If you are wondering how to keep your dog entertained at home, you’ve come to the right place. This post will look at some indoor games to play with puppies that will provide mental stimulation, teach them basic commands and most importantly, keep your dog happy!
There are many reasons you may be stuck at home with your dog they may be too young to go outside, be recovering from illness or surgery or perhaps it’s pouring down and you don’t feel like going out; either way, your dog must receive both physical and mental workouts.
If you have a hyper high energy dog, they are the type to always be ready for more. They’ll never get tired of playing fetch or running around like crazy. Dog indoor play for a few minutes a day is a fantastic way of releasing pent up energy in addition to daily walks.
The right amount of mental and physical stimulation is essential for your dog’s well-being. If they don’t receive enough, it can result in unwanted behaviours such as nuisance barking, chewing or other destructive antics.
The good news: there are plenty of things to do with a dog, whether it’s teaching them a few tricks, chasing after tennis balls or tackling some dog puzzle games.
The Benefits of Fun Indoor Dog Games
Games with dogs indoors can be a great way to cure boredom, which may lead them to unwanted behaviour problems.
Indoor games and puppy activities also strengthen the bond between human/canine partners through playtime activities such as playing tug or hide and seek. If these don’t sound entertaining enough, try making up a DIY agility course for dogs or inventing your own games.
Below we’ll take a look at some of the best games to play with a puppy or older dog that are fun for dogs and their humans.
19 Fun Games to Play with Your Dog Inside
Dogs love to spend time with their human companions. What better way of improving their behaviour, strengthening that special bond and increasing their physical and mental capabilities than playing some fun indoor games that will keep you both entertained while also getting exercise?
Here we’ve listed nineteen of the best indoor games.
Play fetch indoors
If you have the space or a long hallway, you can play fetch inside. A couple of tennis balls is all you need to keep most dogs happy. Of course, this works best with smaller dogs and make sure there are no breakables before you start throwing a tennis ball around.
Tug of war – One of the most fun indoor games for dogs is a tug of war and it can tire a dog out as much as physical exercise. They are plenty of tug toys available in pet stores and online, but why not make your own rope toy with some old T-shirts? This video shows you how. Make sure your pup understands the leave or drop command and if they start getting rough end the game and contrary to popular belief, it’s OK to let your dog win occasionally.
Play free shaping games – Shaping is a process by which you gradually reward your dog for each step of the action or behaviour that he learns. For example, if you wanted to teach your dog to open the door, you would reward them with a few treats as they move towards it, then again as they reach toward the handle.
Hide and seek – A fun game for dogs to play indoors is hide and seek; tell your dog to stay whilst you hide in another room either behind the door, curtains or under bedding, then shout, come after a few seconds.
The cup game – I love playing this with my dog. All you need are some plastic cups or empty yoghurt pots, hide treats under one of them and encourage them to find it. The three-cup game is a fun way to keep your dog’s brain busy. By shuffling the cups around, you are giving your dog plenty of mental stimulation and helping them work on problem-solving skills!
Trick training – If you are wondering how to keep a dog entertained indoors, clicker training is a winner; there are always new tricks to learn. If your pooch already knows the basics, why not teach them to play dead or take a bow
Use treat-dispensing machines – Any type of food dispensing toys for dogs are great if you prefer your canine companion to work for their food. You can even make your own using plastic bottles or Pringle tubes with holes in them.
Cavaletti – Cavaletti is great for a dog’s balance and proprioception and is especially beneficial to older dogs. All you need is some poles laid out in patterns on the floor or raised an inch or so. Encourage your puppy to navigate them and watch the concentration as they pick up their feet.
Build an indoor obstacle course – This is a fantastic way to keep your dog occupied; set up an obstacle course in your own home. You can use chairs or pillows to create jumps, weave poles and make tunnels that will provide hours of entertainment for your dog.
Keep things tidy – If you are constantly tripping over your dog’s toys, this is a new trick that will benefit you both. Give your dog a specific toy, then repeat “drop it” when the toy box is underneath your dog’s head. After a few rounds, they’ll have leant something new and you won’t need to be constantly picking up after them.
Use a wobble board – This confidence-boosting activity is excellent for dog owners with timid pups or a dog with health problems. Balance boards or Buja boards, as they are sometimes called, have many benefits improving back and core strength, balance and flexibility and it takes a lot of concentration for a dog to master the positions which tires them out.
The muffin tin game – Who needs to spend lots of money on puzzle toys and treat dispensers when you can make your own. Simply use a baking tin with treats covered by tennis balls and let your dog pick them out. Like the hand game, these are simple games to play with your puppy inside.
Dancing fun for dogs – Maybe you have a dog that loves to get up on its hind legs and dance with you when the music starts. If so, this is one way for both of your mindsets can come together in perfect harmony! Encourage your pup to weave through your legs, add a hula hoop into the mix. This is another one of the games for dogs at home that improves balance and coordination whilst having fun.
Teach your pooch words – Did you know that dogs can learn what different words mean? In fact, Chaser, a Border Collie from the US, has learnt over 1000. Now we love dogs at Dogsbarn, but to be honest, I would be happy for my pooch to learn half a dozen words. This should be done in short 5-10 minute sessions. Let your dog choose one of their favourite toys and give it a name, for example, “monkey” then, every time you pick it up, say the word, eventually, you can say “find monkey,” and your dog will bring the right toy to you.
Let them help with the chores – Dogs love a job to do, so why not utilise this and get them to give you a hand with the chores. Tie a towel to the fridge door and teach them to open it. You could even teach your dog to take clothes out of the washing machine or wake the kids up!
Use interactive toys – Dogs are natural puzzle solvers, and there’s nothing like a good challenge to keep them entertained. Puzzle toys come in varying degrees of difficulty; if you have an intelligent dog that easily solves these kinds of puzzles, then I recommend getting one with more complex challenges. Here are our interactive dog toy reviews we covered recently.
Unrolling a towel – Put a few treats in a line at the edge of an old towel or yoga mat, then roll it up with treats in between each roll. Direct your dog to the open edge of the towel and be sure to praise their efforts profusely as they unroll it to get to the treats
Bubbles – Teach your dog to chase bubbles. Some dogs will be fascinated by the bubble and do it anyway, while others may need you to show them exactly what is expected of them. Try blowing out just one or two at first; point towards their desired target with an excited expression before catching it yourself to show them how it’s done. You can even get bacon flavoured bubbles, especially for dogs.
Do some Doga – Doga is great for dogs with orthopaedic issues or senior dogs. It can help improve muscle mass and joint health, increase the heart rate and circulation, and be a great bonding exercise for both you and your dog.
6 More Games to Play with a Puppy Inside
Organise a doggie play date – Invite some playmates around for an hour to play indoor dog games. It’s really satisfying to see dogs playing with one another; just make sure to supervise so any rough and tumble doesn’t get out of control.
Try a doggie massage – Giving your dog a massage is not only good for them; it can be an enriching experience and strengthen the dog/human bond. A lovely session with you will help soothe any sore muscles, ease tension and relieve anxiety! Giving massages also helps improve circulation by increasing blood flow and we’re sure your dog will feel much more relaxed afterwards.
Utilise technology – Games are not just for humans! There are apps and games you can download for dogs too. Most involve them hitting the screen with their nose or paw. They are designed with colours and sounds to stimulate your pup’s senses further. Some of the best include Lonely Dog Toy, iSqueek and App for Dog, where you can unleash your hounds hidden Picasso. I would suggest getting a screen protector, though.
Use a flirt pole – These are basically a pole with a lure or toy on the end. Flirt poles can be found online and can be used to teach your dog better impulse control and satisfy their prey drive and this type of meaningful play will also improve coordination and tire them out.
Nose balancing – I know I’d be wasting my time with this one, but we’ve all seen those amazing videos of owners balancing a treat on their dog’s nose. It takes a lot of patience, but this video shows you how to do it.
Organise a treasure hunt – To make a game of hiding things, use something smelly like a Kong stuffed with treats or an old toy. Have the dog stay while you hide it, then tell them to find what is hidden! You could even lay a trail of treats to the hiding place.
Don’t Overdo Those Dog Treats!
A quick word of warning, a lot of these games involve treats. Obesity in dogs is a big problem in the UK, so always take these extra calories into account in your feeding schedule and be sure to use low-fat treats or their favourite toy instead as a reward to avoid your pup gaining weight.
How do you keep a dog mentally stimulated?
The American kennel club states that a mentally stimulated dog is a happy one and indoor games for dogs are an excellent way to give their brains a workout, starting with something simple like some basic dog training or playing with a tug toy.
What is the fastest way to tire out a puppy?
Dog tricks and games are a simple and quick way to tire out puppies. Remember to keep sessions short, so neither of you gets frustrated and when your dog wins, reward them.
Hopefully, you have discovered some new ideas for ways to keep your dog entertained, provide some mental stimulation and burn off any pent-up energy in this post. Exercising dogs doesn’t need to cost the earth either many dogs are happy to play with some old socks, a noisy plastic bottle or rolled up piece of paper.
Try pass the parcel, play tug or blow up a few balloons for your dog; the choices are endless when it comes to games to play with dogs indoors, use your imagination and the most important thing, have fun.
If you have any ideas for games for puppies indoors, feel free to get in touch via our social media channels, we’d love to hear from you!