With the short days of winter and rainy spring, you and your dog can quickly get cabin fever! Here in the Midwest, we get super cold temps that keep us from taking our daily long walks so I am always looking for indoor games for my dogs to play.
I know when my dogs don’t get enough exercise; they start finding their own ways to entertain themselves, ending with mischievous behavior!
Physical and mental exercise is so important for your dog’s health, so when it’s not possible to go outside, turn to this list of indoor dog games.
If you have a long hallway or basement you can play fetch indoors. It’s as easy as grabbing a tennis ball or favorite toy and have fun! This is one of my go-to rainy day dog activities when it’s raining or too cold outside to go for our regular long walks.
Indoor dog training is simple, all you need is your dog and maybe a few treats. Whether your dog is an ace on basic commands or is still learning, even 5 minutes of practicing your sit, down and stays can be mentally challenging. Have you ever heard of the saying, “use it or lose it”? Make this fun by using treats or toys. Add some playtime between commands, whatever it takes to keep your dog engaged and having fun.
Use your dog’s nose to play this game and it will mentally tire him out quicker than you think. Start simple by hiding a few treats around a small area, give the command “search” or “find the treats”. Give a lot of excited praise once she finds each treat. Once you feel your dog has an understanding of the command “search”, then start expanding the area where you hid the treats, making it more difficult as your dog gets better at the find the treats game.
Get three or more cups, boxes or containers that you can hide a treat under. Set the cups upside down, placing treats under only one of the cups. If your dog has never played this game, you can start out by showing her where the treats are and covering them up. Once she gets the hang of the game, make it more difficult by not letting her see which cup the treats are under.
Playing tug of war with your dog is the perfect indoor dog activity. Tug can be a great bonding experience; plus is both mentally and physically challenging. The goal is just to have fun. There is a great article from Puppy Leaks about the art of playing tug with your dog.
If you are looking for a great tug toy, check out our Etsy store where we sell homemade fleece tug toys! I started the store for my daughter, and all proceeds are donated to a local rescue and her college fund. Read more about it on the Etsy profile.
If you have a muffin/cupcake pan and a few tennis balls then this is super simple to set up. Place treats or kibble in about half of the cups, then place tennis balls in each cup. Next, let your dog find the treats by moving the balls with their paw or nose. This dog game is so much fun to play, even your kids can play it with the dog.
Hide and seek may be a great children’s game, but is also a lot of fun for your dog! If you have kids, you can kill two birds with one stone with this one! Have your children hide and the dog find them. If you don’t have another human to play with, then your dog will need a good sit/stay command. Have your dog stay and go hide, yell out your release word and wait for your dog to find you.
When we adopted our dog JJ, we accidentally found out he knew how to play hid and seek already. I was playing with my daughter and JJ joined right in. I could never be the one to hide because he would find me within a few seconds! It was hilarious to watch. I wish we took video before he passed away a couple years ago.
Puzzle games are a fun way to play with dogs indoors. You can place your dog’s daily kibble inside the puzzle, so you won’t risk overfeeding him. We have this dog puzzle, but there are many more puzzles available to purchase, or if you are creative you can make your own.
Yes, you can teach any age dog a new trick! My favorite trick commands are the “sit pretty”, “middle” and “spin”. But you can teach your dog any trick you desire, how about “roll over” or “play dead”? Here is a list of some fun tricks to teach your dog:
We take agility classes with our dog, Ginger. But there are many of these things you can do on your own, using everyday household items. Using chairs, broomstick, boxes, hula-hoop, pillows, be creative and use what you have. If you want to get more serious, then you can order some agility equipment that doesn’t take up a ton of space.
The follow me game is great for dogs that need leash work or even for puppies to play indoors. This one is difficult to explain in words, so check out this video from a dog trainer:
So let’s hear it, what are your dog’s favorite indoor games to play? Do you have any indoor dog toys that you enjoy?
Debi McKee is a life-long dog lover and owner, volunteers for Fetch WI, fostering rescue dogs, performing home visits and more. She also attends every dog training seminar available to her, and is continually looking for ways to build her knowledge of dog adoption, health and training. Her goal is to guide you through every step of your dog journey. Read her story and learn about the dogs behind Rescue Dogs 101. If you have a question, please feel free to send Debi a message here.