When a game of fetch isn’t possible or if it’s too cold for a walk, it’s OK to hang up the leash and stay inside. That’s because there are plenty of ways to keep your dog’s brain and nose engaged while at home.

“We’re trying to engage the dog’s brain either mentally or physically,” said Paul Nadeau, the Behavior Services Manager at Potter League for Animals. “We don’t want a bored dog. We want a dog that is getting everything they need.”

What dogs need is specific to their species. Nadeau’s dog, Laika, is familiar with indoor activities.

“When I first got her, she was heartworm positive, so we had to do six months of low exercise,” Nadeau said.

Most low-exercise games can be done inside the house — and fortunately for our pets, that means treats!

Nadeau recommends putting a tasty treat inside a rubber KONG toy. “You can use peanut butter or cream cheese,” he said. “I like to put some dry kibble in there and then cap it off with some peanut butter, and then I love to freeze these. It makes them go a lot slower to consume it.”

Nadeau said another way you can engage your pet is through their nose, using something as simple as toilet paper rolls.

“You can put dry treats inside there,” Nadeau said. “Then what we do is a little of Rickard’s dog-training duck scent. Dogs go nuts for it.”

At the end of the day, you could fall back on some tug of war, or as Nadeau calls it, tug and release.

“I actually sit on my couch on my laptop and play with her for a couple of seconds, ask her to release it, toss it, she goes down the hall, gets it and brings it back,” Nadeau said. “Her reward is to tug more.”

Toys are always a great go-to option while at home. But Nadeau said it’s important to only have a few out at a time, so your dog doesn’t get bored of the same ones.

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