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Hi, I'm Courtney!

Lesson: Mental Stimulation

Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness for your dog. Learn how to burn your dog's energy while stuck at home.

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If you're anything like me, you might love a pretty checklist that lists every way to burn your dog's energy. If that's you, drop your email and you'll instantly have all the goods to work through! Staying at home with your dog has never been this fun!

I can't even count the amount of times someone has reached out clueless as to what their dogs can be doing during the quarantine. So today, I'm hopefully going to give you the confidence to tackle on each day with your dog with excitement.

Before we dive in, I want to remind people that dogs around the world have been cooped up in the house for extensive times before. Whether that be for bad weather, injuries, or just shitty dog parents, either way the dog has adjusted. So I want to start by saying your dog is going to adjust. They always do and as you can see you just need an adjustment time, too!

Also there are two thing I want you to keep in mind throughout reading or listening to this. As you know, I'm really passionate about dog nutrition. So just a reminder, if you're giving more treats throughout the day because you're stuck at home or doing more training, then make sure to adjust how much food they're getting during mealtimes.

Also, if you have a high energy dog and they're stuck at home for a period of time, avoid high energy dog foods so try for lower carb foods for the meantime.

And last but certainly not least, please encourage independence throughout the day to avoid separation anxiety once you return to work after the quarantine or leave the house. Just make sure you're setting your dog up for success each and every day!

Alright, let's dive in!



  1. Indoor Agility

Set up an agility course in your house with the supplies that you already have on hand. Agility teaches dogs to use their mental energy to figure out how to do things and whether or not they even want to in the first place.

Examples of things you can use around the house:

  • You can literally use a box for dozens of agility activities
  • Chairs, books, boxes along with a broom pole and get them to jump over or crawl under 
  • Blankets, cushions, boxes over the spaces between furniture to make tunnels
  • A mat, tape or paper on the floor for a “pause” area. Great to practice "place"
  • Cones,boxes, to go containers set up for weave poles. Great for agility down a hallway
  • Hula hoops and jump ropes on hand? Get creative!


  1. Games Like Hide & Seek

Not only is this a great way to burn their physical  and mental energy by making them run and sniff around, you can also use this as a way to train them recall.

Have you day practice "place" by staying in one spot while you hide treats, toys, or humans somewhere throughout the house. There are so many variations of this game that can make for a great laugh! Get the kids involved and have some fun. Make sure to always reward them if someone is hiding that way they know they won.

Another great example of this is to hide several treats throughout the house with or without them knowing, and then teach them a command like "find it" when you want them to start searching. I sometimes whisper "find it" right as I'm leaving the house, which makes that moment exciting for my dogs instead of them getting disappointed. They always have no idea it's coming!

Last tip, use sound cues like excited voices when they're getting closer, and calm voices when they move further away. This really helps burn that mental energy!


  1. Indoor Rally Course

This one is one of my favorites! In Rally, a dog and their parent move together through a course made up of 10-20 signs. Each sign, made by you or store bought, has an activity or a skill to perform once you get to that station.

Examples of activities for signs:

  • Having them do a trick like turns, paw, playing dead
  • Practice basic obedience like sit, down, or stay
  • Grabbing an egg, put it on a spoon, hold the spoon with your mouth and leash and walk your dog 10 steps without it falling.
  • google rally ideas or buy pre-made signs

Get creative! All you need to do is mark out a path using tape, cones, books, etc. and then make the signs, set it up and it's go time!


  1. Training (Basic Obedience & Beyond)

It's no secret that training your dog requires brain power from you and your dog. This is a great way to burn mental energy while stuck at home and it's also a great way to ensure your dog comes out better than ever after this quarantine.

Don't just stop at basic obedience, each day level up your training and make it fun

  • Is your dog weird with paper? Let's get some exposure in
  • Always barking at the mailman? Set a timer for their usual appearance and get to training
  • Dog always freaks when they hear a leash jingle? Practice calm, assertive leadership to calm your dog down
  • Always following you around the house? Calm boundaries and encourage independence

Really examine your dog's habits and see where you challenge their usual behavior by fitting in a training session.


  1. Scent Work aka Nose Games

Any way that you can encourage your dog to use their nose is gold. At of all their senses, this is the one that needs to be used the most.

When puppies come out of the womb, they have access to their nose, eyes and then ears. So you want to feed that natural instinct to use the nose over anything else.

A fun way to do that is to make games where your dog is really putting their nose to work.

  • Nose games can be done during meal times, too! Making your dog work for their food is a great way to burn energy and feeds a natural instinct to work for their food. and also it makes meal times last longer. Just hide the kibble around a room for your dog to sniff out. Start easy by hiding treats behind things or underneath something they can easily tip over after sniffing out the food. You can gradually build up to harder places and also use toys, but this is more advanced and will require some extra training.
  • Hide and seek and variations of that game are great nose games as well


  1. Give Them a Job

We all want purpose, amirite? Here are some creative examples of giving your dog a job. You can go basic or you can get fancy. You do you!

  • My girl Neeka took on the job of watching over our chickens and outdoor rabbits
  • Teach them to put away their toys. Go a step further by naming toys specifically
  • Train them to pick up your clothes and put them in the laundry basket (if we're getting fancy)
  • Speaking of fancy, have you seen videos of dogs grabbing beers in the fridge!
  • Okay let's get real.. sheep herding is a great job for working and herding breeds
  • Barn hunting is an option as well


  1. Interactive Games & Activities

Puzzles and toys made for interactive fun are a great way to keep your dog's mind busy. There are tons of options that you can explore below, but one thing I would suggest is buying ones that you can set up in advance and then give when you need to buy yourself some time. Freezing some toys that dispense treats in advance are great ways to extend the game. We need all the tricks we can!


Interactive games also lengthen meal time and provide mental stimulation as your dog works through the puzzle to get their reward (or their meal). 


  1. Teach A New Trick

Most people only do this when they first get a dog, mostly puppies, because they're in the honeymoon phase and spend time on these fun things, but then tricks kind of die down until we see a really impressive dog and we want to start teaching our dog a thing or two. Now is the perfect time!

  • Since I have outdoor animals like chickens, I've trained Neeka to bark when she sees hawks or other predators
  • Playing dead, standing on two paws, spinning in a circle, etc
  • Ringing a bell to go outside
  • Learn specific names for toys, rooms, people, etc
  • High five, paw, shake hands
  • Speak and hush

If you live in a small place, this is one of the best ways to burn mental energy. Buy a book on dog tricks and leave it on your coffee table for easy reminders to try a new one regularly.


      9. Take an Online Class or Virtual Training

Running out of ideas for training? There are now classes you can take online like the ones we offer. The Dog Parent Experience and The Dog Parent Society are great online experiences that give you tons of inspiration for burning your dog's energy.

Want to join our 30 Day Challenge? Get a new activity a day so you always have something to look forward to with your dog!


  1. Use your surroundings

If you're out of work, injured, not able to access new toys or games, stuck in a small home or whatever the situation.. just take full advantage of everything you do have. It's really all about perspective!

  • If you have stairs, run your dog up and down them
  • If you have a pool teach them, to swim and dive for toys
  • If you have a big living room, move the coach and set up a agility course
  • If you have kids, take advantage of their playful side and have them come with with creative games
  • If you have several toys laying around, rotate them and put some away so they get excited for them
  • If you live in an apartment that feels like a closet, use your apartment complex, fenced parking area, etc.
  • If you have a treadmill, train your dog to use it
  • If you have a yard, dig them up a spot for a kiddie pool filled with sand so they have their own digging spot where you can hide bully sticks or toys
  • Get crafty!


  1. Include them in your daily activities

If your stuck at home include your dog as much as you can.

  • During meal times, practice basic obedience by making them place right outside of the kitchen.
  • Read to them
  • Teach them how to put a sock away when you’re doing laundry
  • Have them in the garden with you so they can learn to dig in appropriate areas
  • Let them be apart of a baking process for DIY dog treats

This is a great time to figure out how to include your dog in anything you do around the house. Your dog will never feel more apart of the pack with this kind of inclusion. Just make sure you also have  moments throughout the day when they are encouraged to be independent so separation anxiety doesn't kick in.


As you can see, many of the items on this list burn both mental and physical energy. yay!

These are the best types of activities for any type of dog because you're not only wearing them out, but you're strengthening their mental abilities. This makes quarantine not so bad, eh!?

Last note.. I highly encourage you to hire a pack walker that gets your dog out for an hour or so a day to exercise and socialize them with other dogs. It’s the best way to burn mental and physical energy, and most places have year around pack hikers. I know this because I am one and I have several colleagues that do the same. Your dog will be exposed to new sights, smells, sounds, dogs, people and experiences. All while having to act in a higher standard since they being handled by a professional and not mom or dad. The combination of all of those elements makes for the best mental and physical workout.

Alright pupper people! I hope this helps and also I really hope it inspires you to get crafty and have fun. 

If you want to join our 30 Day Challenge inside of our Dog Parent Society, I would love to see you in there! Community is what we all need when we're stuck at home and luckily we live in a world where virtual communities are at our fingertips! Sign up now and get a new activity to do with your dog for the next 30 days!



Resources Mentioned:

See links throughout post ↑


Courtney's Links:

30 Days of Activities With Your Dog

Courtney's online program The Dog Parent Experience (First 30 days of Dog Parenting)

More episodes of the Thank Dog It's Friday Podcast

Thank Dog It's Friday's Instagram

Dog Squad LA's Instagram & Facebook

Dog Squad LA's Website

Courtney's Personal Instagram


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If you're anything like me, you might love a pretty checklist that lists every way to burn your dog's energy. If that's you, drop your email and you'll instantly have all the goods to work through! Staying at home with your dog has never been this fun!


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Wanna be the best dog parent on the block? Roll with me and you'll have all the tools you need. I created a 30 day program with YOU in mind and by the end our journey together you'll be radiating confidence like a pro. That's a transformation your dog can get behind. Are you ready?

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