Post Surgery Dog Games & Activities

Post Surgery Dog Games & Activities

You have finally digested the fact that your fur-baby is having surgery. You’ve figured out how to pay the bill, prepared your home to accommodate a post-surgery dog and you’re ready to care for your dog during recovery.

But, have you thought about how you will keep your active dog happy, quiet, and calm at home during the weeks she’s in recovery?

If you have an active dog, this thought has probably already occurred to you: “How am I going to keep this dog quiet and calm for 4-16 weeks while she recovers?”

If you are like most people, your immediate response is “It isn’t possible!” Your next realization is likely that your dog is going to be expressing that boredom with boredom response behaviors such as chronic barking, licking, jumping, whining, destruction or depression.

Mental stimulation is just as rewarding to a dog as physical exercise and you can keep your dog’s mind occupied while she recovers from surgery. The good news is that there are hundreds of dog games and activities that you can do with your pet while she recovers.

Below are a few things we did whilst our Cherry recovered from her spay, it kept her busy and out of trouble while she rested:

  • Replaced her food bowl with food release products – we used her Kong and also a snuffle mat which was great for her kibble and made meal times interesting and fun.
  • Gave her pet a raw bone (which was approved first by our vet) – Cherry spent hours gnawing away at hers! (Supervised, of course!).
  • Introduced new toys – we brought around five new toys of different shapes and textures, and then Introduced them to her one at a time. Rotating some new toys helped to keep her interested. We removed the first new toy on day two (when we then introduced the next one and so on, rotating them – there’s nothing like a novel toy to lift a dog’s spirits!
  • Taught her a new game every few days. Cherry’s favorites included ‘which hand’ (hide a treat in both hands and get her to ‘guess’ which hand holds the treat, indicating with her paw! And she also loved all the fun nose work games, like ‘find it’ where you pop a treat under plastic beakers and she had to ‘find it’! Check out some of our SuPaw Challenges for ideas and inspiration.
  • Created a SuPaw Exploration Zone – this was a fantastic way to work a normally active housebound dog like Cherry – this 20 minute indoor activity was as tiring as an hour-long walk and left her in a deep state of relaxation without even leaving the house! Head over to our Enrichment blog for more information and ideas about the Zone itself as well as a wealth of other Enrichment suggestions.

  • Practiced ‘Bear’ this challenge is always a firm favorite with SuPaw Nanny members! There’s just something about this exercise that dogs seem to love and Cherry was no exception! It’s great for confidence and core strength! Use it when there’s a distraction e.g. another dog or a person. The familiar sequence gives dogs something easy to do, instead of reacting.


Dog puts their two front feet on an obstacle.

Find an obstacle that your dog can safely put both front feet onto e.g. be it a rug, a step, a log, a bench, a stable box, etc (ensuring this is height suitable considering your pets injuries etc). It helps at first if you choose something around the house that’s only big enough for two paws, rather than four.

How to train:

1. Lure your dog up onto the obstacle with food. Use your marker word (e.g. ‘good’ or ‘yes’ and reward them with the food from your hand.

2. Once your dog is confidently and smoothly following the lure, remove the food and use just your hand for your dog to follow. Mark and reward.

3. Once your dog is confidently and smoothly following your hand without a lure, add a verbal cue just before you begin. Mark and reward. The verbal cue is ‘Bear’.

4. Once your dog is listening to the cue and performing the behavior, start a short distance away and walk up to the obstacle together.

Only move on when you can get 5/5 confidently and smoothly at each stage. You must be able to tick off all of the boxes in the individual challenges before linking them together.

  1. Step 1 5/5
  2. Step 2 5/5
  3. Step 3 5/5
  4. Step 4 5/5

Unfortunately we can’t tell our babies that recovery is a process that will not last forever – but at least we can tell them every day through our actions, that we understand what they are going through and can help them get through the boredom! 

Hope this blog helps to provide you with plenty of ideas and inspiration – here’s to a speedy recovery! 


SuPaw Nanny