No one likes being stuck inside for long periods of time ― least of all dogs. But where humans can entertain themselves with everything from movie marathons to living room workouts, dogs have a little harder time of it. Mostly they just want to spend time with their human, and don’t like being ignored in favor of Netflix. So how do you keep your dog happy and entertained? Especially pit bull breeds, who are known for their social, but rambunctious personalities?
Pit Bull personalities and moods
It’s almost impossible to resist the perpetual grin of a Pit Bull Terrier. Or an AmStaff, or any of the other breeds that loosely fall under the “pit bull” umbrella. They’re known for being social and protective, despite their less than positive reputation among a lot of people. If there’s one thing they love, it’s spending time with humans. Especially their humans, their family, preferably every waking moment, if possible. But with this comes a demand for attention. You need to make sure your pit bull is entertained and stimulated, so that they don’t get bored.
With all this in mind, you’d think that being stuck at home would be an ideal situation for a pit bull. All they want is to hang out, after all. But there are still a few things to keep in mind ― it’s not all about socializing. First off, so-called pit bull breeds are athletic dogs. They like to run around and play, and might get bored and shred a shoe or two if left to their own devices. You’ll need to get creative if you’re stuck inside for a while.
A lot of these tips work for all dogs, but pit bull breeds are among those who really like to keep busy. A good thing to practice when you’ve got a lot of time on your hands is basic training. Sit, stay, come, roll over ― all are basic tricks and commands every dog should know. But it never hurts to work on it. Or, better yet, make a game out of it, or provide a little more challenge. Maybe teach some new commands, such as calling your dog and stopping them mid-stride and having them sit, before continuing. Maybe string together something almost like choreography, for the two of you to work with. This kind of thing keeps your dog on their toes, requires a little extra brainpower, and they will find it just as exciting and fun as you do.
If you want to provide a different kind of challenge ― for both of you ― you could try teaching your dog hand gestures. As in, replacing each command with a gesture of its own. It can be tricky, but your dog, pit bull or otherwise, will definitely be all tuckered out on the couch after a solid training session or two.
Indoor agility course
Athletic breeds such as pit bulls, and like many dogs with higher requirements in terms of physical and/or mental stimulation, generally enjoy agility. A good agility course provides a physical challenge as well as a need for quick thinking, not to mention good communication between dog and human. That said, this kind of activity can prove challenging without access to a yard, or something. How do you manage to provide obstacles, ramps, see-saws, and tunnels? Well, this is where the always available DIY options come in.
Need a tunnel? Line up some chairs opposite each other, and throw a blanket over them. Actually, boxes or stools or even height will do. It may look a lot like a basic pillow fort, but it works just fine as a tunnel for your dog to run through as part of your indoor agility course. Anything can work as obstacles to jump over, such as a cardboard box, or a mop resting on top of and across two chairs. Use stacks of toilet paper rolls as points for your dog to zigzag between. Use a chair or a small table as a podium onto which your dog can climb. The possibilities are endless, really. Whether you’re dealing with a pit bull, or any other dog breed, this is a great activity for when you’re stuck indoors with your pup.
Tug of war
It’s a sad reminder of the history of pit bulls, but these breeds can have a pretty strong prey drive. This can be specifically entertained through different kinds of activities. A classic game of tug-of-war is one of them. This provides that satisfying bite-play that dogs enjoy, as well as physical effort and socializing. It’s important to keep it under control, though. Any dog should understand a drop it command, and especially more hard-mouthed breeds, such as pit bull breeds. While playing, the dog should be ready to release their grip at a moment’s notice. Even the friendliest dog may get too into the playfighting, and this can have unpleasant consequences for those involved. In other words, don’t underestimate the importance of control, in this case.
With all of that in mind, tug-of-war can be a lot of fun for you and your pup. And aside from discipline and training, an important part of this is the object you’re using as a prize in the competition. It can’t be something too flimsy, lest it be torn apart in a matter of seconds. This is especially true when it comes to bigger or stronger breeds, such as a pit bull. A nice, thick rope might be a good idea. If you’re stuck indoors without one on hand, though, there are plenty of great DIY dog toys you can make. Tie together some old jeans, for example. You’ll have something to tug on back and forth until your dog is too tired to do much else besides sleep.
Braving the outdoors
If possible, going outside is always an ideal option. Either way, your dog will need to go outside for their toilet needs, so a few quick walks a day are very important. If you have a yard, however small, it’s a good idea to let your dog get some fresh air and stretch their legs. Even if some situations may require it, keeping a dog cooped up for too long isn’t sustainable ― even humans can’t manage that for too long. The difference is that a dog is dependent on their human to make sure their needs are met, no matter what.
If you live in an apartment, and/or don’t have access to a yard, running up and down the stairs of your building is another option. It’s enough to just get moving a bit. Your dog, pit bull or otherwise, will be excited by whatever you’re excited by ― make the stairs seem as fun as walks, agility courses, and toys, and your dog will be on board.
It can be rough, being stuck inside for long periods of time. It’s not just about boredom, it’s about feeling trapped and limited, which can be incredibly frustrating and stressful. Your dog feels this, too. Pit bull breeds are some of the most sensitive and attuned to humans, when it comes to something like this. Just like you need to stay active, mentally and physically, so does your dog, pit bull or no. But if you use your imagination, get a little inventive with stuff you’ve got around the house, it doesn’t have to be that difficult.