Animal games and fun

6 Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. March 23, 2020
6 Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors

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There are many reasons we may have to stay inside. Whether it be adverse weather conditions, illness or any restriction issues which requires us to stay inside, we are not the only ones affected. When we have a dog in the family, we need to help ensure their physical and mental well-being. Dogs which are not properly stimulated can develop behavioral and health problems which can seriously affect their quality of life. Stress and anxiety are common results of a lack of engagement when kept indoors too long.

While a dog will need to exercise physically as well, when we are stuck inside, AnimalWised provides these fun activities which can be played with both puppy and adult dogs. These 6 games to play with your dog indoors are a great way to keep them happy even when you can't go outside.

  1. Types of indoor activities for your dog
  2. Games to avoid stress in dogs
  3. The endless possibilities of a cardboard box
  4. Hide and seek scent game
  5. Homemade fishing pole toy
  6. Tug of war
  7. Musical relaxation game

Types of indoor activities for your dog

If you and your dog are unable to leave the home, we still need to keep them stimulated and entertained. While it may not be ideal, there are plenty of activities which we can do together. These include:

  • Intelligence games
  • Playing with toys
  • Training activities
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Bonding exercises
  • Fitness games

These games and activities will help you keep your dog entertained, as well as helping you to strengthen your bond together. Below we look closer at some indoor activities you can do with both puppies and adult dogs.

Games to avoid stress in dogs

Some may find it hard to believe dogs can become stressed, but they are actually very sensitive animals. They are susceptible to stress due to many different factors, such as a lack of exercise, poor education, insufficient mental stimulation, loneliness and many others. When a dog has to remain indoors for prolonged periods of time, any tendency towards stress may be heightened.

When a dog does suffer from stress or anxiety, it will likely manifest in one or more of the following ways:

  • They become nervous and easily excited at even the smallest stimulus.
  • Their behavior changes drastically depending on the circumstance. For example, they may be shy and reserved around some people and aggressive toward others.
  • They struggle to relax and their sleeping patterns are disrupted.
  • They are overly dependent on their guardians and become lethargic.
  • They may urinate or defecate inside the home, even though they have previously been house trained.

If your dog manifests these symptoms, we recommend taking them to a veterinarian immediately. Firstly, they will be able to determine whether these changes are due to a mental, and not physical, problem. Secondly, they can best help advise us given your dog's individual status.

One of the best ways to help your dog avoid stress is to use a kong toy. This is a special toy which has a hollow inside into which we are able to put some food or a treat. It will take some effort for the dog to get to the food, but with patience and practice, they will eventually be able to reach it. This indoor game helps to stimulate the dog's mind while also helping to reward them in a positive way.

6 Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors - Games to avoid stress in dogs

The endless possibilities of a cardboard box

The humble cardboard box can be both a wonderful distraction for your dog and an opportunity to avoid boredom when indoors. The box needs to be both sturdy and wide enough to hold your dog inside, so they may not always be possible with larger breeds. We also need to ensure the dog is supervised at all times as they may chew at the box and ingestion of cardboard is not good for them.

You may be able to let the dog play on their own with the box as some dogs will have a better play drive than others. However, there are also other possible indoor dog games where using a cardboard box can come in handy. They include:

  • Placing a treat inside the box as a prize. Allowing your dog to search out and discover it can be a good intelligence game and it also helps the dog make a positive association with the box.
  • We can use one or more boxes as an obstacle course for the dog to try out, jumping in and out or even through if you cut out the bottom.
  • Depending on your dog's skill level, with training you can get the dog to retrieve certain objects from the box. Or you can have different boxes and see if you can get them to go to the one you command.
  • You can even simply use the box as a refuge. You can do this by putting down a comfortable blanket and leaving their favorite toys inside. While it won't necessarily stimulate their mind very much, it can provide a stress-free environment when they are feeling cooped up.

If you want to use the cardboard box for training, it is important we have incentives. Treats and affection are great rewards and the clicker is a useful tool for commands.

Hide and seek scent game

A dog's sense of smell is extraordinary. Not only is it very acute, but it is the sense which least deteriorates as the dog ages. For this reason, this is a great game for puppies, adult or even senior dogs. By taking advantage of the millions of olfactory receptors in their nose, we can keep them entertained and mentally stimulated.

To start this game, we need to find objects with strong scents. These could be fruit, air fresheners, hygiene products or similar. We need to be very careful not to let the dog ingest anything which may be toxic to them. Ideally, we should use odors which are not familiar to the dog.

We infuse an object with the scent and let them smell it. We can associate this object with a word the dog can recognize. We then hide the object somewhere when they are not able to see us. By calling out the word, we can encourage the dog to find the object. Once they master this game, you can try associating different smells with different objects and get them to find the right one.

Homemade fishing pole toy

This game is a homemade version of a toy which can be very helpful when trying to keep our dog entertained. It is particularly good for helping them to exercise indoors, so it can be good for a rainy day. The fishing pole toy is one that is particularly attractive to our dog.

To make the toy, we need a meter-long pole, some string and a toy or stuffed animal which the dog likes. The game works as follows:

  • We tie the string to one end of the pole and affix the toy at the other end of the string.
  • Holding the pole, we hide around a corner or similar hiding place. While we are hidden, lay the toy part on the ground and call out the dog's name.
  • Move the toy on the ground slightly as if it were a live animal.
  • Once the dog starts to investigate the toy, we move it so the dog cannot get hold of it. We make the dog chase and play as if it were a real animal.

We shouldn't tease the dog too much. After a play session ends, make sure we allow the dog time to play with the toy off the pole.

Tug of war

This game is one which keeps the dog entertained and well as using physical exercise. However, it is also one we need to be careful with. The dog can become frustrated if we don't let them win every once in a while. It is also possible they will feel like you are trying to take away their resources. For this reason, it is very important we ensure the dog knows we are playing a game.

We need a suitable toy which is not too hard on their teeth. You can buy a rope toy from pet store easily, but you can also make your own by tying some strips of material together (old t-shirts work well). Wave the toy in front of the dog and then hold it as they try to wrest it from your hands.

As we said before, you need to ensure they win the game every few times. This will not only help their well-being, but encourage them to play with you again. When they give the toy back, you can give them a treat.

6 Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors - Tug of war

Musical relaxation game

Our last fun activity to play with your dog indoors can both stimulate your dog's mind and help them to relax. This is important in helping to reduce any stress related to keeping dogs inside. The 17th Century poet William Congreve once wrote that “[m]usic has charms to soothe a savage breast” and this can be true for your dog. Music therapy has effects which are diverse, positive and demonstrable in your dog's behavior.

To help your dog relax through music, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:

  • Find a place where your dog can lie down comfortably and relax.
  • Stay by their side and offer them as much affection as they are comfortable with.
  • Play music that dogs would like. This may be ones which incorporate howling, but generally music that is relaxing and soothing should work.

After five minutes, you should see the dog visibly relaxed. You will be able to tell if they are not enjoying it by their body language. You can also incorporate other fun activities to do with your dog indoors such as dog yoga. If you need help finding music to help your dog relax, check out this video below:

If you want to read similar articles to 6 Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors, we recommend you visit our Animal games and fun category.

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6 Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors