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5 Fun Indoor Games to Keep Your Dog Entertained When It's Too Cold Outside

Based on an article that first appeared at

As the cold weather sets in, our outdoor activities with our energetic canines inevitably get limited. But a drop in temperature or a bit more moisture doesn’t mean a dip in fun! There are plenty of engaging and mentally stimulating indoor games for your pup to keep them happy, active, and support them to maintain a healthy weight.

Here are five fun indoor games you can play with your dog:

(Complete with instructions and an explanation of how they benefit your pet!)

1. Hide and Seek – Classic Fun with a Twist

Hide and seek isn't just for kids; dogs love it, too! It's a great way to stimulate your dog's mind and satisfy their natural hunting instincts. Start by asking your dog to stay, then find a hiding spot in your house. Once hidden, call your dog and reward them with treats or affection when they find you. It’s a wonderful way to reinforce recall training and provides lots of laughs for you both. *To add to the difficulty, spread out some worn clothing in random spots to create a real indoor Sniffari!

Benefits:

  • Stimulates your dog’s mental capabilities and satisfies their natural instinct to search and hunt
  • A great way to reinforce recall commands
  • Can help shy dogs build confidence

American Eskimo dog playing with puzzle toy.

2. Obstacle Course – Indoor Agility

Create a mini agility course right in your living room using household items. Arrange chairs to weave through, blankets over tables to create tunnels, and pillows to jump over. Guide your dog through the course with treats and lots of encouragement. To up the ante, use puzzle toys at certain "pit stops" to add even more mental stimulation. This keeps them physically active and sharpens their listening skills and focus.

Benefits:

  • Stimulates your dog’s brain, keeps them occupied, and satisfies their natural puzzle solving instintcs
  • The faster or more difficult you make the course, the more physical activity your pup receives
  • This is particularly good for dogs that need a lot of mental and physical stimulation and can help prevent boredom-related behaviors

3. Treasure Hunt or The Cup Came– Sniffing for Treats

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and a treasure hunt game is perfect for putting this to use. Indoor scent games like a treasure hunt or the cup game are great options in this category. Hide treats around the house in places where your dog will have to sniff them out. Start with easy spots like their bed or favorite place to relax, and gradually make it more challenging by hiding treats under pillows, behind a door, or in the shower. (Cats tend to love this one, too!)

For pets who may have  mobility challenges or prefer to be a couch potato, "The Cup Game" is similar:

  1. Get three cups and a treat.
  2. Place the treat under one cup while your dog watches.
  3. Shuffle the cups around and encourage your dog to find the treat.
  4. Reward them when they choose the correct cup.

Benefits:

  • These games test and improve your dog's problem-solving skills and sharpen their sense of smell
  • These games engage their brain and nose, providing a full sensory experience

Goldendoodle playing tug-o-war.

4. Tug of War – A Test of Strength

Tug of war is a great indoor game that can help your dog use up some pent-up energy. Use a sturdy rope toy and engage in a friendly battle of strength with your pooch. This game also provides an opportunity to teach your dog to ‘drop it’ or ‘let go’, which is an important part of their training and can be mentally stimulating to add a level of 

Benefits:

  • Excellent for physical exercise and can be a good strength-building activity
  • Useful for teaching impulse control and commands

5. Bubble Chase – Popping Fun

If your dog loves to chase or play fetch, this game is a must-try. Dog-safe, non-toxic, allergen-free bubbles are available at most pet stores. Blow the bubbles and watch your dog have a blast trying to catch and pop them. This simple activity is surprisingly entertaining and can keep your dog busy for quite a while.

Benefits:

  • Helps to expend some of your dog’s pent-up physical energy and keeps them physically active
  • Builds confidence and bonding with pet and owner

Keeping Your Dog Engaged Indoors

These games are not just about keeping your dog physically active; they also provide essential mental stimulation and can strengthen the bond between you and your pet. They cater to a variety of instincts and needs, from the mental challenge of a puzzle to the physical exertion of tug of war, ensuring your dog stays happy and healthy, whatever the weather. Remember, a little creativity goes a long way in keeping your dog’s life enriching and fun, regardless of the season. Happy playing!

Is your pet putting on some winter weight? We can help you! If you have questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (630) 451-8459, or you can email us at orah@orchardroadanimalhospital.com. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram.

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