Wrestling, keep-away, and fetch are games my dogs love to play outside. But what do you do when it's -35C (-31F) outside and you've got two frisky dogs on your hands?
Gabe n Arch n I have a few ball games we play indoors. I will stick the ball under a blanket or quilt, and they have to figure out how to get it out. Or, I will march around the house, waving the ball around, and then suddenly, through a nifty slight of hand, the ball is gone, tucked into a laundry basket or an open drawer. The second game has two purposes, really - entertainment and confidence building. I try to put the ball places Arch is scared to go, hoping he learns as he bravely retrieves it that that place (under the ironing board, on the chair) isn't going to fall down on his head or trap him after all.
We also have a few games that are a little more sophisticated. One, I got the idea from youtube. I have an extra-large muffin tin with just 6 cups. I put a small treat (a piece of kibble or a part of cookie) into each cup and then cover each treat with a ball. It's more difficult than it at first appears, as the dogs cannot simply pick up the ball with their mouths. Gabe has learned that the fuzzy balls can be carefully picked up by grasping the fuzz; but overall the ball have to be nosed out or pawed out. This takes each dog perhaps a minute or two.
Last winter, I splurged on a couple Nina Ottenson games. We have the DogBox. This one perplexes Gabe n Arch a little bit. The basic premise is that the dog has to drop something into the top of the box, in order to eject a treat from the bottom. Two wooden "spools" are included; but because Arch is a ball guy, he uses a ball. Any object that fits in the top would work. Both dogs seem to understand that getting the object into the box will eject the treat BUT they are confused about how to get the object into the box in the first place (or, more likely, too excited about the treat to think straight). I keep hoping for an eureka moment, but for the time being, I let Gabe knock the wooden spools off the top of the box with his nose; and I bounce the ball towards Archie, and then steer the box towards him so that he can deposit it as needed. This is the game that takes us the longest. Depending on how many treats you use and how well your dogs "get" the concept of the game, this one can easily last 5 minutes or better.
The other Nina Ottenson game we have is the wooden Tornado. This one has four round pieces of MDF stacked on top of each other, and held together with a central bolt. The top three pieces spin. The bottom three pieces have little compartments carved in them, where treats can be hidden. The dogs need to spin the layers around, to try and figure out how to uncover the compartments. Both dogs love this one BUT (1) I have to hold it down or they would just push it all over the place and (2) dogs with small noses will be able to cheat, as Archie demonstrates time and time again. He is able to fish treats out of the bottom compartment without having to line the layers up correctly (you can see him trying this out in the second picture). Like the muffin tin game, this one takes only a minute or two, as well.