11 Indoor Activities For Dogs If You Can’t Get Outside

SAMI MULTASUO

Going to the dog party may not always be an option. To keep your pup from going stir-crazy, here are some things to do with your dog when you’re stuck inside.

Whether the weather is bad or you’re under a stay-inside order, going to the dog park may not always be an option. But, fortunately, there are a number of indoor dog activities you can do to keep them happy and well-exercised. Not only is enrichment important for their mind, but it will help keep them healthy.

“The amount and type of exercise your dog may need will vary based on breed, age, and overall health,” Dr. Kurt Venator, a veterinarian in the Chief Veterinary Office for Purina, tells Woman’s Day. “But in general, I recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise daily for most dogs. With a regular exercise routine and proper nutrition, dogs will be able to maintain a healthy weight and prevent developing joint or other health issues later on in life.”

Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the playtime you usually get outdoors. Here’s a list of fun things to do when you can’t take your dog outside that will help you bond with your pup and make sure they don’t go stir-crazy. Some of these activities will even get you a bit of exercise too.

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Try tug of war.

Alex Johnson, senior designer & pet enrichment specialist at Purina, suggests buying a tug toy to help your dog get rid of some excess energy. Playing tug can also be a great way to train dogs, teach them self control, and prevent or redirect an “inappropriate use of teeth,” according to Whole Dog Journal.

Veterinarian Julie Taylor tells Woman’s Day that tug is also a great game for large dogs in small spaces.

Indoor dog activities hide the treat
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Play hide-and-seek with treats.

Taylor recommends playing “hide the treat,” or another scenting game, with small and medium dogs who don’t need as much space to roam. Start out by letting them see where you hide the treat. After that, hide the treat in another room and then let them search for it. Make sure you use very scented treats.

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Play fetch in a new way.

You can usually play fetch safely with small and medium-sized dogs inside, depending on the size of your home. But with large dogs, that might be a lot harder. Johnson of Purina recommends throwing toys up and down the steps of your home or hallways of your home or apartment building, assuming your landlord permits it and no one is using those areas. “You could even set up a schedule with neighbors to alternate times for pets to play in the hallways or in the basement/garage,” she says.

Set up an obstacle course.

An obstacle course is great for people who have limited space but who want to thoroughly exercise their dogs, Taylor says. Use pillows, furniture, a staircase in your home (if you have one), laundry hampers, boxes with both ends open, and blankets to create jumps, tunnels, and small forts for your dog to explore. You’ll have to train them with treats or other positive reinforcement so they know how to use it, which will be fun for both them and you.

Play from the couch.

Johnson recommends keeping a basket of toys near the couch so you can play even while you’re catching up on the latest season of your favorite show.

Play from the couch.

Johnson recommends keeping a basket of toys near the couch so you can play even while you’re catching up on the latest season of your favorite show.

Teach your dog to pull their weight.

Train your dog to pick up their own toys. It might seem possible, but there are dozens of videos and how-tos to help you do it. That will leave one less chore for you every day.

Buy or make a food puzzle game.

Dogs need mental stimulation just as much as they need physical exercise. Interactive food puzzles reward your dog’s natural drive to hunt and work for their food. They’re great for teething puppies, dogs who eat too fast or are picky eaters, and they give you a break if you need to finish a task, according to Preventive Vet. Here’s a list of interactive puzzle games, which includes how to teach your dog to use them, and how to make them yourself if you want to save some money.

Get your dog on the treadmill.

If you have a treadmill, Preventive Vet recommends swapping out your daily walk around the block with a 20-30 minute walk with your dog on the treadmill. You might have to coax them with treats at first and keep them on a leash. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can teach them to use the treadmill without you — but you should always supervise them while they’re on it.

Create a quiet space for them.

If you are home a lot, or if you have kids, your dog might want some me time. Gather blankets or your dog’s bed and some of their toys to put in a section of the house where they can still see you but where they can have some time to themselves if they want. Johnson recommends pretending they’re invisible when they’re in that space.

“Eventually, if the rule is followed, the dog or cat will know they will be left alone when in these zones,” she says.

Play the shell game

Take out three cups and a small ball or a treat. Let your dog watch you hide the treat or ball under one of the cups and then shuffle them. The game helps them work on their problem-solving skills, according to Puppy Leaks.

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