Trying to provide your pooch with plenty of exercise can be tough, especially in the cold and wet winter months when neither of you want to be outside. It can also be difficult to find the time to exercise during the hot dog days of summer when your dog is at risk of heatstroke, or if you simply have an active breed like a Labrador or a Cocker Spaniel.
Plus, you and your pup might get bored of doing the same walk every day or playing the usual game of fetch. Sometimes we don’t all have the luxury of loads of space and time for long walks every day, so we need a few fun indoor games to play with our dogs to keep them entertained and active at home.
Games you can play inside provide your pup with extra exercise and enrichment, (whatever the weather), and they help to build your bond together through play.
If you’re already wondering “what games can I play with my dog indoors?” then look no further, we’ve fetched 5 quick and easy indoor games you can play with your dog.
How much exercise does a dog need?
How much exercise your dog needs will depend on their breed, size, age, and personality.
Little dogs like Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers can make do with a brisk half-hour walk or an hour of exercise every day. Meanwhile, bigger dogs and working breeds like Springer Spaniels and Labradors need an hour or two of exercise every day.
Dogs with working backgrounds, like Spaniels and Retrievers, usually need more exercise and enrichment than dogs that were bred to be companions. Your vet will be able to advise you on how much exercise your dog needs if you’re not sure.
What games can I play with my dog indoors?
Whether the weather is too wet to enjoy a long walk, too hot to be in the sun long, or you’re pressed for time, it can be difficult to get enough outdoor exercise. So here are five fun games to play with your dog indoors for some extra enrichment and activity.
Plus, you can play these games with your dog whatever the weather and regardless of how much space you have inside.
1. Scent games
Scent games are one of the best forms of exercise and enrichment you can give your dog whether it’s inside or outside. It encourages your dog to follow their super-powered nose to find hidden toys or treats. A few minutes of sniffing can be as stimulating as a long walk, and it can help to soothe anxiety and calm your dog.
A great way to do this is to take a portion of your pup’s dinner and hide it around a room of the house. Or you can hide a few of their favourite treats.
When you first play this game, you should put the treats in easy to see spots where you and your dog can easily reach them. This means your dog can find the food and avoid frustration whilst learning the game. As they get better you can hide the food in more tricky to reach places and across multiple rooms.
Just remember if you’re using treats for games, you should adjust your dog’s meals to make sure they aren’t overeating.
2. Hide and seek
You could get the whole family involved in a fun game of hide and seek, and it’s the perfect way to entertain everyone on a rainy day.
Like most of these games, you’ll need to start easy to help your dog understand what the aim of the game is. Start by going into another room or just hiding behind something simple like a chair, then call your dog to you. Remember to give them lots of praise when they find you.
You can start hiding in more difficult places as your dog gets the hang of it, each time calling for them to come and find you, or you can teach them a special command like “find!”.
If you don’t fancy hiding yourself, try hiding a toy and teaching your pooch to “find!” it.
Hide and seek gets your dog up on their paws and moving all around the house. Plus, they get to make the most of that brilliant sense of smell and hearing too for some extra stimulation.
3. The hand game & the cup game
These are two different games but they’re really similar.
In the hand game, hide a piece of food or a toy in one hand behind your back so your dog can’t see. You can also swap it between your hands behind your back to make it more challenging. Then hold your closed hands out for your dog to investigate and let them figure out which hand has the reward inside, giving them the reward and praising them if they’re right.
If they’re already good at the hand game, move on to the cup game. This is like that magic trick where a magician hides a ball under a cup, shuffles it about, and you have to guess where it is.
Just get three cups, yoghurt pots, or anything else you can hide something inside. Put a small treat or toy inside, cover it up, and shuffle the cups around. Once you’ve shuffled them, let your dog have a sniff and try to figure out which cup it’s under.
To make it even more challenging, rub the treat on one of the other cups before you play, so their nose must work even harder to figure out which one has the reward inside.
4. Tug of war
A good game of tug might already be one of your dog’s favourite games. But the simplicity of this game and the fact you can do it anywhere, anytime, makes it one of our favourites too. It’s great because you don’t need any space or fancy equipment, and if your dog gets really into the game, they’ll probably use almost every muscle in their body to try and win!
Just remember to make sure your dog “wins” every now and then, which will keep them interested, encourage them to play, and increase their enjoyment of the game.
It won’t make your dog aggressive or dominant to play tug or win, especially if you teach your dog the house rules and practice their training while you play. In fact, incorporating training into tug or other games can help to make your dog more obedient.
If you wanted to make a game of tug of war more interesting, incorporate some training into the play session. If your dog seems to lull in enthusiasm while playing, use a command like “drop” or “dead” to test your dog’s skills and see if they let go of the toy you’re playing with. If they don’t know that command yet, try working it into your game to teach them.
It’s a really useful command to know, and it’s a great way to teach your dog when playtime is over. It also helps to keep you and your dog safe while you play because you can end the game anytime.
5. Create an indoor obstacle course
This game is great fun for you, the dog, and the kids! It requires some space, but as long as you have a hallway or you can make some space in the living room, you should be fine. Plus, you can adapt the course to suit the space and obstacles that you have available.
First, find some empty floor space in your house, then find anything you can use to make some obstacles.
Cardboard boxes are great for this because you can let your dog jump over them, or open two ends and use them as tunnels. They’re also cheap and it doesn’t matter if they get damaged or chewed.
Couch cushions and pillows make great obstacles to jump over. You could also use shoes or stacks of books (or anything, really) in a line and get your dog to weave through them. If you’re getting them to weave through objects, they might have to follow a treat in your hand at first to get the hang of it.
The only limit to these courses is the space you have and your creativity when making the obstacles. But even a small course with just one or two jumps can work wonders at burning some energy and entertaining your dog, especially if you combine it with a game of fetch or some training.
Keeping your dog entertained indoors
As well as these five indoor games you can play with your dog, you could take some time to teach your dog a new trick or practice ones they already know.
Training is super stimulating for dogs and provides both physical and mental exercise, which is great for using up extra energy. It also helps to build your bond with your best bud and improve their obedience.
But if you’ve played games and done some training and need a few more ideas of things to do or toys to make to keep your dog entertained, try these DIY boredom busters for dogs.
There are tons of things you can do to keep your dog entertained indoors. From old classics like fetch and Kong toys stuffed with Pure, to more elaborate and active games like indoor agility courses, there’s something to suit every pooch’s needs.
You’re sure to find an indoor game for your dog that suits your space and time requirements, and whatever one you choose will keep the pair of you entertained and active even on a rainy day.