Indoor Dog Games

14November 2015

For much of the United States, we are moving into colder weather.  For those of us on Hawaii, it means more rain.  Either way it can be much more difficult to get your dog outside for their regular exercise.  But it is still important to keep your dog’s body and mind active in some way.  The following are some ideas for indoor games you can try with your dog.

Go Find game:
This is one of my favorite games to play inside with my dogs.  I make my dogs wait in one area of the house while I go out of sight and hide a toy.  (It is helpful if they see the toy and play with it a little bit before hand so they know what they are looking for.)  I then come back to the dogs, who have hopefully been practicing a good “Stay” and release them on their hunt by saying “Go Find.”  The search and when the find the toy, praise lavishly and reward by playing with the dog with the toy they just found.  Then repeat.  Make sure you hide the toy is a semi-easy spot when you first start, then make it harder as the dog improves in the game.

Put your toys away:

To begin this game, start by having your dog pick up a favorite toy near the area where they are normally stored.  We have a toy bin for our dog’s toys.  Encourage your dog to do a “Drop it” while they are standing over the toy bin or area.  Praise lavishly when the dog does this.  Getting this going can take awhile.  Remember to have patience with your dog and take the time to praise when they do it right.  Now you will have a dog that can clean up after themselves.  How fantastic would that be?

Learn the names of Toys:
According to recent studies, our dogs actually have the intelligence equivalent to that of a 2-year-old child, and are capable of learning more than 200 words.  Exercising your dog’s brain is a main component of keeping your dog happy and healthy throughout life.  Start with one toy and add a specific name to it.  Once you have picked the name of the toy, be sure to always use that same name (as you should also do with any cue/ command you practice).  Once your dog seems to have that first one done, start doing the same thing with a second.  Then try and ask your dog to bring you “name” toy.  Praise lavishly when they get it right!

The Cup Game:

This game is a great start in what we call “nose work.”  Smell is the most important scent for a dog.  I’m sure you have seen many dogs who are driven by their nose.  Some particular breeds tend to be more scent driven as well, such as hunting and working breeds.  To begin, get three (non-glass) cups and line them up in a row.  Place your dog in front of the cups.  First, put a treat under one of the cups while your dog is watching.  When the dog chooses the correct cup, praise lavishly and let him get the treat.  Start simple and once your dog seems to get the hang of it, start to make it harder by switching the cups around.  Don’t forget to praise the dog each time he gets it right.

Interactive Dog Toys:

There are many interactive dog toys on the market today.  There are toys to chew, puzzles to solve, and toys to chase.  If your dog likes to chase things, a great idea might be what is called a Flirt Pole.  You can purchase online or even make your own (which I recommend).  


If you have a highly intelligent dog (those dogs who get into the most trouble tend to be more intelligent and lacking mental stimulation), a puzzle game is a fantastic idea.  Again you can purchase online or make your own using a muffin tin, some treats, and a few tennis balls.  Place a few treats in the tin (not in every hole), then cover them all with tennis balls.  Now you have your own dog puzzle.  This game can also be done with treats or toys and cardboard boxes (if you have more room).