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Top 30 indoor games to play with your dog

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

With the virus pandemic sweeping the world and the various restrictions, many of us will find ourselves spending more time at home, to the delight and joy of our dogs.

But how can you keep your dog entertained and exercised while at home?

Here we’ve got the 30 best indoor games you can try with your dog.

Those games are also great for those rainy days when you just don’t want to spend too long outside.

Game 1: Dog fishing

How to play: Tie up one of the dog’s toys onto a strong rope or similar. Tease it by spinning and dragging the toy on the rope around the dog on the floor. You can attach the other end of the rope to a strong stick and use the stick to take the toy around you so dog chases it while you are staying put. You can walk or run around instead making the dog to chase the toy tied up to the rope. Let the dog catch the toy from time to time and play a little game of tug before making the dog to chase after the toy again.

Benefits: Physical exercise, development of agility, strengthening toy motivation, boredom breaker.

Game 2: Bounce and cath the ball

How to play: Find a wall you can bounce the ball off. Ideally, use a soft ball designed for indoors which will not break anything. First throw the ball at the wall, let it bounce off the floor, and compete with your dog who can catch it first. Then you can throw, bounce of t

he wall and catch, or bounce it off the floor first before it hits the wall and then catch. Alternate your throws and the ball landing spots to keep the dog guessing. Another noisy but fun game!

Benefits: Good exercise for your dog, development of coordination and precision, bonding and joint play.

Game 3: Ready, steady go!!!

How to play: Choose a starting line. Tease the dog with a toy or a treat and then throw it forward while keeping the dog in a sitting of standing position. Say, “Ready, steady, go!” Then race together with your dog to the toy or the treat. You may want initially to hold back your dog so it does not take off before you. Most dogs will soon get the game and will impatiently wait at the starting line with you until you give the command “go!!!”. Once you get to the toy you can do a little game and then return back to the starting line for another race. The game can get very noisy, but it is fun!

Benefits: Teaches your dog self-control, is fun and engaging, builds forward drive and enthusiasm for dogs who are lacking it at the moment.

Game 4: Muffin game

How to play: You’ll need; muffin tin, several tennis balls and some treats. Put treats into some of the cups of the tin and cover all of the cups with tennis balls. Let your dog sniff out the treats and lift up the balls to retrieve them. Try to prevent the dog from turning over the muffin tin and getting all of the treats at once as it will be cheating!

Benefits: Development of dog’s problem solving abilities, nosework and positive fun.

Game 5: Doggie in the middle

How to play: For this you’ll need two people, a ball or a soft toy, and a room without too many breakable things. One person teases the dog with the toy or the ball and then throws it to the second person. If playing with a ball then you can bounce it on the floor between each other. If playing with a soft toy you can spin it around you on the floor to tease the dog and then pass it over to the second person. Dog will aim to capture the ball or the toy. Noisy, energetic and fun game. Great game to involve kids too. Can also be played outside.

Benefits: excellent physical exercise, builds drive and engagement, great game to jazz up dogs who are losing motivation.

Game 6: Learn some new tricks

How to play: This is our favourite game. Dogs love learning new tricks and practicing those that they already know. They are getting all the stimulation, exercises and praise while having loads of fun. On the Dog Talent Association website there are more than 230(!!!!!) different tricks for you to choose from to teach your dog. Tricks are grouped together into Talent Tracks depending on your dog’s personality and your preference and by their difficulty. Most of those tricks can be done indoors. You and your dog will definitely are not going to be bored with such a massive choice of ideas!

Benefits: mental and physical stimulation, strengthening your bond, better communication, expanding your dog’s vocabulary, developing balance and dexterity, reducing behaviour problems and just lots of fun for both of you.

Game 7: Run, trick and reward!

How to play: You’ll need a couple of balls that your dog likes or other fetching type toys and some treats and a large room without too many breakable items. Throw one of the balls (or toys) and ask the dog to fetch it. When the dog brings it back to you ask the dog to do a trick. It could be a simple sit, or something different. Reward. Then throw the second toy. When the dog fetches it ask the dog to do another trick and reward. If your dog is lacking the fetching drive you can tease it with the toy first and then reward twice — first time on bringing you the ball or the toy and the second time after performing the trick.

Benefits: Introduces variety to the training by alternating the fetch it game with tricks, makes the dog focus on you rather than on the ball or the toy, improves the drive and motivation and is an excellent combination of physical and mental exercise.

Game 8: Treasure hunt

How to play: You’ll need a large box (perhaps one you no longer need and are going to recycle), dog’s toy box or another large container. Put into the box either scrunched-up wrapping or scrunched up papers that you were going to recycle. If you do not have the papers you can throw into the box a mixture of objects that are safe for the dog or dog toys. Add a handful of dry treats and mix everything well so the treats are well-hidden under the contents of the box. Invite the dog to take stuff out of the box to hunt for the treats. If your dog is not sure what you want, you can show the some treats first and initially put them into the box so the dog can see at least some of them.

Benefits: Useful game if you need a peaceful moment or to take a work phone call and the dog is bored and looking for a mischief. Excellent boredom breaker for the dog, mental stimulation and problem solving game as dog will be finding where the treats are and figuring out how to get to them.

Game 9: Change the scene

How to play: We tend to train dogs in the same place or in the same room. This is an opportunity to take your dog to a different part of the house and ask it to do some of the tricks it already knows in a different environment. If you would rather not introduce the dog to a different part of the house, then you can create a different environment in the familiar room. Perhaps try to switch on some music and do the tricks to music, or switch off the lights completely and see if the dog can still do the tricks in the dark etc? Bear in mind that it will be much harder for the dog, so reward any good tries.

Benefits: Excellent way to make the tricks more robust by teaching the dog to generalise, expands your dog’s comfort zone, introduces nice variety and fun to your training.

Game 10: I’ll catch you!

How to play: Tease the dog with a ball or a toy and throw it. Instead of asking the dog to bring it to you run after the dog and try to catch it as it skips away from you with the toy. For this game come up with the different word meaning that you’ll be trying to catch the dog rather than the dog needs to fetch and bring you the toy.

Benefits: Fun game helping to strengthen your bond, good exercise for both of you and another great game to wake up and motivate somewhat passive dogs.

Game 11: Sphinx

How to play: Put your dog in a sit or down position and tell it to stay there while you tease it with a toy or some food. On release, play enthusiastically and praise your dog for excellent self-control. Reward with something higher value than what you were teasing it with.

Initially you will have to reward even the slightest attempt on self-control. Gradually extend the duration and the amount of teasing you do.

Benefits: Another excellent game to develop self-control, builds focus and obedience in your dog, strengthens your release command.

Game 12: Find all the treats

How to play: Hide several treats around the room while the dog is not watching (perhaps leave the dog in another room while you are hiding the treats). Make sure you count how many treats you hid and try to remember where you put them. For beginner dogs try to hide treats in easy places at or below the dog’s nose level. For more experienced dogs hide the treats out of sight, cover them or stick them between objects or inside objects. Give your dog command “find it” and let it sniff around the room trying to find all of the hidden treats. As a fun variant you can switch off the lights and let your dog find the treats in the dark.

Benefits: Good game for mental stimulation, concentration and development of your dog’s scenting and tracking skills.

Game 13: Surface challenge

How to play: Initially introduce your dog to an unfamiliar surface. It could be a roll-out exercise mat, aluminium foil, blanket, wooden or plastic board etc. Once your dog is comfortable and totally relaxed, ask your dog to do a familiar trick first around the new surface or object and then on the top of it. You can improvise and use familiar objects in unfamiliar places, for example put the dog blanket in a new place and ask the dog to do some tricks on the blanket. Or try doing the tricks on a raised surface or objects (chair, sofa, sturdy box, cushion on the floor etc). Reward and give plenty of praise for any effort as it will be much harder.

Benefits: good game to strengthen the trick your dog already knows by proofing it, dog’s mental development, building the trust, expanding your dog’s comfort zone and building up confidence of dealing with unfamiliar objects or environments.

Game 14: Find the toy

How to play: Show the dog the toy you are going to hide, take the dog out of the room, hide the toy. Invite the dog in and encourage it to find the toy. Praise and generously reward with treats or play. Initially you may want to “hide” the toy while the dog is watching you and encourage the dog to “find the toy”. Gradually make it more difficult and transition from “hiding” in dog’s sight to hiding somewhere where dog can’t see. To introduce hiding off sight you can cover the toy with something while dog is watching and then ask it to find you the toy. You can build up to the whole house search for a toy that dog knows by name, or expanding to non-toys — such as keys, TV remote etc.

Benefits: Fantastic game for mental stimulation for your dog. It is very tiring but fun and you can build on it to teach your dog some rather impressive tricks. Any scent work games are good for dogs that are not keen to join other games or are a bit reserved They are also helpful for dogs with behavioural problems and help to connect with them and build rapport.

Game 15: Dress up game

How to play: Gather some hats, glasses, scarves, socks, tops etc and play a dress-up with your dog. Make sure your dog is relaxed and comfortable with the objects before you put them on Encourage the dog to keep them on for a few seconds, then gradually make it longer. Take lots of funny and cute pictures.

Benefits: Dress up game with your dog, if not overdone, is a good way to build up your dog’s trust. It is also good to prepare your dog to work with costume and props if you would like to do Talent Show Dog titles.

Game 16: Which hand has the treat?

How to play: Pick up a treat and hide it in one of your hands. Show both hands to your dog and encourage it to find the treat and tell you where it is. Start with letting the dog see which hand has the treat and build it from there. Think how you would lie your dog to indicate where the treat is — by intensely looking at the hand with the treat, by nosing, by paw by bark etc and work on that indication with your dog.

Benefits: Easy and good game to build your dog’s indication, strengthens your communication is a mental workout and introducing variety to your training.

Game 17: 2 and 4 feet on

How to play: Find several objects in your house where you can practice 2 feet on vs 4 feet on with your dog. If your dog currently does not know 2 feet on and 4 feet on start with teaching your dog that. Then build to differentiation of 2 feet on vs 4 feet on command. Depending on the size of your dog and its age you can use chairs, cushions, sturdy boxes, your lap etc. Experiment with high objects (like chair or sofa) and low objects like a book or a mat. For advanced dogs try 4 feet on with objects smaller than half the dog in length. Always be ready to support the dog and make sure that the objects are robust and not too high for the dog.

Benefits: development of obedience and agility skills, mental development, physical exercise.

Game 18: Watch a nature programme

How to play: Ok, this is not strictly speaking a game, but lots of dogs love watching nature or dog-related programmes. So if you would like a quiet moment you can snuggle up and watch it together. For educational element you can point animals you see to your dog and tell their names. Draw dog’s interest and attention to what is happening on the screen.

Benefits: bonding, language development, relaxation

Game 19: Magical bottle

How to play: You’ll need an empty plastic bottle and some treats. Make holes slightly larger than the treats in the plastic bottle, put a few treats in and give it to the dog. Let the dog figure out how to get the treats out by rolling the bottle on the floor. You might need experiment a bit before you get the right balance of the number of treats in the bottle to start with and with the size of the holes to make the treats drop out regularly enough to keep the dog rewarded for the efforts.

Benefits: bonding, problems solving, mental stimulation, fun.

Game 20: Indoor obstacle course

How to play: Create your own indoor obstacle course. You can use some chairs, soft obstacles, boxes, buckets, food tins, cereal boxes, pillows. Depending on your dog’s skills, age, and your own level of fitness, you can navigate the course together or guide the dog to navigate the course on its own. You can go with or send the dog around the obstacles, on the top of them, inside them, under, over etc. Change what you ask the dog to do next time you go around the course to keep it interested and focused. With young or beginner dogs praise and reward after each of the obstacles and for any good tries. Make the dog feel positive about how it is doing. For dogs who are less driven try to strategically position treats or toys around the course for additional motivation.

Benefits: development of obedience, focus, drive, fitness, flexibility and agility.

Game 21: Listen to music

How to play: Dogs can enjoy and respond to the music too. You can listen to your favourite music with the dog. Experiment with different music styles — see what type of music your dog prefers. Is it the same as yours? Does it change with the time?

Benefits: Bonding, relaxation, building understanding and confidence.

Game 22: Balance

How to play: Make yourself a make-shift balance board for your dog for this game or use a balance board if you have one at home. A cushion with a hard board on the top or a book can become the balance board. For more experienced dogs experiment with something harder such as board on a top of a rolling pin, a baking tray on a top of a cup etc. Support the item if it is likely to roll away or fall down. Practice and experiment. Reward and give loads of praise and keep the dog supported sand secure as it learns to balance.

Benefits: Development of balance, coordination, body awareness and trust.

Game 23: Figure it out

How to play: Make several food or toy puzzles for your dog using recycled and household objects and encourage your dog to figure out how to extract the food.

Some potential ideas for you:

Empty boxes, throw in some treats and close the box lid

Saucepans and cover them with the lid or a piece of cardboard (fully or partially)

Toothpaste boxes, put some treats in and close them

Kitchen paper or toilet paper cores, stuff them with treats and some scrunched up papers from both sides

Instead of treats hide toys

You can put treats or toys under objects of furniture and encourage the dog to try to get them out

Benefits: mental challenge, problem solving, physical exercise.

Game 24: Over and under

How to play: You can be sitting comfortably on the chair or the sofa and it is time for your dog to do some work. Stretch your legs and encourage your dog to jump over. Praise liberally. If you have a helper you can ask them to help you with that initial phase. Once your dog is happy to jump over you can introduce “under”. While doing under the dog will crawl under your legs. For larger dogs you might want to raise your legs a bit by putting them on a small stool. Once your dog can do the under command reliably, then you can alternate “under” and “over”without any particular regularity to ensure your dog is listening. Instead of your legs you can use a broom handle, long umbrella, cane etc.

Benefits: Good physical exercise for your dog and teaching to maintain concentration and focus. Many dogs love this game particularly if you intersperse the training with play and use a mixture of toys or/and treats.

Game 25: Dog disco

How to play: It’s time to dance and to have slightly barking mad fun. Put on your favourite dancing music, you can also dim the lights and set up disco style lights (but only if your dog is comfortable with them). Start dancing and encourage your dog to join in. Initially you might use one of the dog’s toys to draw the dog in and to focus its attention. Afterwards the dog is likely to join in enthusiastically, but you still might want to have a toy or a pulling rope in your hand to re-direct your dog’s attention and enthusiasm. Experiment with different types of music, but please do not play it too loudly as your dog’s hearing is better than yours so it will be even louder for your dog.

Benefits: It is a bit of lighthearted fun but it is also a good fun exercise for both of you.

Game 26: You can’t get me

How to play: Hide under a duvet or a blanket, call your dog and encourage it to get to you. Manage your dog’s enthusiasm either by raising it up by calling and making hight pitch noises, or by sitting quietly and reassuring your dog that it is not a scary ghost but you etc. Praise your dog once it manages to figure out how to lift up to edge of the duvet and get to you.

Benefits: Bonding, positive fun interaction, problem solving challenge and boredom breaker. If done well it will also give a confidence boost to anxious dogs.

Game 27: Get a feet lick

How to play: Ok, this is not game for everyone. Some people like their feet to be liked by the dog and others do not like even the sound of it at all. If your dog is not an enthusiastic feet-licker already you can try to encourage it by putting a bit of peanut butter on your clean feet or put some treats between your toes. Experiment and you might discover a fun little game for both of you.

Benefits: bonding, boredom breaker, fun.

Game 28: Shuffling pots

How to play: Put a treat under one of the pots, shuffle them around on the floor in front of the dog and encourage the dog to try to find under which pot the treat is hiding. You can start by putting the treat under the pot while the dog is watching and then encourage the dog to tell you excitedly where the treat is, reward. Then do it with 2 pots and then you can increase the number of the pots and shuffle them around. You can play the game with several small boxes instead, mugs, cups etc.

Benefits: Mental workout for the dog, development of your dog’s nose work skills and indication.

Game 29: Duplo treasure hunt

How to play: It is a lovely fun variant of the Shuffling pots game for more advanced and experienced dogs. You’ll need a large lego building on board or even better Duplo building on board, several bricks and some small dry treats that will fit under the blocks comfortably. Attach several blocks to the base board and hide treats under one or more of them. Encourage your dog to sniff and indicate under which of the blocks the treat is hiding.

Instead of using the building board you can just put the blocks straight onto the floor with the treats hiding underneath one or several of the blocks.

Wash the board and blocks after the game as the smell might linger.

Benefits: Very good mental workout for the dog and further development of nose work skills and indication.

Game 30: Tasting game

How to play: Get a small bits of different veggies and other food which is safe for dogs or a selection of different dog treats. Introduce different foods to the dog in pairs to see which one the dog prefers. The winner of each food pair then competes against other winners until your dog will choose the most favourite of them all.

Benefits: Fun way to introduce different foods to your dog and for you to find out which of the foods or treats your dog likes most.

As little present from us here is a bonus game:

Bonus game: Attention switch

How to play: Tease your dog with a toy and enthusiastically play with it. Take the toy away from the dog and ask the dog to perform a trick. Once done praise and give back the toy for another round of fun game. Repeat several times. Every time ask the dog to perform a different trick. Finish with a good game.

Benefits: Developing dog’s drive and motivation, making the training varied and more fun, bonding, positive dog training and obedience practice.

Many of the games here are our own invention, so of course feel free share the post but please don't copy and reproduce the games without attribution to the

Enjoy the games and stay healthy!

#tricktraining #dogtraining #trainingideas #topideas #doggames #indoorgames #gameswithdogs #dogtalentassociation #trickdogs #indoorgameswithdogs


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