Fun indoor games for dogs are a lifesaver for any pet parent who has an energetic furkid on their hands that doesn’t enjoy sitting still for long. While it’s definitely worth investing in some of the best dog toys, they’ll only hold your canine’s attention for so long, which is why it’s good to have a few other tricks up your sleeve.
When the weather is too hot or cold to venture out in, or a pandemic sees you unexpectedly housebound, your dog’s activity levels naturally decrease. Dogs of all ages and breeds need daily physical and mental stimulation to ensure they stay healthy and well, and to keep them out of mischief.
Dogs get bored just like the rest of us, so having some indoor games for dogs up your sleeve can help engage their brains and bodies and stop them from chewing up your favorite trainers the minute you’re out of sight. Plus, if you have a dog whose love language is quality time, they’ll be excited to hang out with you in a way that’s different from their daily walk.
Stuck for ideas? You’re in luck. We’ve rounded up our favorite indoor games for dogs that will keep your canine happy and healthy when the great outdoors is off-limits.
1. Hide and seek
One of the most beloved indoor games for humans and dogs alike, hide and seek can keep you both amused for hours.
If your dog is already good with commands, and responds to ‘find it’, then you can select a toy, show it to them, shut them in a separate room while you hide it, and then let them out and ask them to retrieve it for you.
Use keywords such as ‘good’ to let them know if they’re on the right track and you can also give nonverbal hints such as pointing or helping to lead them in the correct direction until they get the hang of the game.
If your dog doesn’t know a command like ‘find it’ you can use questions such as ‘where’s your toy?’ or ‘where’s your ball?’ For dogs that haven’t mastered commands yet, you can play hide and seek with the best dog treats to help train them. Show your dog the treat and then throw it while saying ‘find it’. Your furkid will soon catch on, and then you can move on to toys.
2. Under, over, and through
If you’ve got the space at home, why not try setting up a mini agility course? Once you’ve moved anything breakable out of the way, grab a few common household items that can be turned into obstacles:
- A broom raised up off the ground by books to jump over
- A chair to jump up on or run underneath
- Boxes with open ends to crawl through
- A hula hoop to jump through
- Wastepaper baskets to weave in and out of
Set each item up with space in between each, and encourage your furkid to crawl, walk, and jump under, over, and through things. Agility courses are a great way to increase attention, develop flexibility, and work on handling.
3. Play with food
Seriously, what dog isn’t going to love you forever if you mix food with fun? Kong toys are amazing for this, as you can smear the inside with peanut butter and get them to go on a scavenger hunt to look for it. Once they find it, all that creamy goodness will keep them amused for ages.
Using a dog feeding puzzle is another great way to keep your furkid occupied and mentally stimulated. All the intense focus and concentration can also help reduce age-related changes in the brain, which is an added bonus.
4. Stair races
Use any stairs in your home to your advantage, and create a game out of running up them. Get your dog to sit at the bottom of the stairs to increase their anticipation, hold a toy, and once you feel their excitement, throw the toy up the stairs. Make them wait until you’ve said ‘go’ before they run up to fetch it. Encourage them to descend slowly to avoid the risk of injury.
Running up the stairs burns lots of energy, so you won’t need to do much of this before your furkid is begging you for a nap. Bear in mind that you’ll want to avoid this game if your dog suffers from mobility issues or if they’re under 18 months old, as a puppy’s joints take time to fully develop.
For multi-person households, the classic game of tag can be a whole lot of fun. Each person in the game gets allocated a number of dog treats, and everyone stands in opposite corners or sides of the same room. One person calls the dog, and then rewards it with a treat and then the next person does the same thing.
Each time you call your dog, you’ll want to move further away from the other people that are playing until you’re in different rooms, and eventually, opposite ends of the house. The more running your dog does, the more exercise they get, which will help burn off those treats!
Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.
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