Being confined to our homes can be disheartening for both us and our beloved dogs. We all understand that an active dog is a happy dog, but even if we can’t venture outside as much as we would like to, there are still numerous ways to keep our furry companions stimulated and entertained right at home.
In this article, I’ll talk about 10 great ways that you can entertain and tire your dog out indoors (in addition to your usual walks, of course!)
Let’s dive in.
- #1 Hide and Seek
- #2 Keep Your Dog Busy with Treat Puzzles
- #3 Play Fetch Down the Stairs
- #4 Tug of War
- #5 The Guess Which Hand Game
- #6 Keep Your Pup Occupied with Snuffle Mat
- #7 Try a Slow Feeder
- #8 Rotate Your Dog’s Toys
- #9 DIY Puzzle Toys for Nosework Fun
- #10 Chase Me: An Exciting Game of Tag
- #11 Learn a New Trick
- #12 Relax with a Doggy Massage
- #13 Creating a Home Obstacle Course for Your Dog
- #14 Watch TV Shows Made for Dogs
- Final Words
Whether you have a backyard or not, you can do all these things from the comfort of your home. All dogs have different energy levels/personalities, so some of these could be too easy/too hard. I recommend trying them to see what your dog likes and what he/she doesn’t like and adjusting from there!
#1 Hide and Seek
One of the simplest yet most enjoyable games you can play with your dog is the classic ‘Find It.’ This game involves hiding your dog’s favorite toy somewhere around the house. First, ensure your dog sits and waits so they don’t see where you’ve hidden the toy. Then, use the command ‘find it’ to start the fun. This game is not just entertaining but also sharpens your dog’s searching skills and keeps them mentally stimulated.
#2 Keep Your Dog Busy with Treat Puzzles
When we find ourselves feeling bored, we often have a million things on our screens to entertain us. However, it’s important to remember that our dogs also need stimulation and mental exercise beyond just being by our side. That’s where the Loobani range of treat puzzles comes in handy. These puzzles come in various difficulty levels, allowing you to select one that matches your pup’s puzzlin’ skills.
Loobani dog puzzle toys are a perfect choice to keep your pups occupied and mentally stimulated. These toys challenge your dog to figure out how to retrieve treats, providing both mental and physical exercise. It’s a fantastic way to entertain your dog, especially when outdoor activities are limited.
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#3 Play Fetch Down the Stairs
Playing fetch doesn’t have to be an outdoor-only activity. If you have stairs at home, try throwing your dog’s favorite toy down the stairs. This variation of fetch is a great way to tire out your dog, especially on days when the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities. It’s fun, and you might find that your clever canine learns to play this game independently!
Moving on to…
#4 Tug of War
Most dogs love a good game of tug-of-war, as it allows them to play out competition and “predator shake” instincts in a harmless way. This active two-player game is the perfect boredom buster for days when it’s not ideal to take long walks.
Grab hold of one end of your dog’s favorite tug rope toy or lightly grip a blanket edge. Let them bite down on the other side. Pull back gently, encouraging them to play tug against your grip. Say “Drop it” and offer treats periodically before resuming play.
This interactive bonding activity engages your dog’s mind and body in energetic play while reinforcing positive drop/take cues. Praise for releasing on command helps develop self-control, too.
Another idea is…
#5 The Guess Which Hand Game
This is a simple yet mentally stimulating game. Show your dog a treat, then hide it in one of your closed fists. Shuffle your hands around and then present them to your dog to choose from. If they tap the wrong hand, reveal the empty palm and wait for them to choose correctly. This game quickly becomes a favorite and is excellent for mental stimulation.
#6 Keep Your Pup Occupied with Snuffle Mat
Snuffle mats are another fantastic way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated. It’s an easy way to simulate an outdoor grassy sniffing expedition right on your own living room floor!
These mats are made of fabric and feature strands of fleece, felt, or other materials, creating hiding spots for treats. All you have to do is scatter your dog’s kibble or favorite treats throughout the mat. Then, watch them joyfully explore with their nose, uncovering each tasty morsel hidden in the faux foliage.
This engaging and mentally stimulating activity taps into their natural scavenging instincts, providing hours of constructive fun.
Moving on to…
#7 Try a Slow Feeder
The Loobani wobble feeder is a unique way to make mealtime fun and engaging for your dog. Simply fill it with your dog’s dry food and watch them playfully bat it around the kitchen to get the food out. This feeder not only entertains but also slows down the eating process, which is pretty beneficial for dogs that eat too quickly.
Another playtime idea…
#8 Rotate Your Dog’s Toys
Just like children, dogs love new things to play with. One way to achieve this is to rotate their toys.
Start by picking out a few of your dog’s toys and stashing them away in a cupboard for a couple of days. This temporary “toy vacation” creates a sense of excitement and anticipation. After a few days, swap out the stored toys with the ones your dog has been playing with. This simple act of rotation will make their familiar toys feel brand new again, capturing their interest and keeping them happily entertained.
#9 DIY Puzzle Toys for Nosework Fun
Our dogs explore the world primarily through their exceptional sense of smell. If you don’t have any dog food puzzle toys on hand, don’t worry! You can easily create your own DIY scent work puzzles, providing another fantastic way to stimulate their minds.
All you need are some cardboard boxes, cups, or muffin tins, plus beloved treats to hide inside for seeking.
The Shell Game
Place treats under plastic cups, then shuffle them around on the floor while your dog watches. Let them sniff out the correct cup, hiding the reward! Increase difficulty by using more cups or faster shell shuffling.
Box Search Puzzle
Arrange empty cardboard boxes around a room and place treats inside one random box while your dog waits elsewhere. Then, release them to search by scent and pawing until they successfully indicate the correct box holding the payload!
Muffin Tin Puzzle
This is one of my favorite nosework games for Oreo, my rescued dog, which involves transforming a muffin tin into an interactive brain teaser. I’ll grab a few of his favorite treats and a mini tennis ball in the other.
As he watches eagerly, I’ll drop the treats into random muffin tin slots, then top them with the balls so they are hidden from view. Once 3-4 slots have surprise edible treasures buried underneath, I place the puzzle tin on the floor.
Oreo immediately gets to work pawing the tiny tennis balls out of the slots, checking excitedly beneath each one until he uncovers a treat jackpot! I let him happily nibble away at the reward each time before covering a new combination of slots for him to unlock.
Trust me, these nose work games stimulate your dog’s scent-tracking abilities since they must use air currents and concentration to pinpoint the location of the food rewards. Rotate different search game types to keep their problem-solving skills sharpened while burning mental energy.
#10 Chase Me: An Exciting Game of Tag
If you have plenty of room to move around in your house, ‘Chase Me’ is another interactive game that can provide exercise for both you and your dog.
Oreo, for instance, loves running around the house in a game of tag. It’s a fun activity and a great way to bond with your dog and get some indoor exercise.
#11 Learn a New Trick
Even the most talented dogs can learn some impressive new skills! If you find yourself with plenty of time at home, now is the perfect opportunity to engage in training sessions with your beloved furry companion and teach them some exciting tricks.
For a plethora of enjoyable and unique tricks to train your pup, take a look at this comprehensive list titled “52 Tricks to Train Your Dog.” It provides step-by-step instructions and accompanying photos that explain how to teach your dog cool behaviors such as crawling, limping, spinning, army crawling, and many other engaging tricks.
#12 Relax with a Doggy Massage
While much indoor playtime focuses on high-energy activities to prevent restlessness, it’s also important to balance stimulation with rest periods. Doggy massage is a calming way to help your pup decompress while enhancing your bond.
Dog massage provides similar benefits as human massage – reducing anxiety, easing joint/muscle soreness, improving circulation, and even strengthening immunity. Specific techniques can also aid digestion or bladder expression needs.
Learn massage stroke basics from online tutorials to try on your own dog. Focus on the neck, shoulders, back, and legs using gentle compression and stroking motions. Your soothing touch combined with relaxing endorphin release makes this a paw-sitively heartwarming bonding routine for you both.
#13 Creating a Home Obstacle Course for Your Dog
If you have enough room, why not DIY a homemade obstacle course for your four-legged friend? It can be a delightful and interactive way to ensure your dog stays physically active and mentally sharp.
Personally, I enjoy designing courses throughout my apartment using an assortment of items such as cushions, boxes, hula hoops, and chairs. Incorporating various jumps, tunnels, ramps, and obstacles keeps things interesting. Here are some of the elements that I particularly enjoy including:
Cushion Jumps – Arrange pillows or cushions in a line to serve as mini hurdles for your dog to hop over. Start low, then increase height to build agility.
Hula Hoop Circles – Hold up a hula hoop at your dog’s shoulder height and have them jump through the hoop while tossing a treat to the other side as motivation. Teaches timing!
Blanket Tunnel – Drape blankets over upright chairs spaced a few feet apart to fashion an adventure tunnel for your dog to crawl through. Navigating tight tunnels builds confidence.
Ramps – Lean a rigid board against the couch to create a mini ramp – toss treats up the incline so your dog has to scramble up using problem-solving skills.
Throughout the obstacle course, use verbal cues, gestures, and treats to guide your dog and reward success. Rotate elements to keep it challenging and fun while tiring out even high-energy pups! These basic agility skills provide vital mental and physical enrichment.
#14 Watch TV Shows Made for Dogs
Lastly, consider watching TV shows specifically made for canine viewers.
These programs often feature stimulating images, sounds, and movements tailored to capture dogs’ attention and provide visual entertainment.
Seeing animals or high-pitched noises on doggie TV can be very appealing to bored pups looking for indoor mental enrichment. Just be sure to supervise to prevent overstimulation or anxiety if they become too excited.
Much like us, dogs need a mix of physical and mental exercise. While it can’t fully replace their outdoor adventures, there are tons of ways to keep your pooch entertained indoors — from indoor obstacle courses to interactive treat puzzles.
I hope this list gives you some inspiration and helps to keep your pup occupied and tire them out. And I would love to hear about how you guys entertained your dogs indoors. So please let me know more in the comments section.