Things to Do With Your Dog Indoors: 15 Fun Ideas

Photo by Alexander Grey

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Are you noticing signs of restlessness in your furry friend? Being cooped indoors can dampen anyone’s spirits, including your dog’s. Imagine transforming your home into an alternative playground with surprises and challenges that keep tails wagging and boredom at bay.

I’ve curated a list of engaging things to do with your dog indoors that will foster a bond and lasting memories. These activities are designed to be simple yet stimulating, ensuring your dog can enjoy a fulfilling indoor experience without any hassle for you. Get ready to dive into a world of indoor fun where hide-and-seek and interactive toys are just the beginning. Say goodbye to the indoor blues and hello to a happy, active pup!

15 Fun Things To Do With Your Dog Indoors

Read on for a list of fun and realistic activities to keep your dog entertained indoors.

Snuffle Mat

Securing or crafting a snuffle mat is a straightforward yet effective way to amuse your dog indoors. This interactive toy can be tailored to fit dogs of any size and features a variety of textures like strings, ribbons, and fabric pieces, all designed to conceal treats or kibble. It taps into your dog’s olfactory abilities, encouraging them to sniff out hidden morsels, thus providing an excellent source of mental exercise by mimicking foraging behaviors. Engaging with a snuffle mat can keep your dog mentally sharp and satisfactorily entertained.

shiba inu burying its nose in snuffle mat dog toy

Dog Puzzle Toy

Puzzle toys are an exceptional choice for indoor enrichment, offering dogs a chance to engage their problem-solving skills. These toys, equipped with compartments for hiding treats, challenge your dog to figure out how to retrieve the hidden rewards. This interaction not only boosts their mental stimulation but also provides a source of entertainment. Puzzle toys can redirect their energy into a positive and satisfying activity for dogs prone to boredom or anxiety-induced destructive behavior.

Dog Treat Dispenser

Food-dispensing wobbler toys are another excellent option for indoor canine enrichment. As your dog learns to manipulate the toy to release the food, they receive both mental stimulation and a moderate physical workout. While similar to puzzle toys in concept, wobblers are distinct in their operation—releasing treats as the dog bats or nudges the toy. The joy and satisfaction your dog experiences upon successfully dispensing the treats can provide a sense of achievement and routine, making wobblers a rewarding indoor diversion.

Lick Mat

A lick mat is an innovative and enjoyable way to engage your dog. These mats, featuring unique textures and patterns, are designed for you to spread soft, lickable treats like yogurt, pumpkin, or peanut butter across their surface. As your dog works to lick off the treat, they experience both mental stimulation and a soothing effect, making it an excellent activity for anxious or high-energy dogs. For an added challenge and to prolong the enjoyment, try freezing the mat with the treat applied. This makes the task more engaging and can be a refreshing treat, especially on warmer days. The lick mat is a simple yet effective tool to keep your dog content and occupied.

Play Tug of War

Play with your dog in a spirited game of tug-of-war. Tug is a common favorite for many dogs and adapts well to indoor settings. This activity is not just a way to tire out your dog; it also engages your dog’s mind and fosters a deeper connection between you two. Establishing guidelines for tug-of-war can enhance your communication, teaching your dog when to hold on and when to release, turning the game into a teaching moment that reinforces good behavior.

Search for Treats

Creating an indoor treasure hunt by hiding treats around your living space is a delightful way to engage your dog. This activity leverages their keen sense of smell and encourages them to use their natural foraging skills. As they hunt for these hidden gems, they’re not just having fun but also honing their cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. This can also be an inventive way for your dog to earn their meals, adding an element of challenge to their daily routine and keeping boredom at bay.

Give Your Dog a Stuffed Kong

Give your dog a stuffed Kong to provide excellent mental enrichment. Kongs can be filled with various treats and foods, such as peanut butter, shredded cheese, or blueberries, providing a tasty puzzle for your dog to solve. Working to extract the treats offers a stimulating mental challenge and will keep your dog busy and content. Even when not filled, Kongs often remain a beloved toy for many dogs, a testament to their appeal.

small scruffy dog walking on treadmill

Hop on the Treadmill

While treadmills are commonly associated with human fitness, they can also be a boon for dogs. A treadmill session is an excellent way to exercise your dog and stay in shape, all within the comfort of your home. It’s ideal for maintaining your dog’s fitness routine, especially during inclement weather.

For those with high-energy breeds, a treadmill can provide the extra exercise needed to keep them calm and content. If you want to offer your dog a mix of mental engagement and physical activity without the need to venture outdoors, treadmill training could be an excellent choice.

Play Hide and Seek

Hide-and-seek offers a blend of mental and physical stimulation and can be a delightful indoor game for you and your dog. This game is versatile and can be modified to fit any indoor environment. Understanding your dog’s perspective and play habits can make hide-and-seek an inclusive activity, suitable even for dogs with lower energy levels or those in their senior years, ensuring they can enjoy playful interaction indoors.

Relax With a Chew

Offering your dog a chew is a fantastic way to encourage relaxation and mental stimulation indoors. Chews serve multiple purposes: they keep your dog engaged, promote dental health by cleaning their teeth, and can have a calming effect. By providing a suitable chew, such as a bone, benebone, or bully stick, you’re giving them a treat and a fun and beneficial activity to pass the time.

Rotate Dog Toys

Consider rotating their toys to maintain your dog’s interest in their playthings. This simple strategy ensures that your dog is regularly presented with a “new” toy, which can prevent boredom and keep their playtime exciting. Rotating dog toys means that each reappearance is like a discovery for your dog, keeping their playtime fresh and engaging. I regularly introduce this to clients who have dogs that get bored quickly with their toys, and they’re always pleasantly surprised when it works – give it a chance!

Play the Shell Game

Engaging your dog in the shell game is an entertaining way to keep both of you amused. This game, which involves concealing a treat beneath one of several cups and encouraging your dog to find it, is fun and mentally stimulating. As your dog uses their sense of smell to identify the correct cup, you can gradually increase the difficulty by adding more cups. Regular play enhances their problem-solving skills and provides valuable mental exercise.

Brush Up On Obedience Training

Revisiting obedience training is an excellent way to deepen the bond with your dog and refine their skills. Whether you’re reinforcing known commands or introducing new ones, this training is a mentally enriching activity that benefits you and your dog. It’s a constructive way to spend time together and ensures your dog remains well-behaved and mentally sharp. If you haven’t worked on obedience, let this be your sign to teach your dog to sit (and more)!

Create an Indoor Obstacle Course

Unleash your creativity and construct an indoor obstacle course that perfectly blends fun and challenge for your dog. Use pillows, boxes, and furniture to create tunnels, jumps, and weave poles that encourage agility and mental sharpness. This personalized course can be tailored to your dog’s size and skill level, ensuring they stay engaged and active. It’s a great way to exercise their body and mind and strengthen your bond as you guide them through each challenge. Plus, it’s a fantastic opportunity to train commands like ‘over’, ‘under’, and ‘through’ in a playful context.

Teaching tricks, sitting on the front paws. Man is playing with his maltese dog indoors at home.

Teach Your Dog a New Trick

Training your dog to do new tricks is a beautiful way to enrich their indoor experience. Dog training sessions keep your dog mentally stimulated and strengthen the bond between you as you work together towards a common goal. Learning new skills is not just entertaining for your dog; it also provides the cognitive stimulation sometimes lacking in an indoor environment.

Play Fetch

Fetch can be adapted for indoor play, provided you take some precautions. Choose a space that’s free of obstacles and has a non-slip floor to prevent any mishaps. Soft toys are ideal to avoid any breakages, and a hallway or a room with ample space is perfect for a mini-fetch session. This game can be a great way to work on your dog’s retrieval skills and ensure they get a dose of their daily exercise. It’s also an excellent way to reinforce commands such as ‘drop it’ in a controlled environment. Remember to keep the throws low and controlled to keep your dog safe and your home intact.

Relax With a Snuggle Session

If your dog loves to cuddle, settling down for a cuddle following a mental or physical activity session is a wonderful way to relax. This quiet time allows for a peaceful connection, reinforcing the bond between you and your pup. It’s a gentle way to show affection and appreciation for the day’s earlier efforts, providing comfort and companionship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Walking is a superb exercise and mental stimulant for dogs, yet it’s not the sole method for tiring them. Many dogs benefit from a heightened focus on mental challenges to reach a state of tiredness. When outdoor conditions are less than ideal, you can forgo the walk in favor of indoor activities. Below, you’ll find diverse suggestions designed to exhaust your dog mentally and physically without stepping outside. From engaging snuffle mats to stimulating puzzle toys and even dog treadmills, there are various options to ensure your dog expends energy indoors.

Yes, dogs can experience boredom if they spend the entire day indoors, especially if they don’t receive sufficient mental and physical stimulation. The extent to which a dog gets bored can vary widely based on their breed, age, energy level, and individual personality. Some dogs may be content with a more sedentary lifestyle, while others may become restless without regular activity.

Signs that your dog might be bored include:

  • Excessive licking or chewing on themselves or objects
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Frequent barking or howling with no apparent trigger
  • Overexcitement when you pay attention to them, indicating a lack of sufficient interaction
  • Attempts to escape or constant gazing out of windows
  • Following you around the house more than usual

To combat boredom, you can introduce mentally stimulating activities such as:

  • Interactive feeding toys that make your dog work for their food
  • Hide-and-seek games where your dog has to find you or treats you’ve hidden
  • Training sessions to learn new commands or tricks
  • DIY obstacle courses using furniture or boxes
  • Toys that require manipulation with paws or nose to release treats

Mentally stimulating toys for dogs might include:

  • Interactive puzzles where dogs must solve a problem to receive a reward
  • Treat-dispensing balls that release food as they are rolled around
  • Toys that emit sounds or have different textures to keep the dog’s interest
  • Automated toys that move unpredictably, simulating prey
  • Scent games where dogs have to locate a scent hidden in a toy
  • These toys and activities can help keep your dog’s mind sharp and alleviate indoor monotony. It’s also beneficial to vary these activities to keep your dog engaged and prevent them from becoming bored with repetitive games.


While it might initially seem daunting to keep your dog entertained indoors, the various activities can make indoor time as enjoyable as outdoor adventures. With interactive toys, engaging games, and training exercises, there’s no shortage of ways to ensure your dog remains happy and mentally stimulated inside. These activities enrich your dog’s life and strengthen the bond you share. So, even when the great outdoors isn’t an option, the indoor environment can be a source of endless fun for you and your furry friend.

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