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Dogs love to play outside, no matter what the weather or situation. But when circumstances won’t allow for it, pet parents must get creative at home in order to entertain our furry friends! Here is a list of indoor games to keep your dog healthy, happy, and enhance the bond you share.
A PDF of our indoor games is available for download at the bottom of this article.
Where’s the Treat?
What You Need: 3-4 empty cups and dog treats
Have your dog start this game in a Sit/Stay, or Down/Stay position about 10 feet away from 3-4 empty cups. When you have your dog’s attention, place a treat or a toy under one of the cups. Then, loudly ask, “Where’s the treat?” When your pup finds the correct cup, reward them with the treat and lots of praise! Once your dog has mastered the basics of this fun game, you can make it more challenging by moving the cups around after you hide the treat or pretending to put treats under multiple cups.
Name That Toy
What You Need: several different dog toys
Collect a group of visibly different toys from around the house. Hold one toy up for your dog to see, sniff, and get excited about. Next, toss it away, asking, “Where’s your [toy name]?” When your pet retrieves the toy, give them lots of praise, then repeat the process with the other toys (being sure to stay consistent with the naming each time). Once your dog has mastered a few names, set out multiple toys and tell them which to get.
What You Need: dog toys or dog treats
Start with your dog in a Sit/Stay position; show them a toy or treat, then place it on the floor where the dog can see it. Say “Find it!” and praise your pet when they do. Watch your pup as they search for additional treats and tap your foot or give an “Ooh!” to point them in the right direction. Continue this process with varying treat placements or set up a room of hidden treats in advance for a fun surprise.
Stairway to Heaven
What You Need: a staircase and your dog's favorite toy
Start your dog next to you in a Sit/Stay position at the bottom of a staircase. Then, throw your dog’s favorite toy to the top of the stairs. Say, “Fetch!” or “Get it!” After your pet runs up the stairs to grab their toy, call them to “Come” and ask them to “Drop” or “Release” the toy. Repeat the process until your dog is completely exhausted from the fun! (Please note that this is not a good game for puppies, as their joints are still developing, or dogs prone to injury.)
What You Need: a friend or family member, dog treats or kibble
This is a two-person game, so grab a friend or loved one! Stand a few feet apart from each other, each holding a handful of treats or kibble. One person calls the dog to “Come,” rewarding them with praise and a treat when they do. Then, the other person repeats the process. Take two steps back each time, and every fourth or fifth time, just offer praise; don’t call. See how far apart you two can venture!
What You Need: toy box or basket, various dog toys
Have your dog pick up a toy while you hold up their toy box. Tell them to “Drop it!” and praise them when they do. Repeat with the next toy. Once they understand the idea of the game, put the toy box on the floor and guide your pet over to it instead.
Come When Called
What You Need: dog toys or dog treats
Start this game by calling your dog to “Come” to you. Put your dog in a Sit/Stay position, then move away. Wait a minute or so, then call “Come.” Repeat the process, increasing the distance you move, the length of time before you call, or both factors each time. This is an excellent game for dogs with attention-seeking behaviors, as it teaches them to wait for your commands.
What You Need: leash, and pole, stick or other object
This is a fun one! Start with your dog on a leash and hold a pole or a stick an inch or two off the ground. Have your dog walk over the obstacle, then praise them. Repeat, raising the pole or stick each time (be sure to move your pet back and let them get a running start). Once they master the pole, try a hula-hoop!
Hide & Seek
What You Need: Your imagination!
Bring your dog into a room and tell them to “Stay.” Next, go into another room, hide, and call your dog. Try not to give away your location by laughing!
Work for Your Dinner
Treat-rewarding puzzles, such as Bark Buster's GameChanger®, and numerous others available in today's market, make your dog work for his treats. You can even use kibble with the toys to feed your dog his entire meal.
We may be stuck inside temporarily, but you and your dog don’t need to be bored!
Games and tricks can be a fun and rewarding bonding experience and help alleviate any stress you or your dog may feel. In addition, playing interactive games with your dog uses your dog's brain power, and like training exercises, help keep your dog's focus on you!