Need some ideas for wintertime boredom busters for your dog? We’ve got 12 activities to keep your dog entertained indoors when the weather is too severe to get outside.
Does a winter blizzard have you trapped indoors? Seasonal rains just keep coming down and making everything muddy? Or maybe the temperatures have plummeted to dangerous conditions. Your dog STILL needs to have something to doooooooo…..
All of these games (with the exception of the first) can be played in short bursts of time, several times a day.
Let’s jump right in with 12 of our Chloe-tested-and-approved activities to keep your dog entertained indoors.
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Get your creative juices flowing and assemble your dog an obstacle course from common household items. Sofa cushions, tables and blankets, chairs with a broom across for a low jump, cardboard boxes for tunnels…you’re only limited by your imagination.
Use common sense for safety and make certain all objects are slip-proof and have no sharp corners your dog could run into.
Game of Tug
Dogs big and small love to show us how strong they are. Tugging can really wear your dog out. It’s also a great game for practicing impulse control.
As with all games, make sure your dog knows the rules before you play. Choose a soft toy with some distance between your dog’s teeth and your bare knuckles. Because Accidents. Take turns by letting your dog ‘win’ a few times and then asking her to let go of the toy so you can have it. Your dog should know the ‘drop it’ command and be willing to give the toy up, especially if you see she’s getting too over-the-top stimulated.
Old wives tale: Tug does NOT cause your dog to be aggressive unless your dog already has some aggressive tendencies or strong prey drive to begin with. If that’s the case, choose another game.
Dogs who LOVE their crates have probably played crate games. Helping your dog to understand that going in their crate and staying there brings good things is valuable and fun.
Physical activity though? Yes, you can get some really fast “go to your crate” zippiness happening that can use up some extra energy.
Check out these books and videos for inspiration. Or come up with your own games tailored to your dog.
Can you hear your mother’s voice echoing in your head: “Don’t play ball in the house!” Yep, me too. But let’s be honest – you know it’s gonna happen anyway, especially if you have a ball-obsessed doggo. The solution? Using these soft, lightweight indoor balls from ChuckIt . Take it from someone who has broken so many household objects by playing fetch with a tennis ball!
Your dog has up to 300 million olfactory sensors in his nose (compared to our measly 6 million.) Pretty easy to see why dogs LOVE to use their noses for just about everything. Help them make the most of it by playing a game of Find It.
Have your dog wait in a separate room while you hide tiny bits of his favorite smelly treat around the house. Then release him to put that nose to work locating every treat.
Another variation, Hide and Seek, can be played with you. Again, have your dog sit and stay in another room while you scramble to find a great hiding place. Call your dog and see how long it takes him to hunt you down – bloodhound-style!
You can also have your dog ‘Find’ her toys by name. Hide them around the house or have her fetch them from her toy box.
Working out how to get all those tantalizing treats out of her Kong is really immersive for your dog. It uses her mind, body and determination – which burns a lot of energy.
See our recent post on how to use a frozen Kong, recipes and ideas.
One of the best ways to provide a challenge to your pup is to give him a puzzle game to solve. There are so many different puzzle toys on the market. But no worries; if you don’t have one, you can easily make your own version.
Muffin tins make perfect toys. Hide a small treat in each cup and cover with tennis balls. Mix it up by putting treats in only a few of the cups and let your dog work out which ones have the goodies.
Snuffle mats can be lots of fun for your dog to work for her dinner if you feed kibble. You can buy a snuffle mat or make your own.
Learn a Trick
The benefits for trick training are so many, it deserves another post to cover them all! And these benefits extend to YOU as well. All dogs can learn a trick or two, even some of the most stubborn and independent (I’m looking at you, Beagles and Shiba Inus!)
The secret to trick training is to find something your dog considers a fair trade for what you’re asking her to do.
Brush up on Obedience
This can burn off some energy for both mind and body. Run your dog through his obedience commands. Your pup may have ‘sit’ ‘down’ ‘stay’ nicely – but polishing these cues to perfection is something you two should work on regularly even when you’re not bored and looking for something to do.
Run your dog through his commands backwards, forwards, with and without treats, surprise him with a game of tug in the middle, or offer a shower of treats on the floor when he’s finished.
You know how relaxed you feel after a massage…Just imagine how exquisite this will feel for your pup! Massage for pets not only relaxes their mind and body but also releases stored toxins and those wonderfully health-inducing endorphins.
Groom and Bath
Grooming your dog actually uses up a lot of energy. For BOTH of you!
Start with a thorough brushing to remove loose fur and stimulate the skin. Follow with a bath and rinse. Some dogs love the hair dryer. Others prefer a soft toweling off. And after-bath zoomies will burn off more energy.
Learn to Relax
This sounds counter-intuitive to the subject we’re talking about, but let’s take a closer look at this.
Sometimes dog owners, especially those of us who love high-energy dogs, fall under the assumption that if our dogs aren’t actively doing something ALL. THE. TIME. it’s a bad thing. Not necessarily so.
Yes, all dogs require a certain level of physical/mental activity to keep them happy. Some breeds require more than others. But canines are not designed to be awake and active all day long. Dogs need quite a bit of sleep or downtime in order to balance their energy and health.
Use your indoor time wisely. Give your dog a chance to unwind, settle herself and rest. Using a ‘place’ command is very helpful. It will give your pupper a physical location (usually her bed or a cot) that means ‘now I learn to wait patiently and rest my body and mind.’
Of course, if your dog is a natural cuddler and champion napper, invite him up on the sofa so you can relax together!
There are probably a bajillion more things you can do with your dog when the winter winds are howling. Have fun using these ideas and dreaming up your own activities to keep your dog entertained indoors.
Tell us what YOU do with your dog for indoor fun! Post in the comments below.