Going out and exploring the world sometimes isn’t an option – and that’s okay! This could be for any reason, from poor weather conditions to sickness, or maybe you just don’t feel like it.
Either way, there are plenty of things that you can do at home to entertain both you and your puppy, and many of them are helpful.
When you have a puppy, it is crucial to keep them satisfied, both mentally and physically.
They need enough exercise to prevent them from tearing up the house, and enough mental stimulation to make their brains work.
Without one or both of these, you will have a very unhappy puppy on your hands who will be a lot of trouble.
Some breeds are more challenging than others, of course, but they all need exercise and mental stimulation.
From border collies and Belgian malinois to Lhasa apsos and shih tzus, here are 10 fun and helpful things to do at home with your puppy.
10 Fun And Helpful Things To Do At Home With Your Puppy
Before we jump into the good stuff, we would like to remind you of one important thing: puppies need schedules and structure.
While you might like to live life on the edge and not know what your day holds, the same cannot be said for a puppy.
By having a schedule to follow, your puppy will be much less anxious. They should know when they will go out, when to expect food, and everything else in-between.
You will quickly find that when your puppy gets used to a routine they will be much easier to handle, and you can have more fun together.
No matter what your routine is, it is important for there to be training, relaxation, and fun throughout the day.
Even if you are stuck at home for whatever reason, there are things you can do to tick all the boxes. Keep reading to find out 10 great options!
1. Practice Some Obedience Training
Obedience training is a necessity, and it is always good to start young. Sessions can last anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes and will tire your puppy out as much as any walk will.
This will improve your puppy’s skills in a variety of areas, and will mentally stimulate them. By the end of every training session, your puppy will probably be ready for a nap!
You can start teaching your puppy how to heel, and walking etiquette. The best place for this is a hallway, where you can practice the heel position, and also heel turnarounds.
Slowly work your way up to teaching them to heel by furniture and different parts of the house so they know the basics when you can go outside.
2. Sniff Out Treats
Teaching your puppy how to sniff treats is a fun pastime to try out when you are stuck inside. It gets their brain working, and it is adorable beyond belief.
All you need is some kind of treat or food like kibble or something similar, and something to hide it in.
A treat-stuffing toy such as a Kong will be perfect for something like this, but there are other options out there.
You simply need to keep your puppy in their playpen area and let them watch as you “hide” the treats in the Kong, then hide the toy. Let your puppy out of the playpen, and watch them find it!
Be sure to record these moments, because you are definitely going to want to rewatch them later on, or maybe even post them to social media!
3. Reinforce Recall
If your puppy only learns one thing (hopefully they learn plenty), let it be recall. This is the most crucial command and essentially teaches your puppy to come when called.
You need to teach your puppy to come to you in all environments and all kinds of distances.
You cannot go somewhere like a park, or for walks in the countryside without your dog having a good recall. This is for everyone’s safety, but especially your puppy.
If your pup always comes when called, no matter the distance, you are ensuring that you can keep them away from any potential danger and get them to come back to you when needed.
The best place to start this training is at home, where everything is safe and there are fewer distractions.
Begin training in your hallway and call your puppy’s name, followed by “come!”. When they come to you, reward them with a treat, and just keep going.
Doing this with the whole family is a good idea. Everyone can stand in different parts of the house with treats and take turns calling the puppy and saying “come!”.
When it goes to the person who called, they will be rewarded with a treat, and slowly learn the command.
Gradually increase the distance as your puppy gets better at the command. Move outside when the time is right, and go upstairs. Spread it out, and test your puppy’s skills as they get better and better.
4. Start Teaching Your Puppy The “Go Find” Command
Teaching your puppy the “go find” command could come in very handy, and it is a lot of fun. The joy and excitement in your pup’s eyes when they start to get the hang of it are unbeatable.
Doing this is a lot easier than you think, and it is similar to the whole Kong/sniff out treats thing.
Place your puppy in their crate or playpen and find one of their favorite toys. Make sure the toy is one they are obsessed with, or it might not work as well!
Get your puppy to watch you (that shouldn’t be too difficult), and hide the toy in plain sight. Let your puppy out, and excitedly tell them to “go find!”, and act like this is a game of fetch.
When the puppy finds the toy, give them a treat and play with them, then reset them and do it all again!
Before long, they will start to make the association between their toy and the command or game, and they will get the hang of it.
As they get better at this, you can introduce them to different things to “go find!”, and they can retrieve a variety of things. This could serve you well in the long run!
5. Play Tug Of War
Good old tug ‘o war is a good way of getting your puppy to exercise while also having fun. While playing this, you can also teach your puppy the “drop it” command while teaching them how to play “on” and “off”.
This fun game will help the puppy and pet parent bond and have a good time. Make sure you play gently and establish boundaries to make sure everything goes smoothly.
It is important to remember that these puppies are only little, and it’s easy for them to get hurt, so let them be in control of how rough or gentle you play.
You should also make sure that you are using an appropriate toy when playing this game. Get something that isn’t too hard, and that won’t hurt the puppy in any way.
6. Work On That Impulse Control
Puppies like a lot of things, but they love food and… doorways. Their puppy impulse will tell them to dart out of every door they come across, especially if that is a doorway to the great big outside world.
Not only is darting out of doors rude, but it could be very dangerous for them.
Work on their impulse control to keep them safe and make them easier to be around. These are especially important things to consider when they get older, so always start young!
When it comes to food impulse control, you can have your puppy sit in place while you are preparing their meal.
Get them to stay in place while you give them their food. If they move forward to get to the food, lift the bowl back up and reposition them. This might take some time, but it is a crucial kill to nail.
In the beginning, you might want to make use of their crate or a leash to keep them away from the food until you say.
For door darting, you will need to teach them about calm thresholds. This is when you pause at a doorway, and teach the puppy to sit and wait for your command to allow them to go.
If you are walking with your puppy, always make sure that you are the first one to step through the doorway, and that they follow.
7. Play Catch Or Fetch
To begin with, you really don’t need a lot of space to play catch or fetch with a puppy. This will change as they get bigger, but when they are little, the living room is plenty big enough!
When you start playing fetch or catch with a puppy, we would even recommend keeping the pup on a leash.
This might sound off, but doing this will prevent them from getting distracted and wandering off. In turn, this will keep the game going, and they will learn it.
Start with getting your puppy to sit down and get a toy that they love. When they are focused on you, throw the toy a short distance away, and say “fetch!”.
If you have a lazy puppy, you might need to get them energized, so use an excited voice. Hopefully, they will go after the toy, and come back to you when you say their name and “come”.
These kinds of games are fantastic opportunities to improve recall as well as give your puppy physical exercise. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun, so everyone wins and has a good time.
8. Teaching Your Puppy “Place”
When the time comes to relax and unwind, it is a good idea for your puppy to learn how to stay in a fixed place for a certain duration.
This place should be their crate or bed, or somewhere similar that is designated just for them.
Start this with the leash in hand, and be sure to reward them for staying where they are. If they get up and start to wander off, gently guide them back to their spot.
As time goes on, they will get the idea, and you will not have to do so many resets to keep them in place.
It might be fun to always cuddle with your puppy, but it’s important to remember that you both need your own space. Your pup needs to learn its spot in the house and how to relax in it.
9. Help Your Puppy Learn Toy Names
This might seem like a small thing, but helping your puppy to learn the names of their toys can be helpful!
When your puppy learns the names of all their favorite toys, you can use this name with the “go find!” game. They will be able to retrieve all kinds of toys, and later other objects you teach them.
To do this, get a toy your pup really likes, and repeat its name while playing with it. For example, you can simply call a ball “ball”, or you can give toys names.
Maybe you have a blue toy your pappy loves – just call it “blue”! Keep it simple, so that your puppy can learn the names in no time.
Soon enough, you can start using commands like “go find ball” or “go find blue”, and your puppy will go and search for them!
Slowly work your way up to different things, but always keep it simple and easy to understand.
10. Play Problem-Solving And Mentally Stimulating Games
A vague title, we know. What we mean by this is games like snuffle mats, various puzzle games, and food-dispensing toys.
All of these kinds of games reward your puppy when they solve some kind of problem, so it gets their brains working!
Lots of these games involve hiding treats in toys and small compartments for your puppy to sniff out and find.
Some games allow your puppy to open drawers, flip lids, lift cones, or turn knobs with treats hidden inside.
Since they get rewarded with food every time they do it right, this is one game that your puppy will never tire of.
However, that also means that you need to have control over the game and not overdo it! Your puppy probably won’t even realize when they are full if you go on for too long.
Food dispensing toys like Kong are great options. These will keep your pup busy and let them have fun safely.
You can line a Kong with some dog-friendly peanut butter and freeze it to keep them busier for even longer!
Any chew toy will be great for puppies, too. The act of chewing can help to relieve any teething pain and discomfort they are experiencing while also keeping them busy. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!
No matter the weather, there are always things you can do to further your puppy’s learning and skills.
If you are stuck at home, you can reinforce recall, and play all kinds of fun games with your little troublemaker.
Make sure that, no matter how much training you do, there is time to have fun and relax, too. Work hard and play hard. You and your puppy will thank you for balance and structure.
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