Walking your dog is one of life’s pleasures and exercise is essential for both their physical and mental wellbeing. However, sometimes, heading outside isn’t an option and it can be tough to find things to do with your dog indoors.
Not to worry – we’ve got you covered! From classic games like fetch and tug-of-war to more creative endeavors like making homemade dog treats or playing hide and seek, these 15 activities will keep both of you entertained for hours on end.
So grab your pup and get ready to have some fun!
Weave poles, low hurdles, and tunnels are the perfect way to get your dog moving. It’s great fun for both of you! And it helps keep them fit and healthy too. Plus, they love it! You can set it up anywhere in your garden or even inside if you want.
Basic agility obstacles can be purchased cheaply online or make your own with a few household items such as cardboard boxes, cushions, and pool noodles.
Most dogs love to be their human’s side, so hide and seek is an excellent game that offers a mental challenge with the ultimate reward.
Start by hiding somewhere where your dog can see you, perhaps behind a curtain, then encourage them to find you by calling them and rewarding them with lots of praise and a treat. As they become more proficient up the ante by hiding in different rooms or even upstairs to get them moving more.
Did you know that this game is one of the most intense physical workouts for a dog? No, it doesn’t make them aggressive or dominant, although they do need to understand the “leave it” command before beginning the game.
Playing tugging games will help improve your dog’s impulse control, redirect destructive behaviour and strengthen your bond; it will also build Fido’s confidence if you let him win once in a while.
Just ensure the toy is long enough for your fingers not to be near any teeth and if your pup becomes over-excited and mouthy, take a break.
All dogs seem to love this game, probably because it involves treats. Simple grab three plastic cups, yoghurt pots, plant pots or empty cans and place a treat under one of them.
In the beginning, use something with a strong smell to get their interest and you may need to show your pal where you are putting the tasty tidbit, but once they get the hang of it, they will be able to find the treat themselves in no time.
Flirt poles are an excellent way for your canine companion to have a workout indoors and work incredibly well for dogs with a high prey drive like terriers and hounds. Basically, it’s a giant cat toy with a lure at the end, which you can trail around the floor for your dog to chase.
Using a flirt pole provides your dog with both mental and physical exercise, but it’s also a superb way to teach impulse control and basic obedience whilst having lots of fun.
These exercises have long been used in the equestrian world and are becoming popular with dog owners. Cavaletti has many benefits for our canine companions, including improving their proprioception (body awareness), strengthening the spine and increasing limb flexion.
Poles are arranged on the floor or raised a couple of inches in specific patterns, your pup is then encouraged to navigate them slowly.
This gentle conditioning is a superb low impact exercise for older dogs or ones suffering from health issues like arthritis and hip dysplasia as it improves rear-end awareness. If you are looking to try new activities outdoors, then see these 7 dog agility exercises to get you started.
There are puzzle toys for dogs for every level of intelligence, so even if your furry friend is no Einstein, he can still benefit from mentally challenging activities.
Most of these toys involve hidden treats, which require your dog to move them a certain way to release them. These are a fantastic way of improving your pup’s problem-solving skills.
The best way to use them is to rotate them, so your dog doesn’t get bored and you can even make your own to save money. Put some treats under tennis balls in a muffin tray, make holes in plastic bottles or hide treats in a rolled-up tea towel.
Unlike humans who consider the consequences, dogs react instinctively to situations and need to be taught impulse control to keep them safe and under control.
For example, if a dog sees food, they eat it; teaching them to be calm and wait until you give the command to go ahead and chow down is a hard thing for them to learn and takes lots of energy.
You can work on different things each day, such as making your dog wait for your signal when the door is opened to enter another room, not chasing after a ball until you release them. All these things will produce a more well-behaved, balanced dog.
Why not turn on some music and take your Furbaby around the living room for a twirl. Not all dogs like to dance, but it’s a great way to improve balance and coordination while having fun.
Start simply and take it slow, teaching one move at a time and be careful not to overdo the jumps and twists. You will have a routine down in a few weeks and can start putting on shows for friends and family; you never know you might have the next Pudsey.
If you haven’t tried clicker training with your dog, you really should. Sometimes our voices can be a distraction when training, we don’t use the right tone, or our dogs find it difficult to understand what we want them to do. Using a clicker eliminates all that!
The trick to clicker training is timing; you must click and reward at precisely the moment your dog does what you want. Like anything worthwhile, it takes practice, but just a few minutes a day will see results and training is a great mental workout.
Fetch is an excellent game to burn off extra calories when a walk isn’t feasible if you have room. Just be sure to remove all objects, use a soft ball and play on a non-slip surface, so your pooch doesn’t hurt themselves.
This game will release pent up energy, relieve anxiety, and curb destructive behaviours; it will burn calories and is ideal for those dogs carrying a few extra pounds.
Your dog may not enjoy this as much as chasing a frisbee, but it is an excellent opportunity to give them a health check, trim nails and give them a little pampering. Some dogs need more maintenance than others when it comes to caring for their coats, but all dogs will benefit from these bonding sessions.
You should check for any lumps, bumps and unwelcome visitors like fleas, brushing will stimulate a dog’s natural oils and improve their coat’s condition and you could even include some doggy massage techniques.
You may be surprised to learn that a dog has the same intelligence as a toddler and can actually learn what words mean. In fact, Chaser, a Border Collie from the US, and the smartest dog that ever lived, knew over a thousand words.
Give each of your dog’s toys a one-word name and teach them what it means, the object of this game is for you to say “fetch Charlie”, for example, and your dog to understand that you mean their old tatty monkey.
They probably won’t end up knowing 1000 words, but they’ll definitely learn a dozen.
Most dog’s love chasing bubbles; in fact, you can even get beef, bacon and peanut butter flavoured ones designed specifically for dogs. This is a great activity for older dogs as they can stretch their joints and muscles without too much impact.
Doggy bubbles can be bought in pet stores or online, or you could make your own using six parts water to one part washing up liquid and adding a meaty stock cube dissolved in a little hot water.
Keep in an empty bottle or jar and leave to rest overnight, then use a straw, wire loop or anything with a hole in it as a bubble wand.
Massaging your dog is a fantastic way to calm down anxious or nervous animals and just like humans, your furry friend will feel refreshed and revitalised after a massage session; it also helps build trust and strengthen the relationship between dog and owner.
Start by petting your pet all over, use gentle circular motions and techniques to ensure you’re not too rough.
This video shows how to massage your dog correctly.
Spending time with your dog is a great way to bond, help them learn new skills, and keep the brain stimulated. Playing games with them at home will give you plenty of opportunities to do all three!
Interactive play is the key to a healthy and happy life for your pup. You don't need expensive toys or time outside; all you really need is a few minutes of your time!
Pick some activities from this list that sound fun for both you and your canine companion. And don't forget about mental stimulation - no matter how old they are, dogs need something challenging to stimulate their minds too!