Indoor Activities For Dogs
Author: Alina Andreeva
Alina A. is a professional writer, editor, and pet-lover. She has published over 50 articles on how to care for pets properly. Alina has been writing articles for 3 years, so she has considerable experience in this niche. Her natural curiosity helps her to expand her knowledge and learn new pet care life hacks, which will make your life much easier.View all 58 articles Learn about our editorial process and veterinary review board.
Updated on: 10/26/2020
How to Entertain Your Dog Indoors
During inclement weather, dogs get bored when cooped up indoors with nothing to do, just like we do. They thrive on new experiences, places, and things, and while rainy or cold weather may make it difficult to engage in those normal activities with your dog, having the opportunity to release pent up energy and encourage cognitive function is a daily need and desire.
Originally, dogs were domesticated to help out on hunting excursions, protect livestock, and serve as guard dogs. And while some dogs are still used to fulfill these responsibilities, most of us have dogs primarily for the companionship they offer. After all, they’re not dubbed ‘man’s best friend’ for nothing.
Understandably, cold temperatures and wet weather are often deterrents to taking your dog on routine walks, and many dogs refuse to go out in the snow, rain, and ice. But, finding ways to entertain your dog indoors is essential. When lousy weather spoils those outdoor plans for you and your dog, consider it an opportunity to spend extra time bonding, brush up on training, and still achieve some light exercise.
Even when the weather is cooperative, it is sometimes difficult to find new ways to entertain your dog, aside from a walk, visit a dog park, or playing a fetch game. Then when you’re confined to your home, finding options can be even more challenging.
However, he is solely dependent on you to help him get the stimuli he craves. Otherwise, he will find entertainment for himself, which may result in destructive behavior, excessive barking, and using your favorite pair of shoes as a chew toy. What can you do at home with your dog when you can’t spend time together outside on a rainy day?
Fortunately, with a bit of creativity, you and your dog can find ways to stay occupied. Check out these indoor activities, so you and your pooch use of extra energy and beat those dreary day blues.
Send Your Dog On a Treasure Hunt
Delight your dog by hiding treats throughout your home and send him on his sniffing adventure to find the treasures. Be sure to choose gifts that are extra aromatic so your dog can find them.
Entertain with Treat Puzzles
A variety of interactive dog puzzles and treat feeders will make your pooch work a bit harder for those delicious treats while providing some mental stimuli at the same time. For simple DIY alternatives, consider braiding pieces of an old t-shirt together and hiding gifts in the crevices, or fill an empty paper towel tube with treats, crimp the ends, and let your dog chew and shred way to the goodies.
Set Up an Obstacle Course
With a little creativity, you can make an obstacle course for the two of you to enjoy. Make a tent with a sheet or tablecloth, use couch cushions or pillows for makeshift jumps, and crawl underneath the dining room table. Working with your dog will build confidence and strengthen your relationship. If you find your dog enjoys agility training, consider investing in specific equipment later on.
Play the Shell
The shell game will allow your dog to exercise his problem-solving skills. Using three cups and a treat, place the gift underneath one of the cups and let your dog choose the bowl.
Play Tug of War
Tug of War provides both mental and physical exercise and will also give you a chance to practice obedience. You’ll need a rope toy or simply make your own using old cloth made of towels, sheets, blankets, or t-shirts.
Dogs love tug of war and the highly motivated ones will inch their way up to your hand, hoping you’ll let go. If your dog understands either the ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it,’ command, use them when those teeth get too close. Game over when listening stops.
Put the Toys Away
Why not let your dog pick up his toys when playtime is over? Encourage your dog to grab a toy and take it to the storage bin. Then, while standing over the tray, point to it and say ‘drop it.’ It may take several repetitions for your dog to get the hang of it, but he will eventually catch on. Stay consistent, practice frequently, and offer immediate rewards for picking up the toy and/or dropping it.
Teach Toy Names
Research indicates that dogs have intelligence similar to that of a 2-year-old, who can learn more than 200 words. Take advantage of this and practice teaching your dog the names of different toys. At first, use a few favorite toys and the chosen titles. By repeating the specific toy name during playtime, your dog will eventually make the association pick the right one when asked.
Try the Which Hand Game
This game is a great way to introduce nose (or paw work) with your pup, and practice impulse control. Hold a dog treat in one hand and put both fists in front of your dog until he chooses aside. Don’t allow him to mouth or scratch your side, though. When he picks the treat-filled hand, reward him with it.
If you have a long hallway or staircase, fetch can easily be played indoors. Just be sure the path is cleared of objects, and you have a softball that’s safe to use indoors. It’s also a good idea to play the game on a non-slippery surface to ensure your dog doesn’t slip and slide.
Create a Muffin Tin Game
For this game, all you’ll need is a muffin tin, tennis balls, and treats. Fill the tin with treats and cover with tennis balls so your dog can figure out how to get the gifts. Some dogs will work at the game tacking each tennis ball individually, while others will tip the entire muffin tin over to spill the treats. Find out which approach your dog will take.
Have a Basic Grooming Session
While the weather has you stuck inside your home, why not take care of some basic grooming needs. This may include bathing your dog or trimming his toenails if the two of you are up for it. Otherwise, consider brushing your dog’s fur. Most dogs enjoy being touched, and when done in a calm, relaxed setting, it is a very soothing experience. Brushing your dog helps keep his skin and fur healthy and will decrease your home’s excess hair.
Training should be an ongoing process, but while you’re busily trying to burn up some of your dog’s energy, having a refresher course is perfect. Whether you brush up on the basic commands (sit, stay, come, leave it) or decide to work on more advanced ones, your dog is always excited to interact with you.
If your dog is really good at the basic commands, practice a series of them by having him stay in one room. Then, you go to another place and call him to you. Incorporate other commands such as ‘sit,’ ‘stay,” and ‘lay down’ — and don’t forget the tasty rewards! To help your dog burn off even more energy, have another family member join in, if available. One person can sit at the end of the hallway or at the top of the stairs while you stay at the opposite end. Take turns calling your dog back and forth between you and use a series of commands, using treat rewards for extra incentive. The combination of physical and mental activity is sure to tire your dog out, and all of you will have fun in the process.
Teach Fun Tricks
It’s also a great time to work on fun tricks such as rollover, give a bow, shake, or balance a treat on his nose.
Alternative Indoor Activities
If you are feeling stir crazy and need to get out of the house, but the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor activities, consider the following alternatives that could be fun for you and your canine.
- Set up a doggie playdate with a friend or neighbor that has a dog.
- Schedule a session at indoor doggie daycare or indoor off-leash park, if available in your community
- Take your dog shopping. It provides a new experience for him, and you can get a few errands taken care of in the process.
Choosing Suitable Activities
While it may take more effort to mentally and physically stimulate your dog indoors, his health and happiness depend on it daily. Most dogs need a minimum of 30 minutes each day, but this can vary based on your dog’s health condition, age, breed, and energy level. Regardless of what you choose, the more often you intentionally interact with your dog, the better your relationship will have and will prevent restless, unwanted behaviors.
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