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8 Great Ways to Entertain Your Dog Indoors

A brown dog looking at the camera

There are times you will need to find indoor activities for your dog in order to keep them happy and occupied.

It is essential to find ways to entertain your dog busy while stuck indoors indoors, especially when the weather is not cooperative or on certain occasions when your pup may be on restrictions such as after a surgery.

Plus, sometimes we can't get out with our dogs because of time, health limitations, or current events such as the current COVID-19 restrictions.

It is always good to teach our dogs various positive indoor games to stay occupied on their own. Bored dogs with too much energy often turn to destructive behaviors. However, if we teach and provide our dogs with constructive options, it will avoid unwanted behavior such as nuisance barking, chewing, and anxiety.

There are several fun indoor activities for dogs that can tire them out both physically and mentally. Playtime and games stimulate a dog's mind and help them to focus, leading to more sound sleep, lower stress levels, and may help build confidence.

8 Ways to Entertain a Dog Indoors

Shell Game

  • What you Need: Three solid colored containers small enough to easily maneuver, plastic containers work best. Also, you will need treats.
  • Play: Place a treat under one of the containers, be sure your dog sees you do it, then shuffle the cups around, and finally allow your dog to choose which one they think is hiding the treat.
  • Purpose: This game aids your dog in focusing their attention; it is also an excellent opportunity to work on the wait command, as they have towait while you shuffle the cups. 

Stuffed Kongs for Dogs

  • What you Need: Treat, soft food, or peanut butter, you can also use kibble and a Kong.

  • How it Works: At first, use a treat or soft food that is easy for your dog to get out, if you make it too hard, your dog may lose interest. As your dog begins to understand how the Kong works, you can increase the difficulty. Stuffing then freezing the Kong helps make it last longer, is perfect for hot days, and can ease the discomfort of puppies who are teething.

  • Purpose: It takes time and both mental and physical energy to get the food out of Kong.

  • Tip: If you use soft food or peanut butter, you can use a bottle brush to clean the Kong in between uses.

You can even use it to help give your dog medicine, mix the pill in with the soft food then pop it inside. Often it is helpful to have at least two Kongs if you are freezing them, to ensure you will always have one available.

Clicker Training

  • What you Need: Treats, Treat pouch (optional), and clicker
  • How it Works: If you have never used a clicker before, you need to “load” the clicker. What this means is that you need to build an association between the sound of the clicker and the treat. To do this, you will click and treat 20 times, no commands, just click and treat.

  • Purpose: This is a fun game for your dog, it helps with training good behaviors, bonding, and it is mentally challenging for your pup, which also tires them out. Additionally, it will help build confidence.

Clicking marks a behavior you want and immediately provides positive reinforcement. You can use clicker training for basic commands or fun tricks like speak, roll over, shake, or even how to turn on or off light switches.

Tug of War

  • What you Need: A safe tug toy or dog safe rope

  • How to Play: Before playing tug, it is essential you first teach the “release” command. Also, you can add a fetch in between, play tug for a bit, ask for release, and then toss the toy. When they bring it back, you can resume your game of tug.

  • Purpose:This game will help tire your pup out physically and aid in training the release command.

As you and your pup play, be sure to watch their body language. Some dogs will become overly excited and play more aggressively; if that happens, end the game by asking for your dog to release the toy and end play. This game is not recommended if your dog has aggressive tendencies or resource guards as it can worsen the behavior. If your dog does not have any signs of these issues, tug of war will not create bad behavior.

Treat Hunt

  • What you Need: Treats and a way to contain your dog, such as a crate, tethered, or shut in another room. This game is also an excellent chance to work on stay.

  • How to Play: After containing your pup, hide treats in various accessible locations. Be sure to put them on surfaces that are okay and safe for your dog to explore. For example, under a table, but not on the table as it will only encourage them to check the table for food. Next, release your dog and tell them to "find it", then help lead them around the house, until they understand the command "find it" means finding treats.

  • Purpose: This game is both mentally and physically draining for your dog. Most dogs get very excited about this game and will expel a lot of physical energy.

When your dog has found all of the treats, mark the end of the game by saying "all done," otherwise they will keep looking.

Hide and Go Seek For Dogs

  • What you Need: You will likely need two people unless your dog knows the stay command. One person will hold the dog; the other will hide.

  • How to Play:Once your dog has been contained, hide, then call your dog in a happy, excited voice. Release the dog, and when they find you greet them with a cheerful, fun voice, giving them lots of praise.

  • Purpose:This is both a mental and physical activity.

Dog Puzzle Games

  • What you Need: Puzzle toys and treats.
  • How it Works: There is a wide variety of puzzle toys such as:
    • Treat balls
    • Snuffle Mats
    • Puzzles that your dog has to push levers or move pieces to access the treat
  • Purpose: These are great for when you need time to yourself or if you aren’t home. It keeps your dog occupied and gets their brain working.

If you have a dog that enjoys this style of toy, switching between different puzzles will keep them challenged.

Indoor Obstacle Dog Course

Agility training for dogs can be a great experience for you and your dog. It allows the dog to be not only physically stimulated but mentally as well. Agility is also a great way for you and your dog to create a deeper bond, as it takes a lot of time and communication.

  • What you Need: Obstacle course equipment, such as tunnels, weave poles that can also act as cavaletti bars, and small cones, plus you will need treats and your clicker.
  • How it works:Train your dog one obstacle at a time, then build from there.
  • Purpose: This is a physical and mental activity; it can also help build your dog’s confidence.

Helping Your Indoor Dog Stay Active 

Whether you are stuck inside because it’s a rainy day or your dog needs more mental stimulation, indoor activities for dogs are an excellent way to tire out your canine and keep them from getting into trouble.  Plus, since many of these activities are interactive it also provides a perfect way to bond with your dog.

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Meet The Author 

Jessica Mabie author of Dog Paw Pad Injuries for dogs: What you need to know

Jessica Mabie

Canine Specialist & Writer

Jessica Mabie is a Freelance Writer residing in the Twin Cities. She specializes in writing about pets, travel, and food. Jessica graduated with a BA in English Literature from the University of Minnesota, TC.

Jessica has always loved dogs, and, at the age of 14, she started volunteering at a neighborhood vet clinic. While at the U of M, she continued her work with dogs as an obedience trainer and vet tech. Although she no longer works with dogs professionally, she does use her experience as a volunteer with American Brittany Rescue as well as aiding in her writing.

When not working, Jessica and her family spend a lot of time camping and hiking from spring to fall. So, if you happen to see her out and about with her family don’t hesitate to say “Hi!”, (You’ll know it’s her since few are so daring as to have 4 Britts).

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