All dogs need outdoor exercise and yearn to head on a walk every day. However, some days simply won’t allow for outdoor exercise, whether due to rain, snow, high winds, or extreme heat. But just because your pooch is stuck inside, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get much-needed exercise. Without it, they are bound to become mischievous and display behaviors that you aren’t fond of.
Luckily, there is a wide variety of activities that you can do with your dog indoors so they don’t too bored or frustrated before they’re able to head back outside again. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can keep your pooch entertained and exercised without stepping foot outside. There may also be indoor facilities in your community that welcome dogs. Here are 34 simple activity options to consider.
1. Play Hide-and-Seek
Dogs love to be challenged both mentally and physically, which is something a game of hide-and-seek can offer them. If your dog knows how to sit and stay, this should be an easy game to teach them. It’s a fun game outdoors but offers just as much entertainment inside the home too. All you must do is get your dog to sit down in a corner and then wait for you to call them. Find a place to hide somewhere in your house, and once you’re settled, call your pooch so they can start looking for you. Reward them with a treat after they find you, then start the process over again until they seem satisfied.
2. Do Nose Work
If your pooch is like most, they love sniffing out different smells during their walks and when they’re hanging out in the yard. It makes sense because things are always changing out there! But things don’t change nearly as much inside as they do outside, so your dog probably doesn’t spend much time inspecting every corner of your house like they do the yard. You can change that by hiding small treats around the house in places like corners, under a couch cushion, beneath a cloth on a table, and in their dog bed. Then, let your dog loose so they can travel the whole house and collect all their treats.
3. Practice Obedience Skills
Your dog might already know basic obedience skills, but it never hurts to practice, especially if they don’t use their skills regularly. Practicing basic commands like sit, stay, wait, and high-five are all easy to do within the confines of a home. Obedience training is the perfect option for those living in small apartment spaces because it doesn’t require more than a couple of feet of space and it is low key, so you don’t have to worry about anything getting broken.
4. Challenge Your Dog’s Detective Skills
Let your dog be a detective for the afternoon by setting up roadblocks and activities around the house that will challenge their mind and keep their body moving. You can place a chair on its side to block the hallway so your pooch can figure out how to navigate through, around, or over the legs. Set a TV tray up in a room, and place a treat or two on top so your dog can scout the treats out. Hang a few toys on strings from the ceiling so your pooch can figure out how to catch the floating toys with their mouth.
5. Clean Up Together
Since you are stuck inside the house together, you might as well clean the house together. It’s true: You can teach your dog to do chores around the house so they stay busy while you’re doing your own chores. The first thing you should teach them is to pick up their toys. The process of teaching them to do the job is a fun activity in itself. After a few days of practice, your pooch should start picking their toys up any time that you give them the command to. You can also teach your dog to put dirty clothes in the laundry basket and to grab you a refreshment from the kitchen.
6. Take Part in Tug-of-War
We have never met a dog that doesn’t like to play tug-of-war, which is an activity that you can easily and safely do inside the comfort of your home. You don’t need anything special to play — any rag or toy will do. Just grab one end of the old shirt, rag, or toy, and shake it in front of your dog. They’ll likely grab the other end, and when they do, slightly tug on your end. Before you know it, you’ll be both tugging to see who can win the object.
7. Stuff a Treat Toy
There are many fun treat toys available on the market, like the Kong, that will provide your pooch with fun and stimulation while they’re stuck inside. These toys can also help reduce separation anxiety when you leave your dog at home alone. Treat toys can be stuffed with all kinds of things, like dog food, peanut butter, pumpkin puree, chunks of squash, and mini hotdogs. Try different types of treats and snacks to find out what your furry pal likes the best.
8. Enjoy a Mini Version of Fetch
Fetch is typically an outdoor activity, but if you live in a large house, you may be able to get away with a mini version of the game in the family room or a hallway. You need a lightweight rubber or plastic ball or a rolled-up sock to ensure that nothing accidentally gets broken while you’re playing. Keep your throws slow and low so you can better control where the ball goes. Remind your pooch not to jump while fetching the ball to keep their bodies from knocking stuff over.
9. Teach New Tricks
Spending time inside while the weather outside is bad offers the perfect opportunity to teach your dog new tricks just for fun. Holding a treat on their nose, hiding under a blanket, and shaking hands are just a few things the average dog can learn to do, young or old. Teaching your pooch new tricks is an activity that the whole family can take part in and enjoy.
10. Engage in Interactive Puzzle Games
If you’re willing to invest a little money in indoor activities for your dog, consider getting a variety of interactive toys and games for them. When your dog can’t go outside to exercise or play for any reason, you can simply get out an interactive game, and they’ll keep themselves busy for hours while you work, do chores, or lounge around on the couch watching movies.
11. Help Your Dog Name Their Toys
Naming toys together is another fun activity that you can do with your dog when you can’t get outside to play in the sun. Start by naming just one toy and referring to that toy by name for a few days. Make it a point to play with the toy and call it by name at least once a day. Your dog will learn the name of the toy and can then retrieve it, put it away, or show it off whenever you ask them to. Teach your dog the name of several different toys, one at a time, so you can vary your retrieval gameplay as time goes on.
12. Practice Clicker Training
Clicker training is a great way to work on your dog’s recall skills and obedience commands while you’re spending time indoors. Clicker training offers positive reinforcement to dogs and makes them feel good about the skill, commands, and tricks that they perform for you. Clicker training can help you keep your pooch calm and well-behaved when they must spend an entire day inside, where their energy tends to quickly build up.
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13. Do the Treat-in-Hand Trick
A quick activity that you can do with your pooch to stimulate and challenge their mind is the treat-in-hand trick. This simply involves letting your dog watch you put a treat in one of your hands. Then you’ll close your hands, put them behind your back, and move the treat back and forth between your hands. Then, put your hands back in front of you and let your dog guess which hand the treat is in. If they’re right, they should get rewarded with the treat. This will allow your dog to practice patience and problem-solving skills at the same time.
14. Give Your Dog a Massage
A massage may not give your dog any exercise, but it will make them feel loved and help get rid of any stress that staying indoors is putting on them. A massage will wash away the tension and put your pooch in a good mood so they’re more agreeable, even if they’re frustrated about not being able to go outside. Start at their head and gently work your way over their back, chest, legs, and even their tail. They’ll let you know if they don’t like what you are doing.
15. Get Creative With an Old Box
An old cardboard box can be fun for you and your dog when you’re stuck inside without much to do. You can do all kinds of things with a box to keep your dog entertained, like hide a treat in it and close the flaps without securing them. Then, let your pooch figure out how to get inside the box and retrieve the treat. You can also cut large holes in the box so your dog can crawl through it like a tunnel. Another idea is to fill the box with stuffed animals or books, then attach the box to your dog’s harness so they can pull it through the garage or down the hallway. The options are limited only by your imagination!
16. Play a Quick Game of Tag
Tag doesn’t seem like an indoor game, but as long as things don’t get out of hand, it can be enjoyed indoors sometimes. The trick is to not let the fun linger on too long, so your pooch doesn’t get too excited and start knocking things over. Start a quick game of tag by tapping your pup on the head or rear end, then slowly jog away while they follow you. Once they touch your arm or leg with their snout, you can start the game over again by having them sit down and wait for the tap that tells them it’s time to start chasing you. Two or three rounds of tag should be enough for your dog to burn pent-up energy without getting overly excited.
17. Head to a Community Agility Course
Just because you can’t exercise with your dog outside due to weather doesn’t mean that you must stay home. There may be an indoor agility course in your community where you can take your dog for playtime and socialization. Visiting an indoor agility course will also give you an opportunity to work on your dog-handling skills.
18. Create an Obstacle Course
If you can’t find an indoor agility course to take your dog to, you can always create a miniature obstacle course at home to help them practice their agility skills and allow them to blow off some steam. Place two chairs a couple of feet apart from one another, and then lay a broomstick across the chairs to create a jump. Hang long pieces of rope from the ceiling for your dog to weave through. You can even create a tunnel for them to run through by hanging a blanket over a table so two ends are opened and two ends are closed.
19. Get the Bubbles Out of the Cabinet
If you have a bubble container laying around the house somewhere, you have a fun yet easy activity to do with your dog while spending time indoors. You can blow bubbles while you’re watching television, playing cards with the family, or folding clean laundry — and your furry family member will be more than happy to chase the bubbles around and try to pop them with their paws and mouth.
20. Use Old Stuff to Make New Toys
Even if your dog has a chest full of toys to choose from, they can get bored with them if they haven’t been replaced in a while. Luckily, you don’t have to go to the store to breathe new life into your pooch’s toy box. Tying knots into an old shirt will create a fun tug and chew toy for your dog to enjoy. Filling a sock with crinkle paper and tying the end closed will create a noisy toy that your pooch won’t be able to get enough of. You can also make a sniff mat by gluing different sized pieces of cloth to a piece of cardboard and then hiding treats under the cloth for your dog to find.
21. Schedule a Play Date
Another easy yet effective way to keep your dog entertained while stuck inside is to invite a friend who has a dog over for a play date. The dogs can hang out together while you catch up with your friend and enjoyably pass your time inside together. Or, consider hosting an obedience training get-together, where you and friends can practice training your dogs together.
22. Watch Videos Together
Dogs don’t usually watch television, but you can get their attention by putting on funny videos of dogs barking, singing, and playing. Videos of birds, cats, bunnies, and other critters can also help keep your dog entertained when you aren’t up for anything more active. Your pooch might also enjoy watching a movie that features dogs as the main characters, like “Pets” or “A Dog’s Way Home.”
Dancing to your favorite song in the living room is a surefire way to get your dog up and active when they’re feeling lazy on a rainy day. They’ll follow your moves and wag their tails as you show them your own dance moves. You can incorporate tricks such as high-five and roll over into your dance routine to keep things interesting for yourself and challenging for your dog.
24. Do an Art Project Together
Why not employ your dog to help you create artwork while you’re stuck inside the house together? Doing so will benefit you both in the creativity department. Your dog will be happy just to spend the time with you while unwittingly helping you create a masterpiece. You can trace your dog’s paws and use the paw shapes as a pattern on a chest or old chair that you want to repaint.
Alternatively, you can also put water-based paint on a large canvas and let your dog walk around on it (you’ll have to bathe them afterward). Or, if you can get your dog to stay still, you can have them lay down on a big sheet of construction paper and trace their entire bodies to create a life-sized replica of them.
25. Practice Patience
Most dogs we know can get impatient quickly, especially when they haven’t been exercised recently. The more they practice patience, the better they will be at it, so take the free time you have together at home to get some practice in. A simple activity, such as having your dog sit and wait until you tell them that they can get the treat in front of them, will help build more patience in your pooch.
26. Teach Your Dog to Sing
Singing is another fun indoor activity to consider doing with your dog. Of course, your dog won’t really be singing, but they will enjoy trying! Just put on your favorite tunes and start singing away. Encourage your dog to join in by howling and barking occasionally, as they’ll be sure to repeat you. If you practice often enough, your dog will probably start singing on their own whenever they hear familiar songs playing.
27. Do Bird Watching
You can help make it seem like you’re outside by bird watching with your pooch through the windows in your home. The truth is that while you’re spotting and identifying birds, your dogs will likely be checking out anything that moves, which will keep them stimulated when they would otherwise be snoozing due to boredom. Mornings and evenings are the best times of day to bird watch through the window because wild animals are out more at these times.
28. Take a Swim in the Bathtub
If your dog enjoys swimming, you can use your bathtub as a swimming pool and give them an opportunity to cool down when it’s too hot and sunny to spend time outside. Don’t’ treat the experience like bath time; treat it like beach time by putting a few toys in the water and making a game out of it. Hold a toy under the water and see if your dog is willing to dive in to get it. Or turn the showerhead on so they can try to catch the drops of water with their mouth. You’ll be left with a clean and soft dog to snuggle up with at the end of the day.
29. Bust Out a Laser Pointer
It’s fun to watch a dog chase after a laser pointer, and it seems that dogs enjoy the activity just as much as we do. Moving a laser pointer around on the ground is a great way to give your dog much-needed exercise when they’re stuck inside. It’s also an excellent brain challenger that will keep your pooch on their toes from beginning to end. It’s a good idea to limit laser pointer chasing to just a few minutes at a time, to avoid the risk of your dog becoming obsessed with it.
30. Let Your Dog Do Taste Testing
Your time spent inside offers a great opportunity to introduce new healthy snacks to your pooch. Many fruits and vegetables are good for dogs and can help improve their overall health in various ways. Doing a taste test will give your dog something fun to do while you figure out what foods they’re willing to eat so you can start offering it to them more often in the future.
Pick out two or three different foods, like sweet potatoes, carrots, and blueberries, and feed them to your dogs like treats one at a time. Before long, you’ll have a long list of healthy snacks that your dog likes, without you having to buy overly processed treats from the store.
31. Create a Faux Yard on the Porch
If the weather isn’t too bad to spend time on your porch, consider turning the space into a faux grassy yard for your dog to enjoy. Put an artificial grass rug on the ground for your pooch to lay on, and place a small plastic pool filled with sand for them to dig around in. The environment will make your dog feel like they’re outside and give them a chance to play a little rougher than they can inside the house.
32. Offer to Babysit Kids
If you don’t already have kids at home to keep your dog company, consider offering to babysit for friends or family members. The kids and your pooch can play together all afternoon and wear each other out. You’ll be left with a happy dog that’s ready to lounge around afterward, and the people you babysit for are sure to appreciate that you are sending their kids home calm and relaxed.
33. Do Target Practice
Another indoor activity option to consider for your dog is target practice. This is a fun game that will teach your pooch problem-solving skills while keeping them entertained. Just cut cardboard or paper plates into different sized circles and then paint the circles different colors. Hang the circles on a wall where your dog can reach them with their nose. Give each circle a unique name, and teach the names to your dog. Then, have your dog target a circle one by one by touching them with their nose as you call the names of the circles out.
34. Get a Yoga Session In
Yoga is a great way to stay in shape when you can’t get outside for a brisk walk or a run, and your dog will likely be happy to join you in a session. Yoga will give you an opportunity to bond with each other, and it will help improve your dog’s circulation. You both will probably sleep well at night too. Getting started is as easy as being present with your pooch while you practice your yoga moves. Over time, you should be able to master basic moves together.
There are many indoor activities to choose from, which should help make it easy to entertain your dog when they’re stuck spending their time indoors. Print this list out so it will be readily available when you need it the most. What indoor activity ideas are you most excited about trying with your pooch? Have you tried any of the ideas we’ve outlined here today? We want to know what you think! Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Featured Image Credit: MrJayW, Pixabay
- 1. Play Hide-and-Seek
- 2. Do Nose Work
- 3. Practice Obedience Skills
- 4. Challenge Your Dog’s Detective Skills
- 5. Clean Up Together
- 6. Take Part in Tug-of-War
- 7. Stuff a Treat Toy
- 8. Enjoy a Mini Version of Fetch
- 9. Teach New Tricks
- 10. Engage in Interactive Puzzle Games
- 11. Help Your Dog Name Their Toys
- 12. Practice Clicker Training
- 13. Do the Treat-in-Hand Trick
- 14. Give Your Dog a Massage
- 15. Get Creative With an Old Box
- 16. Play a Quick Game of Tag
- 17. Head to a Community Agility Course
- 18. Create an Obstacle Course
- 19. Get the Bubbles Out of the Cabinet
- 20. Use Old Stuff to Make New Toys
- 21. Schedule a Play Date
- 22. Watch Videos Together
- 23. Dance
- 24. Do an Art Project Together
- 25. Practice Patience
- 26. Teach Your Dog to Sing
- 27. Do Bird Watching
- 28. Take a Swim in the Bathtub
- 29. Bust Out a Laser Pointer
- 30. Let Your Dog Do Taste Testing
- 31. Create a Faux Yard on the Porch
- 32. Offer to Babysit Kids
- 33. Do Target Practice
- 34. Get a Yoga Session In
- In Conclusion