10 Indoor Activities for Dogs

Posted on Feb 6 2015 - 2:05pm by Susan Bewley

Disclosure: This post is part of a series of posts in partnership with Petbrosia to teach pet parents about pet health and the importance of pets staying healthy in the new year.

 10 Indoor Activities for Dogs

During the winter months, especially when it’s snowing outside, none of us want to spend a great deal of times outdoors. While our dog may want to go running and playing, we can only take very low temperatures for so long. As someone who own a ‘working dog’, its not too shocking that Reya would prefer running around and playing in the snow all day long. I personally am not a fan of temperatures in the teens, leaving Reya having short spurts of outdoor time. That being said, its my job to keep Reya active and happy throughout the winter . Like us, dogs need their daily exercise to keep their heart and muscles healthy.

Since many of us keep our dogs active outdoors, it is important that we play a variety of games indoors to keep our pups active during the winter! Below, I included 10 of our favorite indoor games!

  1. Tug of War – Before I go further on this one, make sure you know your dog’s limits. We didn’t play Tug of War in our household until all dominance issues were dealt with and Reya knew her commands well in case she got too excited. We usually play this with a rope and pull back and forth, letting Reya lead. If you don’t have time for this game, use something like the Tuggo that has built in weight that your dog can pull around and play with for this type of game!
  2. Hide & Seek – Like kids, dogs love hide and seek. This is an adorable game to play with your dog, and is a fantastic way work on command that could easily save your dog’s life outdoors. Tell your dog to STAY as you move and hide in the house. When you give the command to COME, have them find you and reward them with a treat. This will be a great way to get you and your dog exercising together!
  3. Puzzle Toys – While this may not get your dogs heart pumping, it will get them thinking. With dogs, a bored dog is usually a destructive dog. Get toys that encourage them to manipulate objects with their nose and paws to get them thinking and moving their muscles.
  4. Stairs – If you have stairs in your house, use them! Throw balls down the stairs, get out the laser pointer, and get your dog running! Don’t forget that you can run down them as well with your dog, getting back of you walking and running on those days when it is too cold and snowy to exercise.
  5. Play Dates – If you have only one dog, consider scheduling play dates with other dogs in your neighborhood. Give them time to play indoors and have fun. Just make sure they are dogs that know one another well first and you know the limitations of both dogs. We actually have toys that are only out when visiting dogs are over since Reya can be territorial with her toys.
  6. Agility Courses – As you might have guessed, I am all about making my Alaskan Malamute think and move. Practicing agility can be done with or without a leash (I prefer without in the house, but it can be great practice for puppies). What you do is move around furniture and various objects around your house, and teach your dog to weave around them, duck, crawl, and so on. This is a great time to work on commands as well. Just make sure to be frugal with the treat unless you know you are going to be VERY active.
  7. Fetch – In our household, Fetch isn’t something that is just played outdoors. Reya has a few soft toys and balls that we throw to her and throughout the house for her to catch. Make sure you have an area where you can’t accidentally break something and get your dog moving. We usually do this in the basement or a hallway.
  8. Scavenger Hunt – As silly as it may sound, scavenger hunts are a great deal of fun with dogs. Take your dogs favorite treats and hide a few of them around the house. By now, you have likely noticed dogs are fantastic scavengers (my poor trash can…) and love to put their nose to work in hopes of a food reward. Just make sure to hide them in approved places where you want your dog and take note of where you hid them so you don’t have issues later if all the toys aren’t found.
  9. Laser Pointer – In our household, the laser pointer is Reya’s most favorite toy. She will actually start nosing it on my husband’s desk in hopes of playing. Not only is the laser pointer a great for Reya to run throughout the house and up and down stairs, but it challenges her mind. We will move the laser throughout her range of sight, with it sometimes taking her a moment to spot and find it. At the end of this game, we usually have on happy, tired dog. Just make sure you have an open area for playing (we do this in the basement).
  10. Indoor Walking – As silly as it may sound, sometimes it’s fun getting Reya in the car and bringing her to a local pet store. She loves going to Petsmart, walking up and down the aisles, and greeting other dogs who came in with their mom and dad. While we usually do end up buying something, it’s a great way for Reya to let out some energy, play, and walk around the store.

From personal experience, I found that many of these activities usually end in a very tired dog if you play long enough. Of course, a tired dog is a happy dog!

sleepy Reya

Of course, it is also important that you monitor food during the winter and don’t give too many treats if you are dog is going to be less active. It is also crucial that you keep your dog on a healthy diet with nutritious food.



Susan Bewley is a professional writer who has been writing content online & in print format for over 10 years. As well, she is an alumni of the University of Louisville with a Masters Degree in Special Education. When not working as an online business consultant or ghost writing, she can be found writing on Budget Earth, on her own novel, or working with various entities in the pet industry.

22 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. laura rubenstein February 6, 2015 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    These are great activities to do with a pup. I especially like the Hide n Seek game.

  2. nancy munson February 6, 2015 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I didn’t realize there were puzzles for dogs, I have a big boxer that hates to be outside in winter, so these are great tips for us

  3. M.Clark February 6, 2015 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    This is a great list of indoor games to keep your dog active during the winter. Thank you for sharing this post.

  4. Miki February 6, 2015 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    This is super post! Thanks!

  5. Shannon February 7, 2015 at 4:02 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing all of these tips, my Sorcha hates having to stay inside in the winter. My dog loves cat toys more than dog toys for some reason…She thinks she is a cat…LOL

    • Susan Bewley February 7, 2015 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      I can’t say much. Reya licks her paws and baths herself like a cat…and she loves playing with cat toys too. *sigh* Nothing is funnier than seeing her trying to manipulate a tiny cat toy with her big paws.

  6. MattieDog February 9, 2015 at 8:31 am - Reply

    These are ideas for things to do with your dog during the cold, Winter months! One of the things we lub is a sock! I know, who would have guessed – but we have a great time with a little tennis ball tucked inside the sock, we have our own tug-of-war time!

    Mattiedog, A Little Dog Making a Big Difference in This World

    • Susan Bewley February 9, 2015 at 8:42 am - Reply

      My mom’s dog absolutely LOVES socks! The only reason I don’t have that on the list is Reya tries to eat them! lol!

  7. Felissa (Two Little Cavaliers) February 9, 2015 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Davinia will sometimes play with puzzle games but Indiana is like a bull in a china shop. She bangs at the puzzles until the pieces come flying out. I guess it counts but…

    We do stairs every time we go out for potty. Our house is split level so we mostly spend our time on the main floor but the only way to the yard is down the stairs. They also run down the stairs to the door when the mailman comes to deliver a package. Oh and when the neighborhood kids are riding their dirt bikes back and forth in front of the house.

    • Susan Bewley February 9, 2015 at 9:32 am - Reply

      Sorry, I couldn’t help but giggle with Indiana! We had this one puzzle toy we got for Reya that didn’t work at intended. She tried for two minutes and then said forget this. A minute later she flipped it and started shaking it until the pieces and treats came out. Umm…I guess that kinda works…lol!

  8. Cathy Armato February 9, 2015 at 9:46 am - Reply

    These are all really good ideas! I just started playing hide the treat w/ my dogs, they love it! Taking them to PetSmart is also a favorite activity, and it’s great for socialization.

  9. Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady February 9, 2015 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Keeping our pets busy indoors is so important! Especially when the weather doesn’t permit a whole lot of outdoor time.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  10. Kia February 9, 2015 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Those are some great indoor activities! I want to get Simba a puzzle toy soon to see how he does at it. He’s so smart!

  11. Amy February 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    I like the scavenger hunt one. I’ll need to put him in the bathroom while I hide the treats, or else he’ll ruin the game!

    • Susan Bewley February 9, 2015 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      Well, STAY is very hard when I have treats. Usually my husband has to distract her. lol

  12. Pawesome Cats February 9, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Great indoor activities with your dog – some of these work with cats too – our guys love the laser pointer.

  13. Kama February 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    These are some very good games to play indoors! Though, being from Arizona, these are games I play in the SUMMER when you feel like you’ll melt when you go outdoors.

  14. Christina Berry February 9, 2015 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Lots of great activity ideas here! Thanks for sharing! We spend a lot of time playing tug-of-war and hide and seek, and Miss Nike loves a good puzzle! Will definitely share this with our FB friends!

  15. lisa February 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Hide and seek is such a cute idea. It’s almost like having a little kid around. The games sound like fun for both the dog and owner. Animals can be so funny. Oh, and I really want that dog! It’s beautiful!

  16. Rachel Sheppard February 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Tug of war and playdates are our go-to indoor activities! Great list!

  17. Lisa Coomer Queen February 10, 2015 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    These are awesome! Great activities for those bad days. Thanks!

  18. angela February 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    My dog goes to daycare most days so by the time she gets home she is worn out. One thing we work on at home is scent training… I will put an essential oil on several cotton swabs. I will hide all but one around the house and have her find them based on the one I kept. I use to play with lasers but read around that it can be poor for the dogs self esteem. They case it by high prey drive but never have a tangible reward. Now we get fetch in the house with soft toys.

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