==> Bad weather? Or dog is ill, injured, handicapped, or old dog? Or you can't go out?

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them out. What a fantastic purpose!

Play indoors with your dog

Indoor Games For Dogs

After Dog Games for outdoors in the last Periodical, this week of course has to follow Indoor Games for dogs. For when the weather is bad, or the winter too cold, or the summer too hot. For when your dog is ill or injured or handicapped or old. And for when you can't go outside, or when you want to stay inside.

Again, this includes free dog games and free puppy games as well. Aim to play dog games like these with your dog every day - because Play builds the best relationship with your dog!

Dog Game Criteria

The Dog Game Criteria or Dog Play Principles are the same as for Outdoor Games shown in the last Periodical. For easier reference, and because they are so important, let's repeat them here:

goal with dog games
  1. The game matches the dog's mental and physical skill and interest
  2. The game benefits the relationship building with the dog
  3. The game reduces the conflict the dog is experiencing in the Pack
  4. The game strengthens our role as accepted Pack leader
  5. The game allows us to finetune the dog's energy state
  6. The game trains Bite Inhibition, both bite temptation and bite reflex
  7. The game exercises both the dog's mind and body (and if we want, ours too!)
  8. The game trains the dog moral values (see How to play)
  9. The game improves the dog's play behavior and play language skill
  10. The game strengthens the dog's senses: particularly see, hear, smell, taste, and feel
  11. The game improves the dog's motor skill
  12. The game is FUN for both, the dog and us!
  13. We plan the game such that our dog is successful the vast majority of the time (>80%)
  14. Where we wish to increase difficulty/complexity, we keep all but one criterion constant
  15. When we notice lack of interest or mental or physical exhaustion of our dog, we stop the game immediately
  16. Play itself is a GREAT reward for all healthy dogs, thus we avoid involving food treats
  17. Instead of directing the dog what to do (training), we let the dog show initiative (play)!
  18. We use no commands at all during play - playing games is about FUN!

=> The more of these game criteria your chosen game meets, the better! Most games we can tailor, such that they meet more game criteria.

Indoor Dog Games

Please note: With a German Shepherd - except if ill, injured, handicapped, or old dog - we cannot purely play indoor dog games (some indeed ask me that), since the prime genetic exercise trait of the GSD is running across meadows.

This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

GSD runningI believe that 3 hours of daily outdoor exercise are a fair lower limit for a German Shepherd dog - two of which should be heavy exercise, ie running around, and one may be plain 'dog walking' (write in the comment section below why you agree or why not).

Still, a LOT of dog games can be played indoors - and the subsequent indoor dog games certainly are great FUN too!

Watch Games

Did you always want to impress friends with a dog that can count? This is a 'dog trick', yes, but as with all tricks, if you play it right, it's pure FUN (for both of you). I don't like the harsh borderline that is drawn between tricks, training, and play, because it leads too many dog owners on the wrong path: Obedience Training. If you consider everything to be FUN with your dog, you will automatically behavior-train your dog.

Also remember what Pat Miller says in her extremely helpful book Play with your dog: "if humans remembered to have as much fun teaching their dogs the 'serious and important' behaviors as we do playing games and teaching tricks, no one would ever know the difference, and our dogs would think 'Heel, sit, stay!' was as much fun as rolling over and jumping through hoops".

Back to how you can play Watch Games with your dog - and here, where your dog playfully learns to count:

dog math
  1. Sit down close to your dog so that (s)he can clearly see (remember what dogs see). Wait for your dog to calm down.
  2. Then hold up one finger (like you'd do with a small child). Signal your dog to SPEAK.
  3. Whenever (s)he barks the wrong number of times, ignore the mistake (as always, show no grudge). Take the finger down, wait a few seconds, and start over again at 1.
  4. When (s)he barks once, demonstratively smile and praise the dog in an excited tone ("GREAAAAT. Gooood dog!").
  5. Calm down, and wait for your dog to calm down.
  6. Next hold up two fingers. Signal your dog to SPEAK. Since (s)he has yet to learn counting(!), (s)he will initially bark randomly again. Proceed as in 3.
  7. When (s)he barks twice, reward your dog like before, see 4. Don't forget step 5.
  8. Continue with the above steps as long as both your dog and you have FUN!

This is the fastest way for your dog to learn to count! :-)

stop rulesJust remember the STOP rules for tricks, training, and play. Immediately stop:

  • when you notice you get stressed, or
  • when your dog loses attention, or
  • when your dog appears confused (leads to stress!)
This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

Benefit of Watch Games:

The dog learns to watch us closely for what we want to show. Remember that dogs watch us closely all the time anyway (dog language is body language). But they watch us from their canine viewpoint: They primarily see what we don't want to show, ie what we show unconcsiously.

While with Watch Games, we get the dog to focus on what we want the dog to see. Now the dog gets the chance to build a mental connection between what we consciously show (here the number of fingers) and the kind of behavior the dog responds with. This mental connection is established over time, because we reward when the dog reacts the way we want (here counts right), and because we don't react at all when the dog doesn't react the way we want.

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  2 Site Comments, ZERO SPAM Add one


    Thanks for this periodical. I am always looking for things to do with Jordan when we are stuck inside. And in the winter, that a lot. We are not afraid of snow around here, but this winter there was so much ice it really limited our long walks, and so there was a lot of pent up energy. I would just let Jordan run full speed all around the house!!! I am definitely getting some of these books! You can only play so much tug!!


      Maureen, first commenter on this, after more than a thousand! :-D

      Here's what we do, not because of ice outside but because it's too hot outside: The tail teaser really is the best toy to exhaust a dog indoors on minimal space! I can't know about Jordan, but Miguel get's totally excited when I go to the pantry to pick up the tail teaser from the shelf. He wants to play that even when he's exhausted from a walk!

      Then late evening we go to an outdoor play court with the Varsity Ball. Again he is not a Solitaire, but I get him exhausted with that ball!

      Thinking of it: He likes to play with most toys, just not alone for long.

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