Being stuck at home is disappointing for you and your dog. We all know that an active dog is a happy dog, but even if you can’t go out as often as you ideally would like, there’s still a lot you can do at home to help keep your dog motivated and entertained. Check out our tips below to find out how you can keep your dog entertained indoors.
A woman and a dog playing inside
Requirements for dog activity
Dogs need physical and mental stimulation to stay fit, healthy and happy. Physical exertion comes from walking, running, playing, while many different things can provide mental stimulation.
From tracking smells outside, to focusing too hard on obedience training, or trying to get food out of a puzzle game – difficult mental concentration results in a tired and happy dog.
A dog that lacks stimulation (of a physical or mental type) often ends up releasing its pent-up energy in an undesirable way, such as chewing on its owner’s socks or destroying a piece of furniture. That is why it is very important to ensure that your dog gets a lot of stimulation, both mental and physical.
Ideas for entertaining your dog indoors
1. Practice short bursts of obedience training every day
Training your dog provides great mental stimulation. Using the methods of positive reinforcement, review all the commands that you previously learned, or introduce a new one.
Whether you are just starting to obey or your dog is an experienced professional, it is useful to spend at least 5-10 minutes on training every day, to ensure that all commands are well entrenched in the dog’s mind, and they can always remember the correct behavior when needed.
2. Teach your dog a new trick
Try teaching your dog a new trick. Whether it’s shaking a paw , learning the name of a favorite toy, or crawling under a chair – the possibilities are endless!
A great trick to try is tidying up. First, teach your dog what the word” put it away ” means, by getting him to pick up one of his dog toys, carry it to a box and drop it. Then you can proceed to scattering toys around the room, pointing them at once as they pick them up and put them away, until eventually they are able to do this with just a command.
3. Give your dog a stuffed Kong or a puzzle toy to distribute food
Stuff Kong or a similar toy with pieces of kibble, mixed with a delicious treat such as a spoonful of peanut butter, canned pumpkin or mashed banana. Pro tip – you can freeze them to make them last longer for your puppy!
Puzzle games and food distribution games are great for mental stimulation (as are dogs that devour their meals too quickly!) The dog needs to” solve ” the puzzle, by tilting or shaking the puzzle toy to hit the cable before they can eat it. Some of our favorite food puzzle games are made by Trixie or Nina Ottoson.
4. Let them watch the world go by
Dogs like to sit by the window. If you can, prepare a safe place for your puppy where they can see from the window, and if you feel comfortable doing this, open the window a crack for them to enjoy the smells and sounds of the fresh air.
5. Rotate your dog’s toys
Just like children, dogs love new things. By rotating the dog toys, you can make the toys look more interesting!
Stash some of your dog’s toys in the closet for a few days, and then swap them over to give your dog something new to play with.
6. Teach your dog the name of their toys
Teaching your dog the names of their toys is not as difficult as it may seem. This can be a great activity, especially if you spoil your puppy with a lot of toys. Start playing with one toy and give it a name while you do it-tell your dog to bring the selected toy by name and give a lot of compliments when he returns the correct toy. You can also use treats or a clicker while playing with the selected toy and reward your dog while saying the name of the toy.
At the end, check if your dog can choose the toy by name from a pile of toys. As soon as they understand the name, try to move on to another game and repeat the process.
Dogs love new things. Hide some toys in the closet for a couple of days, and then take them out again for the novelty factor!
7. Tug of war toys
Tug of war is a wonderful indoor game that does not require much space but is incredibly physically demanding, and dogs (and humans!) Very quickly.
Other toys that you can adapt for indoor play include throwing a very lightweight ball in a safe area for your dog to pick up or bring, provided there is nothing breakable.
Doggy Noses poking from under the bed
8. Playing hide and seek
Especially fun if you have children – make your dog sit and stay (give them a human assistant if they don’t know how to stay yet) and then go and hide. When you’re ready, call them to come and find you.
When they succeed, make sure you react Super enthusiastically and reward them because they know they did a good job and enjoy the game as much as you did!
9. Finding treats
Your dog’s sense of smell is incredibly stimulating for them, so let their noses do some of the work. Hide treats around your house and let them sniff them out all day long.
If you repeat this over several days, be sure to reposition the candy to keep it interesting for your dog.
10. Creating an indoor obstacle course
If you have enough space, why not set up a homemade obstacle course for your puppy? Teach the puppy the basics of agility, jumping over some small boxes, weaving through piles of books, and lying on a blanket at the end.
Another great one to keep the kids entertained too, you could even work up to hosting your own dog show with an agility course and obedience class with your kids as dog handlers!
11. Learning to smell work
Our dogs explore and understand their world through smell, so scent action games are a great way to keep Fido occupied by putting their noses to work. For these games, all you need is some dog treats and various household items.
Play the game ‘hand that’ :
For a simple look at the work of the smell, put a treat in one hand, close your fist, and hold it in front of your dog.
Let your dog sniff your hands and choose what hand she’s in.
When they choose correctly, open your hand and give them a treat.
Puzzles for tin cakes:
Using a muffin baking tray, tennis balls and dog treats, place the candies in two tins and cover all the holes with tennis balls.
Give a “puzzle” to your dog and let them explore by moving the balls to find the treats hidden under them.
Every time you play, change the location of the treats to keep your dog’s mind stimulated.
Using three to four cups, place a treat under one of the cups (for large dogs, you may want to use plastic cups or even inverted flower pots).
Let your dog sniff around and discover what a treat Cup is under.
When your dog paws at the right Cup, lift it to reveal a treat while praising them.
Using empty cardboard boxes, place several boxes on the floor.
Place a treat inside one or more boxes, while your dog is out of the room.
Bring your dog into the room and let them look for the box that has a treat inside.
When they paw in or push the correct box, reveal the treat and give them a lot of praise.