Tips & Tricks

14 Fun Ways to Entertain Your Dog in an Apartment

Apartment life can leave your pup bouncing off the walls sometimes, especially on rainy days that keep you from trips to the dog park or if work has you missing your daily dog walks. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with simple ways to keep your dog entertained indoors. These tricks will curb any boredom behaviors and give you peace of mind that your four-legged friend isn’t developing a case of cabin fever. 

cognitive dog toys

Let’s dive in!

#1. Pull Out the Interactive Puzzle Toys

When outdoor playtime is limited, interactive treat puzzle toys are a great tool to challenge your pup mentally. Physical exercise is crucial, but mental stimulation is equally important for a happy, healthy dog. 

Interactive puzzle toys come in all sorts of innovative shapes and sizes to keep your dog engaged even in a small space:

• Slow feeders: These feeders have intricate mazes that make your dog work harder to access their kibble, encouraging slower eating and more thinking.

• Food puzzle toys: These toys release hidden treats when your pup figures out how to manipulate them just right—what a sense of accomplishment! Look for toys designed for pushing, rolling, and flipping.

• Snuffle mats: These mats have long, soft fibers that are perfect for burying treats deep inside. Your dog’s keen nose will go wild, sniffing them out.

Fill puzzle toys with kibble or treats, and watch your clever canine use their doggy smarts to unlock the tasty rewards inside. It’s such a fun way to burn off some of that endless puppy energy!

#2. Offer Chew-tastic Bones

If you’re looking for a foolproof way to keep your apartment pup happy and busy, you can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned chew bone. Chewing is a totally natural behavior for dogs, and it’s actually really important for their overall well-being.

First off, chewing is an awesome way for your dog to burn off extra energy. When they spend time gnawing away on a bone or chew toy, they’re not just having a blast—they’re also getting a fun little workout. All that chewing gets their jaw muscles moving, which is like a nice, easy exercise that can help them feel more relaxed.

But that’s not all! Chewing is also hardwired into your dog’s DNA. Way back when, their wolf ancestors would chew on bones to keep their teeth nice and clean, their jaws strong, and their gums healthy. Plus, all that gnawing just feels good and helps relieve stress.

So when you give your apartment dog a vet-approved chew bone, you’re not just keeping them busy—you’re also helping them satisfy their natural urge to chew. And that can actually keep them from chewing on stuff they shouldn’t, like your favorite shoes!

pug chew bone

Just be sure to pick chews that are totally safe for dogs. Stay away from raw bones that can splinter and cause some seriously scary choking or digestive problems. Instead, go for vet-approved chews that are made to be easily digestible.

There are tons of options out there, from classic rawhide bones to fancy new chews made from things like yak milk or potato starch. Have fun trying different types to see what your dog likes best—just always keep an eye on them while they’re chewing to be safe.

#3. Play Hide and Seek

Did you enjoy playing hide-and-seek as a child? Turns out it’s a tail-wagging good time for dogs, too! Teach your pup to “stay” while you find a hiding spot, then call their name. Start with short distances and easy hiding places at first. 

As your sneaky sidekick gets better at the game, try hiding farther away in trickier spots. If your eager beaver has trouble holding its stay while you hide, no worries. Just lead them back to their starting point and pick an easier spot. With practice, your pup will be a hide-and-seek master in no time!

#4. DIY a Calming Lick Mat

When you need your dog to chill out during a Zoom meeting or some quiet time, bring out a lick mat. These silicone mats with ridges hold tasty spreads like peanut butter or pumpkin purée. Your furry buddy will be laser-focused on licking the mat clean. 

The repetitive licking action is actually quite calming and soothing for pups. It’s a peaceful way to keep them occupied for a good stretch of time. Plus, it’s an easy, no-mess activity—just load the mat up and let your dog go to town!

#5. Play Tug of War

A game of tug is a dog’s idea of a good time! You can make an easy tug toy by braiding strips of old t-shirts or denim. Knot the ends, and voila—you’ve got a rope that’s perfect for tugging. Your dog will especially love it if the material smells like you.

Tug of war is an awesome game for exercising and interacting with your pup. Watch them twist, turn, and strategize to yank the rope from your grasp when plain old pulling doesn’t work. It engages both their mind and their muscles. Game on!

dog tug of war

#6. Play Fetch

No spacious yard? No problem! You can easily play fetch indoors if you’ve got a hallway or stairs in your apartment. Grab a soft ball like a tennis ball or a quiet stuffed toy. Toss it down the hall or stairs and watch your canine catcher zoom after it. 

Some dogs could chase a ball for hours and still want more! To up the challenge, try bouncing the toy off the wall at an angle instead of throwing it straight. Your pup will have to calculate a new approach path. You’ll be impressed by their ability to figure out the geometry of fetch!  

dog fetch

#7. Organize a Canine Egg Hunt Game

Why should egg hunts be limited to Easter? Pack some plastic eggs with drool-worthy dog treats and hide them around your apartment. Your pup’s powerful sniffer will be on high alert all day, tracking down those hidden goodies.

For extra credit, use different types of treats in each egg. Your dog will quickly learn which scents lead to their favorite rewards. Egg hunts are an excellent way to harness a dog’s natural scent-tracking abilities for some seriously fun mental stimulation.

#8. Play the Hot and Cold Scent Game

Ready to really test your dog’s super sniffer? Grab some super smelly, irresistible treats like freeze-dried liver. Start by tossing one to your dog and saying, “Find it!” so they get the idea. Then, start “hiding” treats in plain sight and give the find-it cue.

Once your pup has the hang of it, kick it up a notch. Place treats out of sight in sneaky spots and cheer them on with an enthusiastic “find it!” You can even hide them in other rooms as your dog gets more skilled. This nose-driven game is crazy fun for scent hounds especially.

#9. Build a Shredding Box

If your dog is a shredding machine, give them an approved outlet with a DIY shredding box. You’ll need a cardboard box, recyclable paper, old towels, and your pup’s favorite treats. 

Wrap the goodies in paper, toss them in the box, and let the shredding extravaganza begin! Yes, you’ll have to clean up the aftermath, but it’s so worth it to have a happily tired dog. Allowing some supervised shredding can keep your pup from ripping up things they shouldn’t.

#10. Watch TV

Lousy weather is the perfect excuse to lounge on the couch with your pup and binge-watch TV. As it turns out, some dogs love watching animal shows, movies, or action-packed sports like hockey or soccer. The fast movements really capture their attention.

But even if your dog isn’t much for screen time, they’ll still enjoy the snuggle session. Cozy couch potato days are a wonderful way to bond when going outdoors isn’t happening. Fire up your favorite flick and settle in!

popcorn girl food dog eating

#11. Bake Homemade Treats

On those chilly, rainy days, why not do a little baking for your very best friend? Whipping up a batch of dog-safe treats is a great way to pass the time, and your pup will be eager to taste-test your work. 

When baking for dogs, skip any toxic ingredients like chocolate, xylitol, raisins, or macadamia nuts. Stick to dog-friendly basics like whole wheat flour, pumpkin, and peanut butter. Look for healthy dog treat recipes online or on YouTube—Barking Good Chef is a treasure trove of ideas. Your lucky dog will love your homemade treats!

#12. Set Up an Indoor Agility Course 

Think agility training is just for high-energy agility pros? Think again! Most dogs can benefit from some indoor obstacle course action. It builds confidence, sharpens focus, and provides a total-body workout. 

If you’re short on space, set up a small course using household items. Have your dog weave around toilet paper rolls, leap over your outstretched leg, army crawl under a blanket tunnel—get creative! You can also invest in an indoor agility kit if you really want to commit.

Agility training is fantastic for rainy day exercise and bonding. With a little imagination, you can dream up endless obstacle combos to master together.

#13. Ace Basic Obedience Training

When walks are a wash, it’s the ideal time for brushing up on basic training skills. If you find yourself saying sit, stay, or come over and over, your puppy probably needs a refresher course. Practice makes perfect!

Clicker training is a great way to mark the precise moment your dog does something right so they connect the reward to the behavior. Be patient and give the cue just once, then wait. If your pup doesn’t do it, toss a treat to “reset” and try again.

Test your dog’s self-control by seeing how long they can hold a sit, down, or stay. Go slowly and build up duration over time. You can proof the behavior by adding distractions like the TV, a tempting open door blocked by a pet gate, or noises. Now that’s an A+ student!

the girl and the dog are playing

#14. Teach a New Trick

Along with polishing the basic cues, why not teach a cool new trick when rain keeps you inside? Working on a new skill for just 10 minutes a day is an awesome way to bond and keep your best buddy mentally sharp.

High fives are a fun, simple trick that is a great alternative to jumping up to greet people. Once your dog has that down, you can move on to dancing, bowing, rollover, and more. Short training sessions with lots of rewards work best.

No worries if your pup doesn’t nail a new trick right away. Break it down into baby steps and practice a little bit each day that you’re stuck inside. Your persistent pooch will get there! Stay patient and positive, and don’t forget to throw a party when they put it all together.

dog pet looking animals home

Final Words

Living in an apartment with your four-legged bestie is an adventure all its own. Sure, you might not have a sprawling yard, but you’ve got something even better—a cozy home base to share with your favorite furry friend.

And when it comes to indoor entertainment, the possibilities are endless! From brain-boosting puzzle toys to hide-and-seek hijinks to DIY obstacle courses, there are so many ways to keep your apartment-dwelling dog happy and mentally stimulated.

The best part? You get to be creative and come up with your own unique activities tailored to your dog’s personality and your living space.

Do you have a special indoor game that your dog absolutely loves? Or maybe a favorite toy that keeps them entertained for hours? We want to hear all about it!

Share your tried-and-true tips and creative hacks in the comments below.