It is just as important as physical exercise yet so often neglected. My dogs love to solve puzzles and the more you play puzzle toys with your dog the more their abilities increase. Swedish dog trainer, Nina Ottosson, is the master when it comes to designing puzzle toys for dogs. Each toy in the range has been given a difficulty level, so you can choose one that suits your dog's ability. Well worth a look.
Another toy my dogs love is the JW Treat Tower. A cross between a treat toy and interactive toy, your dog may need to do some learning first before they get the hang of this fun and rewarding challenge. Once they understand how it works, they happily entertain themselves, wobbling the tower to get the treats out. And what I love about this one is that each layer inside can be adjusted to make the holes inside line up (easier) or out of alignment (for more of a challenge).
I use a number of different treats in the toys mentioned above but an all round favourite is Coachies Training Treats. They are small and not greasy or sticky, so they don't get stuck in the toys. They also smell pretty strong, which drives my dogs wild. A treat toy or interactive game is all the better if the prize inside is shouting to be found, lol.
If you are worried about your dog eating too many treats, why not put a portion of their meal in the toys and games, if they eat kibble. That reminds me of one other product you may like. It was invented mainly to slow down a dog's eating speed but also makes the perfect meal time game. Check out Green Slow Dog Feeder.