Cold days or bad weather can be trying for people with children and high-energy dogs.

When stuck inside, both can develop cabin fever. I remember years ago dealing with two lively children and three spirited Jack Russell terriers. To keep my sanity, I let them play an inside game of hide-and-seek. Together.

Here's how: Find a blanket large enough to cover the child. Attach a leash to the dog and give the kid a squeaky toy or a food treat, depending on what motivates your pet. While holding onto the leash, let the dog watch the child get under the blanket. Next, have the kid squeak the toy and call "come" in an excited voice.

Tell the dog, "go find," and then let go of the leash. As soon as the dog gets to the blanket, pull up the blanket and reward the dog either with the treat or by playing with the toy. Once the dog figures out that "go find" means find the child, have your child hide in a closet.

You can let the dog watch in the beginning of the game so the dog will be successful in finding the kid. Again, have your son or daughter squeak the toy or call the dog, and tell the dog, "go find." Keep up the reward.

Once the dog gets good at this, take the dog out of sight of the closet, and let the dog learn to find the child on its own. Soon you can change to another closet. If the dog goes to the old closet, simply call out to your child to squeak the toy and call the dog. If needed, help the dog at first.

Many dogs can figure out that there are many different hiding places. Soon enough, you simply can unclip the leash, let the dog run off to play the game and take a few minutes to sip your coffee.

There is one caution: Designate any hiding places that are off-limits, such as inside washer or dryers.

For those of you who don't have children but do have an overly energetic dog, you will find a link on my website, for a YouTube video to train a dog to use a treadmill. If you don't own a treadmill and want to get one, buy one wide enough so both of you can walk together.


Swager is a behaviorist and dog trainer who has authored several books and a DVD on separation anxiety.