Don’t let the weather keep your dog from getting the exercise they need!
Whether you’re dealing with the cold weather like our ND winters, a rainy day, or super hot temperatures (granted I may be biased on what is considered hot) there are many activities that you can do inside with your dog.
From playing hallway fetch to having a puppy playdate, there’s something on this list for every dog.
Get out some toys and treats, and let the games begin! Your dog is sure to have a blast.
Check out our list of indoor activities for dogs today!
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The benefits of indoor activities for dogs
Having activities to do with your dog indoors gives you options for when there is bad weather outside.
Indoor activities provide mental stimulation and physical exercise. Some of the activities provide just one of these while others provide both.
Indoor dog games are also a great way to bond with your pet.
Indoor activities are a lifesaver on days when you just can’t play outside or go on a long walk. They’re perfect for rainy days, cold days, or anytime you need to stay inside.
Indoor activities for dogs
Here is a list of 35 fun indoor activities to do with your dog along with a quick explanation of how to play it.
Hallway fetch is the same as the game of fetch that is played outside, except that it is played in the hallway. You can play it with any toy your dog likes, though some toys, like a tennis ball, are easier to throw than others.
If your dog is young or tends to get into mischief when unsupervised, shut all the doors in the hallway so they can’t get out of sight.
Then just throw the toy down the hallway for your dog to get and bring back to you. Play for as long as you and your dog like.
Hallway fetch is also a good way to start teaching fetch as it limits where your dog can go before bringing the ball back to you.
Stairway fetch is like hallway fetch, except it is played with a stairway. If you have a young dog or an old dog, or one with joint issues, you should not play this with them as it can stress their joints.
If you are unsure whether this is alright for your dog, talk to your vet before playing it.
To play this all you do is throw the ball down the stairs for your dog to go chase after and bring it back to you.
I like to combine hallway fetch with stairway fetch when I play fetch indoors with Luna. Since running up and down the stairs may be bad for her joints I limit the number of times I throw the toy down the stairs.
I start by just throwing it down the hallway until she starts to predict me. Once she starts running down the hallway before I throw the toy, I toss it down the stairs.
This limits the number of times she runs up and down the stairs while also adding in the challenge of not knowing where the toy will go next.
I will add that I live in a home that does not have steep stairs. If your house has a steep stairway, you may want to avoid stairway fetch.
Tug of War
Tug of war is a classic game that can be played indoors or outdoors. It’s a great way to play and bond with your dog while also getting some exercise.
To play tug of war, you will need a toy for your dog to hold on to. I like using this DIY rope toy for this game as they are easy to make and very durable.
You can also use a rope toy that you bought from the store or any other toy that your dog can hold on to.
To start playing, have your dog grab one end of the rope in their mouth while you hold on to the other end. Then start playing by moving the rope back and forth. Once your dog gets the hang of it, let them do all the pulling and moving.
Make sure to let your dog win some of the time so they don’t get discouraged.
Here is more information about how to teach your dog to play tug.
Tug-a-jug is a great toy if your dog loves tug of war, but you don’t want to play it as much as your dog. Instead of tug of war with a person, your dog plays tug of war with a jug of treats.
Your dog will need to push, pull, and twist the rope to get the treats to fall out of the jug.
This can be challenging, causing your dog to stay busy with it for a long time.
Supervise your dog with this to make sure they don’t pull out small pieces of the rope toy.
Hide and Seek
Just like the hide and seek most of us played as children, this game requires at least two people to play it. This is a great game to include your children in, especially on those days when neither can go play outside.
All you have to do is have your child or another adult hide from your dog. Make sure that where the person hiding goes is accessible to your dog. A couple of good hiding places are behind an open door or behind furniture.
Once the person is hidden, tell your dog to go find them. The first few times you play you may need the person hiding to call the dog. This encourages your dog to come to find them.
Once the dog finds the hiding person they should give the dog some praise.
Find the toy
This is a simple game that can be played with just your dog and a toy, though it can be easier with a second person.
Get your dog’s favorite toy and show it to your dog and give it a squeak (if it squeaks). Then hide it behind you or under a pillow.
Tell your dog to “find it” and praise them as they get closer to finding it.
Once your dog has found the easily hidden toy, have another person (if available) hide the toy a little farther away while you keep your dog still. Once the toy is hidden tell them to “find it” and praise them as they get closer to the toy.
As your dog gets better at finding the toy, you can start hiding it in more difficult places. This is also a good game to play while you watch tv since there are so many places you can hide it near you without having to leave the room.
Find the treats
Find the treats is another simple game and because it involves treats, most dogs enjoy it.
To play this start with your dog in a stay or have them go in their kennel. Then, hide several of the same treats around your house.
Once you have all the treats hidden, let your dog sniff (and eat) one of the same treats that are hidden. Tell them to “find it” and they will sniff all over your house trying to find all the hidden treats.
Many dogs will find all the treats, but it is possible some will get missed. Once your dog is done, I recommend checking to see if all the treats have been found.
A flirt pole looks like a giant cat toy. It’s a pole with a rope attached at one end. On the other end of the rope is a toy for your dog to grab.
To use a flirt pole your dog must have a decent “let go” or “give” command. You hold the pole and wave it to get your dog to chase and grab at the toy. Once your dog gets the toy, tell them “let go” and give them a treat. Then repeat.
This is a great way to teach your dog impulse control since they have to release the toy when you tell them. It’s also great for working on your dog’s coordination.
Keep your sessions short so your dog doesn’t get too tired from the running, jumping, and twisting they will do to try to get the toy.
For safety, play on a non-slip surface to prevent your dog from falling.
Also, put the flirt pole away where your dog can’t get it when you aren’t using it. Flirt poles are not designed to be used unsupervised. An unsupervised dog could end up destroying the flirt pole and swallowing pieces of it that could cause serious issues.
Chase is a simple game that requires no equipment to play. It’s also a great way for you to get some exercise at the same time as your dog. The only issue with chase is that you will probably tire out from it faster than your dog, at least I do 😂.
All you have to do for this one is get your dog’s attention and run away. Your dog will chase you and try to catch you. Once your dog catches you, reward them with praise and excitement.
You can repeat this as many times as you want until you or your dog are tired.
One warning, if you have a large dog like Luna, you will want to limit the excitement and teach them what to do when they catch you. I have been bruised many times by Luna jumping on me when she is excited.
By limiting the excitement, and teaching your dog what to do when they catch you, the bruises should be avoided.
This may not be a good game for those that have young children that have a tendency to run away from your dog as the dog may not understand when chase is okay and when it isn’t.
Blowing bubbles for your dog is another cheap and easy activity to do indoors. All you need is some non-toxic bubbles, like these steak and bacon bubbles for dogs.
To do this you just blow some bubbles and point to them, encouraging your dog to chase them.
If your dog seems unsure about the bubbles, try catching some yourself to show them it’s alright.
Only play this for a short amount of time since the bubbles could cause stomach upset if your dog eats too many in one day.
Also, wipe off your dog’s face when you are done to prevent eye irritation if any bubbles popped on their face.
Monkey in the Middle
This simple game requires two people and a favorite toy of your dog’s.
To play this game have one person stand with the toy and the other person stand several feet away with your dog in the middle.
Then toss the toy from one person to the other while your dog runs back and forth trying to catch the toy.
Let your dog catch the toy every few tosses, otherwise, they may get frustrated. Your goal is to have fun with your dog, not to frustrate them. Vary how often they are allowed to catch it so your dog doesn’t begin to predict when they will get the toy.
If you’re as bad at catching this as I am you won’t need to plan on dropping the toy for your dog, they’ll get plenty of chances to get it without you even trying.
To add a little difficulty to the game you can try putting a small hurdle, like a rolled-up blanket, in the middle for your dog to jump over.
This simple treat game uses your dog’s natural scenting ability to choose which of your hands has a treat.
When you first teach this game you want to use small, smelly treats but after that, any treat should work just fine.
To start, show your dog your open hands with a treat in one. Then put your hands behind your back and put the treat in either hand.
Bring your hands back in front of you and show both fists to your dog. Your dog should then signal which hand they pick. They may do this by using their paw, pointing, or barking at one hand. Luna even likes to lick my hand if she thinks there is a treat in it.
Show your dog the hand they picked, and if it’s the correct hand give them the treat.
If it’s the wrong hand, show that it’s empty and try again.
Those dogs that have a stronger scenting ability may get this game more quickly, but the longer you play it becomes less about ability and more about luck.To learn more about this game, and how to make it harder, check out the post The Which Hand Game.
The shell game (or three cups)
The shell game is a variation on the which hand game that uses plastic cups instead of your hands. It is easier to teach this game after your dog has mastered the which hand game.
The shell game is a great game to make your dog think and to test their problem-solving ability.
To start take one cup and place a treat under that cup. Then have your dog either tip the cup over or touch the cup and then give them the treat.
Once your dog understands that there is a treat under the one cup, add a second cup. Then add a third, showing your dog which cup has the treat each time.
Once your dog reliably chooses the right cup with this method, make it more difficult by moving the cups around once the treat is in place.
If you don’t have cups you can use boxes or any other small container that isn’t see-through.
Tag with your dog is a great way to reinforce their recall. To play this game you need two people and a few treats. You can play this anywhere you have some space, like a hallway.
To play you have one person at one end of the hall and the other person at the other end of the hall with your dog between you.
One person starts by calling your dog by name. Give your dog some praise and a treat when they get to you. Then the other person does the same.
Once your dog gets the hang of it you can make it more difficult by having each person go into different rooms.
The only downside I have found with this game is that Luna and Morgan both start to just run back and forth between us, not even waiting for the treat and praise. It does give them more exercise but reduces the mental challenge.
When this happens we start randomly throwing in a sit command to make them pause. They love this game, probably because it combines their two favorite things, treats and attention.
Dogs can use a treadmill, just like people. They just need a little training and constant supervision. Though they can use a regular treadmill, there are also treadmills made specifically for dogs.
The treadmills made for dogs can be a little pricey, but if you plan on using it regularly may be a worthwhile investment.
To get your dog to use a treadmill you need to start with letting your dog get used to it while it’s still off.
Once your dog is used to it off, you can start it at a slow speed and slowly work up to a comfortable pace for your dog, but keep it on the slower side.
To encourage your dog you can offer treats from the front end of the treadmill.
The treadmill should only be used for a short period of time each day, about 5 to 10 minutes daily.
For safety, never leash your dog to the treadmill. Also never leave your dog unattended while they are using the treadmill.
Indoor Obstacle Course
Blankets and chairs could make a tunnel. A hula-hoop can be used to have your dog jump through. Upside-down laundry baskets make a good jump for larger dogs. Use your imagination and be creative.
Once you have your agility course set up encourage your dog to go through it. You may need to use some treats to lead your dog through the course the first few times.
But once they are used to it they should be able to run the course just to reach you. Give your dog lots of praise when they complete the course by themselves the first few times.
Always have your obstacle course on a sturdy, nonslip surface, like a carpeted hallway.
Start slowly and never force your dog if they are scared. Some dogs just don’t enjoy obstacle courses. Of my dogs, Luna loves to jump things, but Morgan would prefer to walk around them.
Use your judgment and listen to your dog if an obstacle is too scary or challenging for them.
Teach a New Trick
Teaching your dog new tricks is good mental stimulation for your dog. No matter the age of your dog, they can always learn a new trick.
If you have a young puppy, or you haven’t mastered the basic commands, start with those first. Basic commands are those like sit, down, and stay. Those will be discussed a little more in obedience training below.
Once your dog knows the basics, you can start teaching them some tricks. Some ideas are: place (or go to bed), sit pretty, play dead, roll over, back up, crawl, hug, kiss, leg weave (may be easier with the little dogs), open/close the door, speak, shake, take a bow, wave, and high five.
For more ideas, and tips for teaching them, see this book.
It’s always best to end your training session on a positive note. If the trick you are trying to teach is too challenging, end with a trick your dog knows. And be sure to praise them when they do it.
No matter what the weather is outside, spending 15 minutes a day teaching your dog a new trick is a great idea.
Working on your dog’s obedience training is another great activity no matter what the weather is outside. All dogs should know the basic commands of sit, down, stand, stay, leave it, and come.
If your dog doesn’t know these, start with teaching them. This book has some good tips if you are just starting obedience training.
If your dog already knows them, work on reinforcing them and slowly increasing the difficulty. You can increase the difficulty by adding distractions or increasing your distance from your dog.
You can make this time more fun by using treats and toys in your teaching and practicing.
Any time spend reinforcing these commands makes it more likely your dog will respond properly if you need them to.
Puppy pushup is a great game for kids to practice two basic commands with your dog. All you need for this game is some treats and for your dog to have a decent understanding of the sit and down commands.
To do a puppy pushup you first tell your dog to sit. Once they are sitting tell them to lay down. Then sit again. This is one pushup.
At first treat after each pushup, but then treat randomly.
If your dog gets really good at this type of pushup, and they know the command, stand, you can add in a stand after a sit. Do it randomly so your dog can’t predict what you want.
This was a favorite of my kids when they were younger. They loved being able to have Morgan do a puppy pushup.
Morgan did so many puppy pushups in her first year of life that she still resorts to sit, down, sit when she wants some food that we have 🤣.
The classic Kong
The classic Kong is a great interactive food toy. The Kong can keep your dog busy for over an hour depending on what you fill it with, and how determined your dog is.
You can fill the classic Kong with all sorts of things like kibble, treats, fruit, veggies, yogurt, and peanut butter. To keep the food in the Kong, and to make it more challenging, you can “seal” the ends with peanut butter or yogurt and then freeze the Kong.
Freezing the filled Kong makes it harder for your dog to get all the food, making it take longer for them to get all the food out.
If you get a few of these you can keep a couple in the freezer and have one ready whenever you want to give one to your dog.
The Kong Wobbler is a great toy to use when you want to give your dog something to do or to make their meals take longer. The largest one, the one I use for Luna, holds about 1 cup of food at one time.
To get the food or treats out, your dog will have to push the Kong wobbler to knock it over. If it falls right, some food will fall out of the hole on the side.
It does a great job of slowing down a dog’s eating and also makes them problem solve on how to get the food out of it.
The only downside is that the hole isn’t really large. A large piece of kibble may not fit through the hole. To prevent frustrating your dog, make sure the kibble fits through the hole before giving it to your dog.
Snuffle mats are made out of fabric that is interwoven in a way to make it “mimic” grass. You then hide your dog’s food, or treats, in this fabric “grass” and place the mat on the floor for your dog to use.
Your dog then uses their nose to sniff around and get the pieces of food that you hid.
This is a great food puzzle for dogs that struggle with harder puzzles or for those that you want to challenge a little for their food, but don’t need to slow down.
Whether you buy one or make your own, these are not chew proof. Supervise your dog while they are using it.
Puzzle toys are great interactive toys for dogs. These provide mental exercise for your dog by making them figure out the puzzle.
Many dog puzzles involve hiding food inside something and letting the dog figure out how to get the food out. Other types of puzzles involve getting a smaller toy out of a bigger toy.
The best thing about puzzles for dogs is there are so many options including DIY and store-bought.
One puzzle game is the hide-a-squirrel, one of the few options I’ve seen that doesn’t involve food. This one has your dog pull a stuffed squirrel out of a stuffed log. The prize is then getting to play with the stuffed squirrel that squeaks.
Muffin Tin Game
To set up the game put a small treat in each muffin cup and cover it with a tennis ball.
Then put the game on the floor for your dog to find the treats. They just have to get the tennis balls off to get the treats.
Once your dog understands that moving the tennis balls results in treats you can make it more challenging by putting treats in only half the spots while still covering all the spots with tennis balls.
Some dogs may find this game too easy, but many will still enjoy getting the treats. This is also a great game to have kids set up and play with your dog.
Dog IQ test
You can test your dog’s IQ by doing this one by Hill’s, or just search for dog IQ test on your favorite search engine.
There are many variations of this test, but they all revolve around seeing how your dog responds to various commands.
This can be an entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Teach your dog the names of their toys
This is a great rainy day activity for dogs and their humans. Start by picking out a few of your dog’s toys.
Then, one at a time, show your dog each toy and say the name of the toy as you give it to your dog to play with. After they have played with it for a minute or so, put the toy away.
Do this a few times with each toy until your dog seems to understand that when you say the name of the toy, they will get to play with it.
Once they have learned the names of a few toys you can start adding in more until they have learned the names of all of their toys.
Train your dog to pick up their toys
This is a great thing to teach those dogs that love to leave their toys all over the place. Your dog does need to know the “take it” and “drop it” commands. Once they know those, they should be able to learn how to pick up their toys.
Start by getting a basket, a few dog toys, and some treats. Pick somewhere to put the basket and leave it there. It’s easier to teach this if the basket doesn’t move.
Once you have the basket where you want it, put a few toys next to it. Point to one of them and say “take it.” Then lure your dog so the toy is over the basket and say “drop it.”
When the toy falls in the basket, give your dog the treat. Repeat this with the other toys you have next to the basket.
Once your dog has the hang of it, start the sequence with the phrase “clean up” or “toys away” or something similar. Your dog should eventually connect that phrase to the whole sequence.
As your dog becomes more consistent, you can start giving them a treat after multiple toys are put in the basket.
Indoor dog park
If your town has an indoor dog park, you can take your dog there when the weather is bad. This can be a great option for those dogs that enjoy going to a dog park.
Morgan doesn’t like most other dogs, so this isn’t an option for her. Luna, on the other hand, enjoys playing with one or two other dogs, but more than that and she gets overwhelmed. So dog parks don’t work well for her either.
Having never been to one, I don’t know how good they are, but if your dog likes them, it’s worth looking into whether your town has one or not.
Try free shaping
Free shaping is a type of dog training. Instead of luring your dog into the behavior you want, you teach it gradually by marking it with a clicker and rewarding your dog for each step closer to what you want.
Karen Pryor Clicker Training has more information about this training method.
Groom your dog
If your dog isn’t big on games and other activities, you can spend some time grooming them. Grooming your dog allows you to spend some quality time with them while also getting them clean and keeping their coat healthy.
You can limit the grooming session to just brushing your dog or take it all the way and give them a brushing, bath, and nail trim.
Make a new dog toy
Many dogs love new toys, but they can get expensive. By making a new toy yourself, your dog gets the thrill of a new toy without you having to spend much or anything at all.
Here are a few tutorials for DIY dog toys:
Go to a dog-friendly store or brewery
If there is a dog-friendly store or brewery near you, take your dog for a visit. This can be a great way to get out of the house and explore somewhere new with your dog.
Take some time to research dog-friendly businesses in your area before you go to make sure they are truly dog-friendly and that your dog will be welcome.
Have a photoshoot
Dogs make great models, and a photoshoot is a fun activity for both you and your dog. All you need is a smartphone or camera, your dog, and some treats.
If your dog isn’t very cooperative, just practice their sit and stay while you take some cute photos of them.
Puppy playdates are a great way to burn some doggy energy on a snowy day (or really any day).
For an indoor puppy playdate, it is best for a dog that your dog already knows to come over. This way you know the two dogs already get along.
The bonus with a puppy playdate is that you get to hang out with a friend while the two dogs play together.
Relax on the couch
Finally, after spending time playing with your dog, you may want to spend some time just relaxing on the couch.
Some dogs will love to cuddle with you on the couch, while others may want a little distance. These dogs may be content laying near you or just in the same room with you. Let your dog decide how close they want to be.
So there you have it! Thirty-five indoor activities for dogs to keep them entertained all day long.
From playing fetch to cuddling on the couch, your dog is sure to find a favorite activity on this list.
So get out some toys and treats, and let the games begin!