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3 Fun Indoor Games to Play With Your Dog

Rainy day? These activities will keep your dog (and you!) from going stir crazy.

by Daniela Lopez
January 1, 2021
Shetland sheepdog sits in front of a obstacle course in the living room
Katja / Adobe Stock

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If you’ve got a dog like mine, getting them out of the house during the cold winter months is tough. On rainy days? Forget about it. They look at you with pleading eyes while hunkering down for fear they might melt.

Once I eventually get my dog outside, they do their business and run right back inside. So, during the winter months, in order to keep my dog (and myself) from going stir crazy, I’ve learned a few indoor agility ideas from fellow dog lovers.

Here are some strategies I use to keep my dog busy when it's too cold/rainy/snowy to play outdoors.

Create An Indoor Obstacle Course

This is a great way to keep your dog active. Start by creating a course that works in your home safely — for example, you could have your pup: tunnel through a cardboard box, jump around pillows, and then jump through a hula hoop. It’s important to start slowly, adding one obstacle at a time, until you can safely build up to five or six steps.

At my house, we typically use a few items for obstacle courses:

  • Old couch cushions: We’ve kept a set of 6 (rather large) cushions from a previous IKEA couch and allow our kids and dogs to play with them. They make great tunnels and landing pads because they are large and sturdy.

  • Cardboard boxes: The big ones are great for tunnels, and the small ones are perfect for dogs to jump over.

  • Poofs: When we feel like adding a bit of challenge, we add in a poof. Floor poofs are small floor pillows that can be used as a stool. They’re smaller than the couch cushions, so they are a bit more difficult to land on.

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Again, use what you have — pillows and rolled-up blankets work well, too. You can use this time to help your dog explore new surfaces and textures. Think: rough doormats, aluminum foil, silicone mats, or even walking across cardboard.

Once you’ve set up some obstacles, have your dog start at the beginning. You can encourage them by leading them through the exercise with a treat. Just as with any training, start slow, and once it clicks, you can add in a verbal cue. Above all else, remember to have fun and celebrate every success with a treat.

Try Indoor Boot Camp

If your dog is not one for agility, consider doing a basic reinforcement boot camp. Indoor training is the perfect time to shore up your dog’s skills by practicing important behavior cues like come, stay, and leave it. So don’t waste the opportunity!

Play the Game "Toy Search"

Other fun indoor games include canine nose and hide & seek, but what if you mix it up a bit? Try playing a variant on these with a game called "toy search." Here's how:

  • Start with your dog in the sit position. 

  • Next, place a toy on the floor. 

  • Once you release your dog, reward them for getting the toy.

Do this a few more times before adding in a verbal cue. With a bit of practice, your dog will be able to search for toys farther away and even under other objects.

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daniela lopez

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.