Indoor Activities and Games for Dogs



When the weather outside is frightful and you (or your dog) don’t want to venture outdoors but they’re still looking at you expectantly, what do you do? It’s going to be a long winter if you leave them to their own devices. And shorter days mean fewer good walking hours. Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to stimulate their brains and bodies indoors.

  • Nosework games. You can scatter food around the house for your dog to find or work on finding various odors. There are nosework kits for sale online or you could work with scents you have at home like dog-safe essential oils (preferably ones you don’t use often as to not confuse the dog).
  • Impulse control. Work on a good leave it around food. Train your dog to run to a mat or their crate when guests come over. Have them do a sit stay and wait for a release before throwing a toy.
  • Tricks. Tricks are a great way to exercise your dog’s brain. If you want to get fancy, you could work on behavior chains where your dog learns how to string together a series of cues into one big trick (cleaning up toys for example).
  • Refine old tricks. Work on duration, distance or distractions. Can your dog perform roll over while bacon is frying?
  • Indoor fetch. This works best if you have small or gentle dogs who won’t go running into furniture and knocking things over. I recommend using soft toys or balls for this purpose.
  • Help with the chores. They can turn on/off light switches, close doors, put laundry in the machine or throw trash away in the trash can. And if your dog is brave in the face of temptation, you can have them fetch you a beer after your house is sparkling clean.
  • Work on a behavioral issue. Practice loose leash walking in the house or staying out of the kitchen or staying calm while you leave (for dogs with separation anxiety).
  • Puzzle Games. There are now a score of different puzzle games on the market. Or you can make simple puzzles at home using a plastic bottle and putting food in it or using a muffin tin and tennis balls.
  • Compete for a title. These days, you can earn a virtual title in almost every dog sport (rally, obedience, parkour, agility, freestyle, disc etc).
  • Relax and Settle. Games are all good and fun but at the end of the day, your dog has to know how to settle. You can’t play with them 24/7! Dr. Karen Overall has a good protocol for teaching relaxation to dogs.
Which indoor games and activities do you enjoy with your dog?
*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. If you buy something after clicking the affiliate links on this site, your item will not cost more but the pennies will go towards Mr. N’s treat allowance and upkeep of this site. 




55 Responses

  1. Joely Smith

    November 11, 2016 11:36 pm

    I am relieved storm season has just about passed us. Our Lyla hates the storms but does not mind the snow much. I do want to work on nose games with her this winter and some puzzle games sound about her speed. 🙂 Great ideas! Thank you!

  2. Lindsay Pevny

    November 12, 2016 3:47 am

    I'm most excited about teaching nosework to my dogs, though I'm not sure if I want to get a kit or find some interesting scents for them to detect. I was thinking it'd be fun to practice in the winter, then try it outdoors when it gets warm again.

  3. Ruth Epstein

    November 12, 2016 6:20 am

    I am this year going to try out a puzzle game with Layla and see how it goes as she normally just goes to sleep and want to stimulate her more, thanks for reminder and list

  4. Hindy Pearson

    November 12, 2016 8:48 am

    Perfect timing! It's absolutely pouring outside this morning, and although Red doesn't mind, Jack won't come out of his crate – he knows!! I like to do a bit of training with him, and perhaps an interactive toy. He's still recovering from spinal surgery and although he can run around a bit, no jumping, climbing or getting too boisterous so we'll need to find low key boredom busters. Great tips BTW!

  5. Talent Hounds

    November 13, 2016 4:51 pm

    We love indoor games, puzzles and activities. I am going to try more "help with the chores". I have not had much luck with picking up toys or holds or drops yet. Kilo will close doors and a few other things.

  6. Cathy Armato

    November 13, 2016 5:23 pm

    Great ideas. I didn't know there were Nosework kits, I'm going to look for that! I wanted to try Nosework for awhile now. Thanks.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  7. Daily Dog Tag

    November 13, 2016 9:48 pm

    I also didn't know that you could buy nosework kits. I think it is something my dogs could do pretty well. I'll have to check into that. Winter is usually pretty harsh around here, so we stay inside a lot.

  8. MattieDog

    November 13, 2016 10:32 pm

    We love the 'work with chores!' Holy smokes – we often get our pups to help us by learning new tricks. We try to teach them their toy's names, and the come or 'put away' verbiage. So far they are able to clean up the living room pretty darned great – thank you for this!

  9. Christine Caplan

    November 14, 2016 1:55 am

    In addition to Nosework – we love indoor fetch, we used this today and played fetch with Walter by tossing the ball down the stairs and they 5th time he had to bring it up he was exhausted!

  10. Robin Mudge

    November 14, 2016 2:22 am

    Mr. N is so cute with his little Lambchop! My sister loved Lampchop's show when she was a kid. I remember watching it all the time. These are great ideas for keeping a dog busy indoors! I love the idea of taking the time to learn new tricks and spend time bonding. 🙂
    -Purrs from your friends at


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.