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Can't Go Outside? Play These Indoor Dog Games Instead!

When you and your dog can't have fun outdoors, try these fun, dog games and puzzles to keep your canine friend exercised and entertained.

February 6, 2023 4 min read
Can't Go Outside? Play These Indoor Dog Games Instead!

Few sights can dampen your spirits faster than gray clouds, wet skies, and a muddy yard -- especially when your dog desperately seeks some fun and games. But whether your outdoor plans get spoiled by rain, snow, oppressive heat, or some other prank pulled by Mother Nature, you and your dog can still have a wonderful day. Take a look at some challenging, entertaining indoor dog games that will exercise your pet both physically and mentally while also giving him the time of his life.

Tug of War

Some games meant for humans work equally well as indoor dog games. For instance, when was the last time you enjoyed a good tug of war? Offer your dog her favorite toy and then, once it has the toy in her mouth, gently tug on it instead of letting go of it. If your dog nips your hand, stop the game to discourage that behavior. Make sure to let your dog win at least half the time so she will want to keep playing!

The Great Bubble Chase

Most dogs seem endlessly fascinated by bubbles, those odd, glistening, floating objects that resist all efforts at capture by popping into thin air. A typical dog will happily chase bubbles all over the house for as long as you keep blowing them. Any standard bubble-blowing kit deemed safe for kids will prove equally suitable for pets.

This kind of indoor dog activity not only keeps your pooch entertained -- it should also help him  burn off excess energy, maintain physical fitness, and sharpen his coordination. Bubble chases can prove especially helpful when you don't feel up to much physical activity yourself but still want to give your dog an indoor workout.

Hide and Seek

You may have participated in numerous games of hide and seek or scavenger hunts over the years, but you probably never relied on your sense of smell to detect what you were looking for. But in the canine world, the nose knows. Dogs hunt and search by sniffing their way toward animals and objects. You can help your dog develop its detective skills by challenging it with games that exercise its sense of smell.

Hide and seek makes a perfect case in point. Hide a variety of fun items that your dog both loves and can recognize by scent such as snacks, toys, or a favorite blanket. Load one of these items into a cardboard box, then place multiple boxes around the house and encourage your dog to find the goodie. (Don't forget to praise and reward your pal when its nose leads it to the correct box.) You can repeat this exercise with one fun item after another for a full day of scent training and mental stimulation.

Brain Games for Dogs

Dogs love challenges, and not always of the physical variety. Have you been teaching your dog various tricks, skills, and commands? If so, a rainy day provides an ideal opportunity to conduct a review session. Go through various commands and reward your dog every time it responds correctly.

Puzzle games offer hours of brain-testing entertainment. You can challenge your dog with a Kong Wobbler loaded with favorite treats, or you can devise a muffin tin puzzle. Place treats in the cups of a muffin tin so your dog knows to look for goodies there, then cover some of the treats with tennis balls so your dog has to figure out which cups contain those rewards.

Cleanup training also counts as a kind of brain training. This indoor dog activity lets you teach your pet to put away its toys and other possessions. While your dog holds a toy in its mouth, place a treat right in front of it and use the command, "Drop." The dog will almost certainly drop the toy and take the treat. Repeat this exercise with a box until the dog regularly drops the toy into the box at your command, both with and without a treat as reward.

Obstacle Courses

Dog obstacle courses offer valuable physical/mental training. The simplest example of this indoor dog activity involves placing a chair or other legged furniture in the middle of a room and teaching your dog to crawl under it or jump over it (on command, of course) to reach a treat. You can also teach your dog to sit or stay underneath the obstacle as part of the exercise.

From these humble beginnings, you can expand your dog's indoor obstacle course to raise the difficulty level. For example, you can set down multiple boxes between your furry friend and its favorite toy or treat, forcing it to weave its way through different obstacle course layouts. You can even lay a broomstick horizontally at a reasonable height for your pet to leap over as part of the challenge.

Turn That Rainy Day Into Treasured Quality Time

Once you learn how to employ indoor dog games to keep your canine entertained and exercised, you'll find that you enjoy these interactions as much as your dog does. In fact, you may never look at a rainy day in the same way again. Have fun!

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