Sometimes it’s next to impossible for dogs to go outside. From rainy days to stay-at-home orders, dogs still need things to do while stuck inside. Fortunately, we feel your pain and came up with a list of 101 things to do indoors with your dog.
We’ve divided the 101 things into 10 easy categories so you can choose the ones that apply to your dog, his age, needs, and energy level:
- Dog Brain Games
- Dog Indoor Exercises
- 10 Touches To Do With Dogs Indoors
- Tricks For Dog Treats
- Puppy Indoor Activities
- Good Old Fashioned Canine Fun Activities
- Canine Arts & Crafts
- Canine Health & Hygiene
- Group Games For Dogs
- Other Things To Do Indoors With Your Dog
Indoor fun doesn’t mean less fun than outdoor activities with dogs. Dogs are adept at tracking a scent, sniffing out treats, and being with their favorite person or people. No matter what age, no matter what breed or mutt, here are 101 things you can do with your dog while indoors. Let’s get started!
TL;DR version is available by clicking the Table of Contents and then clicking on any activity of your choice for more information.
This post may contain affiliate links for which I earn a small income if you click through and purchase something on the links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.
Before Starting Indoor Activities With Dogs
No matter what games you play or training sessions you do with your dog, make yourself a promise that you won’t lose your temper, get mad or frustrated with your dog, and take it slow and steady.
Use caution when you have multiple dogs and know how to “read” your dog’s body language and behavior to avoid any scuffles or disagreements among pack members.
At their core, dogs want to please us. If a dog is unable to perform a trick or a certain behavior, move on to something else. Like people, dogs don’t enjoy nor want to partake in every game or activity we present to them. I like roller skating but someone else might like tennis. Dogs are the same way. Learn to know your dog’s likes and dislikes by his behavior.
Here are a few key things to know as you embark on indoor canine activities:
- Be positive and upbeat. I act like my dog just won a dog show when he accomplishes a task.
- Have a plan and a vision of what your behavior will be. If you want to teach your dog a new trick, you the owner/handler/parent must understand the steps prior to sitting down with your dog.
- Never force a dog to do something they have zero interest in doing.
- Start slow and work in short sessions. For most healthy dogs, 10 to 15 minutes of practice that end with positivity is typical. You always want to end on a happy note. Say things like “Good boy” or “Good girl” to your dog at the end of the session.
- Never hit, spank, or yell at a dog for not doing something. Patience is key. Punishment is a no-no and never a part of anything we do or recommend.
Dog Brain Games
Indoor canine challenges include games and puzzles that test a dog’s smarts and help them exercise their mental acuity and thought processes. People use various senses to engage with the world, and dogs rely on their keen sense of smell to information gather.
These brain games involve treats, so you want the treats you dispense to be high value. We also advise you to monitor how many treats you put into dog brain games. While exercise and stimulation are important, so is watching your dog’s waistline and weight in general.
Nina Ottosson Wobble Bowl
Start simple with this level 1 Nina Ottosson canine dog “board” game. Pop some treats into the Wobble Bowl and then seal the hole with the included tab. Dogs must rock and wobble the game in order to dispense treats from the several strategically placed openings.
Use praise and encouragement as your dog learns the game, especially if this is his first experience with a board game. You might want to show him a bit and not expect him to figure it out. To make it more difficult, cover one of the openings making it a bit more difficult for the dog to dispense the treats.
Buy your very own Nina Ottosson Wobble Bowl here.
Nina Ottosson Dog Challenge Slider
As a long-time fan of Nina’s dog brain games, this is one of the newest gems in her collection. Using 24 hidden treat compartments, this level 3 (out of 4) puzzle gets dogs thinking.
Dogs must move each slider piece one at a time in order to access treats placed under each slot. The slider pieces move in different directions, so participants must slide, treat, and repeat. You can put 24 treats in the game by easily sliding the drawer out that is located under the slides. Alternatively, you can make it trickier by only placing half the treats inside. This game is challenging so I encourage you to show your dog how it works first. This is a game for more advanced dog players or those who have used canine board games before.
Get your dog a Dog Challenge Slider game here.
Nina Ottosson MultiPuzzle
This one is the mega challenge of all challenges for dogs, as it is a level 4 out of 4. For clever, energetic dogs or those who have mastered the prior levels, Nina Ottosson “ups the bark” with this game.
Featuring 28 hidden treat compartments with a second middle game, dogs move sliders, rotating actions, and must use higher thinking to uncover their goodies. You should absolutely play this one with your dog.
Purchase a MultiPuzzle here.
Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Game
We’ve been playing with this game indoors for years and it is a go-to fun favorite. This one is a level 3 and involves nine compartments and nine locking switches to encourage dogs to think while they sniff treats out.
The games are free of BPAs, PVC, and phthalate and has lockable handles to increase or decrease difficulty levels.
Purchase a Dog Twister game on Amazon here.
Nina Ottosson Casino Dog Game
The Dog Casino is a fun and challenging way to get a dog engaging in play and even help them slow down if they tend to eat their meal fast. Our dog loves removing the bones and opening the sliding compartments to reveal all the treats that are hidden inside. For this game, the difficulty rating is considered hard. You can see how our dog mastered it. Remember, when you train your dog, this is all about positive reinforcement.
This one is a skill level 3. The updated version of Casino features six compartments and six bones that you can lock for a more challenging puzzle.
Purchase a Dog Casino game on Amazon here.
Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball
We’ve been using this ball for years and have gifted it many times. My dog likes the larger 5” inch size, and that best part of all: This ball is a soft, pliable textured surface for easy gripping. It won’t damage hardwood floors by knocking into things.
Simply insert treats into the ball and your dog must roll the ball around with his nose or paws so they fall out during playtime.
Buy the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball here (available in smaller sizes, too)
Canine Snuffle Mat
This is a fun way to engage your dog on several levels: handkerchief, puzzle board, wallet, book, and ball pocket in addition to the snuffle mat itself. A snuffle mat mimics the way a dog would forage for food outside, perhaps in the grass.
The one we like is designed for any breed, any size, any mouth shape, but we do recommend your dog not be allowed to chew the snuffle mat. It is 100 percent machine washable.
Purchase your SNIFFZiz SmellyMatty Dog Snuffle Mat here.
Fillable Kong Toys For Dogs
We can’t talk about dog indoor games and not include the line of interactive dog toys from KONG. The classic natural rubber KONG is fun to chew, chase, and fetch. Some folks fill it with peanut butter and freeze it while others prefer dog treats.
KONG toys are available in many colors, variations, shapes, and skill levels, but our two favorites are the KONG Wobbler treat-dispensing toy and the KONG Genius toys. You can combine KONG toys in the Genius line for even more fun and challenges.
Explore the line of KONG dog toys here.
Rough Chewers Interactive Dog Toys
Not all dogs are gentle on toys, so if you’ve got a rough chewer, the West Paw Zogoflex Tux interactive dog treat-dispensing toy is great for inside fun. Stuff or freeze dog treats inside and feel safe about this BPA-free and phthalate-free toy.
You can pop this one in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. This particular toy floats, bounces, and even hangs tough for more dedicated chewers. Some things you can stuff inside the Zogoflex Tux include cheese chunks, dog biscuits, carrot sticks, and frozen broth. Always supervise your dog because you do not want to have the pieces too big to get caught in the toy for hours and hours nor do you want the dog choking on pieces that are too small.
Buy a West Paw Zogoflex Tux dog toy.
Boredom Buster LickiMat Wobble Slow Feeder
Some dogs are into licking their favorite spreadable snack from the interior of a toy, but pet parents could do without the mess. Hyper Pet’s Boredom Buster LickiMat Slow Feeder fills that gap for indoor fun without a major mess.
The company says the pattern of the dog toy helps promote fresh breath, healthy teeth, and gums by scraping harmful bacteria from the tongue and stimulating saliva reproduction, which aids digestion. Be careful if you have a heavy chewer, as this is not designed for those with rough chewing behaviors. Coat the inside with something like yogurt or peanut butter, freeze it for a bit, and watch your dog have fun indoors.
Get your Hyper Pet LickiMat Wobble Bowl here.
Dog Indoor Exercises
Before starting any indoor exercise program with your dog, be sure your pup has seen the veterinarian recently and doesn’t have any limitations. Start any new program, exercise regimen, or movement program slowly. Exercise and engagement of a dog should be modified according to a dog’s age, weight, size, and any health conditions.
For example, I wouldn’t exercise an arthritic senior dog’s rear legs the same way I would a younger pup. Move the legs, yes. Overdo it and use the same regimen for both dogs, no. Modify the methods but keep the dog moving in some way, shape, or do-able form. A bored dog will get used to a boring lifestyle.
Tip: Always associate a word with the desired behavior for dogs with hearing. If your dog is deaf, use hand signals to associate the desired behavior.
Shake Paw to Hand
Shake hands is one of the oldest canine tricks in the “book,” but it also provides a good stretch for a dog’s shoulder muscles. Do both front paws for 5 to 10 reps so your pooch gets a balanced indoor workout. This is a fun one to do inside a hotel room when traveling, too.
Work the back end, shoulders, and core muscles with commando crawl. Your dog should know how “down” to start off a crawl. Once the dog is in the “down” position, reward. Kneel in front of your dog and show him a special treat. Reward as he stays in down. Now drag the treat on the ground in front of your dog’s nose. Give him a treat if he complies while moving forward to reach the snack. If your dog gets up between the “down,” simply redirect to down. Praise and enthusiasm are keys to any successful training.
Using a toy or a towel, tug-of-war is a fun indoor exercise for dogs to strengthen the rear end, abdomen, and shoulders. Never lift the dog’s head backward when playing this game. Tug-of-war helps build confidence while expending a dog’s pent-up energy indoors. Mix in short breaks during any tug-of-war session to rest the dog’s jaw and so that things do not get out of hand. Some dogs may become overly aggressive if they engage in this game, so know your dog’s non-verbal cues and end the game if things get too rough.
Sit Up To Beg
“Beg” is a fun way to strengthen a dog’s core muscles while improving balance and stability. Core muscles are at work when a dog walks and runs, so it is important to strengthen them regularly. Have your dog in a sit pose and remind her to stay. Place a treat into one hand and allow the dog to see it. Begin by placing your arms in front of the dog so she can smell the treat. You want the dog to know the treat is there. Reward when your dog realizes the treat is in your hand. Yes, give the treat up. For the first day or two, just do this.
On day 2 or 3, start holding the treat in front of your dog’s nose, but the treat must be seen in between two fingers so you can hold it in front of the dog’s nose. You want the dog to be on her haunches as a goal. She will be on her haunches and wrap her paws around your arm while you say beg. In order to do this, work on it a few days at a time. By leaning forward a bit and pushing the treat toward Dexter’s nose, he started to associate the word ‘beg,’ the desired behavior.
Spin The Doggy
Spinning is a trick we worked up to when my dog, Dexter was a puppy. Tell your dog to sit (and by the way, I am always happy when I talk to my dog). I associate sit with a hand signal for sit. While holding a treat in your hand, hold it above the dog’s nose, move the treat in a large circle over his head. The goal is for the dog to follow your hand. The dog is allowed to break a ‘sit.’ Don’t associate “spin” with stay. Your dog won’t get this instantly and training sessions should be short, sweet, and end on a positive note.
This will help work the different muscle groups and is a repetition of sit, down, stay, and then tell the dog to get up. You want to reward for each set. I use Dr. Harvey’s Coconut Smiles since they are easy to break, organic, and a natural source of dietary fiber for dogs.
Run Up and Down Steps
If you have a set of steps and your dog does not have mobility or joint issues, steps are great indoor fun. Be sure the dog’s nails are not too long and that she won’t slip on the steps. Are they carpeted? Does the carpeting “move” or is it in place? Do 5 to 10 reps and never force a dog to do this if they have zero interest. Different strokes for different folks, and that includes dogs.
Canine Platform Training
A few years ago, I won a KLIMB brand dog training platform. The elevated surface holds hundreds of pounds and is lined with “PawGrip” so dogs don’t slip on it. I learned the KLIMB maximizes a dog’s tendency to seek higher vantage points without getting too high up.
The platform is easy to set up and whenever I get it out, Dexter now jumps right up onto it. It’s only 12 inches off the floor so he knows the platform is a happy place. In addition, to doing several up and down reps, I taught my dog the “go to your spot” command. He will jump up and wait for his treat as a reward for the behavior. It has a higher price point but we use it year-round and highly recommend it for anyone who is serious about dog exercise, agility, and/or dog behavior. It cleans easily, too.
Learn about the KLIMB dog training platform here.
Tour The House
Does your dog like to follow you around your house or apartment? Turn it into a fun workout. I will do this once or twice a day on rainy or colder days to help my dog get his steps in for the day. I alternate the pace from normal to medium to a slow run around the house and through the rooms. I enter different rooms and make sure there are no balls, toys, or other obstacles in our way. It’s an easy way to get some cardio in for both you and your dog while inside.
Tap the Hand Game
This one is a great cool-down exercise. Hide a treat in one of your hands and close it up into a fist. Ask your dog to “sit” and then place both fisted hands in front of your dog at snout level. I sit in front of my dog to play this game.
Ask your dog “which hand” and watch as he or she taps your hand with one of her paws. This game is similar to shake hands but involves mental focus, thinking, and physical motion, too.
10 Touches To Do With Dogs Indoors
Some of the things you can do with your dog while indoors involves your dog just being his happy-go-lucky self while you perform a home health check. The cool part of this is your dog thinks its a game or perhaps a rub down but you know it’s an overall health assessment at home.
The saying that a dog’s nose should always be wet and cold is just an old wives’ tale. In the course of a normal day, a dog’s nose will vary quite a bit, from warm and dry, wet and cold, and other possible combination. Seasonal temperature and humidity changes may affect your dog’s nose as they do yours; you just want to check your dog’s nose for discharge that’s more than transient, again noting any changes from the usual.
However, if your dog’s nose is always dry and cracked, scabbed, crusty, or raw, he should be seen by your veterinarian. There are numerous dermatological conditions that can cause the nose to appear this way, and most of them will worsen without treatment. A thick or greenish discharge could indicate your dog has a respiratory infection or a foreign body in his nose or sinus.
The lymph nodes filter foreign invaders/particles from a dog’s bloodstream. The lymphatic system includes organs like the thymus gland and spleen, so the regulation and production of cells of the immune system are involved. Touching the lymph nodes of the body and knowing where they are located is an important part of understanding your dog’s anatomy. Gently palpate the neck, legs, armpits, and groin regions. Feel into your dog’s armpits. Any bumps found should be reported to your veterinarian for an examination.
Dog Mouth & Jowls
One of the many reasons we are strong proponents and advocates of regular dog teeth brushing is to screen for lumps, bumps, growth, or sores. Dog parents who know what normal feels and looks like will be the first to know when something abnormal is touched or seen. If your dog isn’t into teeth brushing or having your finger gently probe around his gums, here are some ways to help a dog adjust to teeth brushing (and gentle probing).
Jowls vary in size, depth, and thickness, but all dogs have them: Those cheeks must be checked. Give them a good inspection and if there is any blood, debris, or odor have that checked. It could be lip fold dermatitis, time for teeth cleaning, or even a lump that needs further inspection.
Neck and Chest
Let’s touch those necks and chests today! Not a fun topic, but a necessary one. You want to look at the areas AND feel for anything.
When a tiny raised lump appeared on my first Cocker Spaniel’s shoulder blade about two weeks after getting her then yearly vaccinations, I felt a twinge of “something isn’t right” course through my veins. But I waited – after all a raised, small but swollen area at the site of vaccination is common, according to the veterinary literature I read. (at the time that didn’t mean Internet, it meant the UC Davis Book of Dogs). My dog’s veterinarian at the time tried to “squeeze” the lump and said it was probably nothing more than a pimple. Whew.
“Come home quick, Brandy’s lump is bleeding,” my wife told me.
“Your dog has cancer and we need to send the pathology out for confirmation of the stage,” said the man in the white lab coat.
The C Word. You could have knocked me over with a pin. We had laser surgery, follow up tests, and she lived a long life thanks to due diligence.
If you find a lump, don’t wait, aspirate at the vet.
Touch those chests and necks!
Assess your dog’s overall body condition. Have your dog stand up and run your hands gently down the sides of the chest. A good time to do this is after exercise when they aren’t squirmy or annoyed at you for doing this
You should be able to feel individual ribs without pressing too hard unless your dog has a thick fat pad. Now, look at your dog from above. Girls and boys should have a nice, visible, curvaceous waistline. (Note: Some breeds, like Bulldogs, won’t have a small waist no matter how skinny they are!) Look at your dog from the side. The tummy should tuck or curve upwards. Overweight dogs or elderly dogs with decreased muscle tone may have sagging bellies.
While you are looking at your dog’s tummy, feel free to give him a tummy rub, and feel for any signs of swelling or visual abnormalities.
Dog Legs and Paws
Gently feel in these areas. If the hair is too long, it will need to be groomed so as not to pick up debris. Feel and examine for lumps, bumps, interdigital cysts. Use a dog-safe cream on rough pads. Be sure nails are not too long and if they are, allow a qualified professional to clip them unless you are capable and qualified to do so.
Run your fingers through your dog’s coat. Feel for any lumps or bumps. Our rule of thumb: Don’t wait, aspirate. If you find any bumps or things of issue, talk to your dog’s vet.
Here’s what to do if you find lumps on your dog.
Respiratory Rate Check
This is important to monitor regularly. If there are any changes, you can alert your vet before things progress.
How to check your dog’s resting respiratory rate: The average dog at rest takes 24 breaths per minute. To check your dog’s respiration rate, count his chest movements for 15 seconds, and multiply by four to get the total number of breaths per minute. Practice at home, when you and your dog are both relaxed, so you’ll recognize quickly when something is wrong.
Note: Increased panting is a common occurrence for dogs in the winter months, particularly when the heat is on indoors and dogs are adjusting. However, if dogs are excessively panting, it’s time to get checked. Feel your dog’s chest and notice if there is any discomfort or pain while petting the chest area. Just behind the elbow on the left side of the dog’s chest is where you should be able to feel a heartbeat.
Some dogs, like the Cocker Spaniel, are known for their gorgeous flowy ears that make prone to ear issues like infections. So give the ears a total touch, feel them, look at them, sniff them – seriously if they smell anything other than like an ear then there could be an inner ear yeast or bacterial infection or both.
Here’s how to keep dog ears from infection.
Take a good look at your dog’s face, head, and cheeks. Ticks like to hitch a ride on our dog’s faces, heads, ears, chest, etc. Run your fingertips on your dog’s face, neck, head, ears, etc and note any unusual lumps or bumps. Since a Cocker’s nose, like any dog, is sniffing the ground, this gives nasty ticks the opportunity to hitch a ride.
Tail and Tush
Examine your Cocker’s tail, back end, private areas, feel inside the groin gently for any lumps, bumps, lesions, or anything outside the norm. Is there a strong odor? Is it anal sac expression time at the vet? Praise your dog the entire time, never yell, and if your dog is not happy about it, do the touches in short bursts as if they are a reward. Be happy, you could be saving a life by catching things early.
Remember, a vet can NEVER tell what a lump is unless a biopsy of some sort is performed. The naked eye cannot replace lab equipment. (I know, we have had more lumps with Cockers aspirated over the years than I can count).
If you smell anything unusual, it could be your dog’s anal sacs. Here’s what do to about a dog’s anal sacs and why it’s often best to leave them alone.
Bonus Tip: Eyes
Is there any unusual discharge or buildup in or around the eyes? Do the eyes look red or cloudy? Is there any increase or decrease in tear production? Does the dog squint or paw at the eyes?
Read more about Cocker Spaniel eye problems and solutions.
Tricks For Dog Treats
Teaching your dog basic obedience is fun and we’ll talk more about that soon, but teaching your dog tricks for treats can be a ton of fun.
My Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, has three titles to his name and all three were achieved so I could keep him happy, engaged, and mentally stimulated. Dexter has his Canine Good Citizen title, AKC novice trick dog title, and AKC intermediate trick dog title.
Whether you choose to work towards a title or just do it for fun, here are some tricks to try with your dog. Not all tricks are designed for all dogs, as some are more advanced. Never force your dog to perform and always end on a happy note after short sessions.
Is your dog ever underfoot or in your way and you accidentally run into him or her or even trip? Teaching your dog to politely move out of the way is a fun and bonding experience. You will also impress people when they see your dog politely step aside when you say aloud, “excuse me.”
If your dog is older or has no concept of what getting out of the way is…or maybe you say something else like “move it” or “beep beep,” then you need to take even more time with this. Shorter bursts, a minute here, a minute there. You simply want to reward your dog for moving when you say “excuse me.” Teaching your dog to move is the goal here.
Whenever you are walking and your dog is literally in your way, you must stop walking and say aloud your dog’s name accompanied by “excuse me.” So it comes out: “Fluffy, excuse me.” Sort of keep moving forward without crashing into your dog. The moment your dog is out of your way, you reward and celebrate like he just won Best in Show. You may want to carry a few of your dog’s favorite treats when starting out.
You want the dog to know he or she just did something that merits a high- value reward. Don’t randomly carry the treats if you aren’t planning to work on “excuse me.” For many dogs, their noses will seek out what’s lurking in your pocket and everything else is white noise.
Teaching “excuse me” is simple but you need to be consistent without being annoying and trying too hard. If your dog isn’t getting it or just simply is not interested, you do not want to end on a sour note. Have the dog do something that he or she is good at, no matter what it is, and then reward, clap, celebrate.
Teach Your Dog Roll Over
This is an advanced trick, but the roll-over is adorable and a favorite of may dog moms and dads.
Rather than tell you how to teach your dog to roll over, here’s me and my dog in action:
Go To Your Spot
Having your dog “go to their spot” is a great way to teach your dog basic obedience. We use the KLIMB platform as for our “go to your spot” place, but you can choose any location as long as it is clear. No matter where I place our platform, Dexter knows that is his “spot.” I highly recommend you use a physical platform, spot, or other apparatus the dog can clearly denote as the place you want him to go.
You’ll see a demonstration in the video montage below.
Spin In A Circle
We had a lot of fun with the “spin” trick, but it takes practice and always in short, positive bursts.
Once you have your dog’s attention by holding a treat in one of your hands, hold it above his nose and move it gently and slowly in a circle over his head. The dog should follow your hand. Now move your hand in a full circle motion.
If your dog followed your hand, be sure to verbally reward him and give the treat. This is the motion you will repeat along with a verbal cue such as “spin.” Dexter learned to do this in conjunction with a hand signal and a verbal cue, as demonstrated in the video below.
One of the first things I did to build confidence in my puppy was to introduce him to an indoor tunnel. The goal is to get your dog to charge through the tunnel to whatever awaits at the other end.
While I sat at one end, my spouse sat at the other end of the tunnel and called our pup’s name aloud. She held a yummy dog treat in her hand so the pup knew three things were beckoning to him: his human, his name, and a treat. Once your dog goes through, praise him. You can also toss treats inside the tunnel to get your pooch started.
Learn Names Of Objects
Hold an object you want your dog to learn, such as ‘ball.’ Each time you throw the ball, say the word ball. Work up to “go get your ball.”
As you call the object by its name, your dog will begin to associate the item with the word. Once he has mastered one item, be sure that item is something he will see regularly. For example, if you ask your dog to “get his leash” and then you hang his leash on a high hook or rack, the chances of him remembering are slim.
Weave Poles Indoors
In formal agility competitions, participants weave through poles. For practice, folks often use cones or plastic cups. We decided to try paper towels stacked atop one another for our indoor weave pole sessions, and it worked!
Your dog follows your hand with a treat in it and you simply say “weave” throughout. Always use a happy, upbeat tone. This is a more advanced trick.
Play The Cup Game
We talked about Nina Ottosson board games, which are lots of fun, but you can also try the cup or “shell” game at home. Using three containers, such as plastic cups (that are not transparent), place a high-value treat under one of the cups. Allow your dog to watch you do this. Shuffle the cups around and ask your dog to “find it.”
If your dog has difficulty locating the treat, tip the cup a bit so he can nose into it, then praise and allow him to take the reward.
Fun With A Hoop
Remember hula hoops? These big circular hoops range anywhere from 18 inches to 24 inches and are great for indoor canine fun.
Teaching your dog to “jump” through a hoop starts with teaching him to first walk through it. Simply keep the loop at floor level and don’t move it. Just hold it in your hand and let him walk through it. You can use a treat to encourage him to walk through while verbally stating “hoop” or “jump.”
Stay with the walk-through until your dog feels comfortable and then slowly elevate the hoop a bit. Be gradual, go slowly, and consider the age and condition of your dog’s joints.
Down is a great command to teach for basic obedience and also as part of a series of tricks you can piece together. As you’ll see in the video below, I do sit, down, and spin, and Dexter is able to successfully follow the order.
First, be sure your dog knows how to sit on command. Much like the spin command, lure your dog downward by placing a treat close to his nose but not on top of it. As he follows the treat to the follow, he is likely to pop back up at first. When he is all the way down to the floor, reward. This may take several short practice sessions. I use the word “down” and associate it with a hand signal.
Bonus Tricks for Treats Group Fun
My friend and colleague, Debi Lampert Rudman, runs a fun Facebook group called Triple T: Tricks for AKC Titles. As an AKC CGC/Trick Dog evaluator, Debi is offering all-breed trick dog testing via video for $10 per video submitted. Monies go to support dog charities. Learn more by visiting her trick dog Facebook group here.
Note: If your dog isn’t having fun with the above or seems genuinely disinterested, don’t do it. I promised myself I would never do something my dog genuinely didn’t seem interested in doing.
Puppy Indoor Activities
Most of the things puppies need to learn in the first four months of life can be taught in the home. Each experience builds on the one before, and the key is being kind, consistent, and patient with a puppy.
If you have a new puppy or plan to get one, here are some things to be sure your new bundle of joy learns.
By the time your puppy turns four months of age, my colleague and puppy trainer, Colby Morita of Puppy in Training provides this checklist:
- House trained
- Crate trained
- Good house manners
- Socialized to places, people, and dogs (other pups)
- Basic obedience
Beyond those five basic elements, Laurie Williams, dog trainer and owner/director of behavior counseling and training at Pup ‘N Iron offers online puppy classes.
In Pup ‘N Iron’s online puppy kindergarten classes, pet parents who own a pup up to seven months of age will learn:
- Basic obedience and manners to get your pup used to following your direction using positive reinforcement and rewards (we never use fear and intimidation!).
- Overall problem solving will make housebreaking easier and show your puppy what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
- Impulse control exercises that prompt your puppy to make good choices.
- Appropriate games to play with your puppy that is both fun and educational
- Guidance for socialization despite social distancing constraints during indoor time.
Best of allow, dog moms and dads can attend classes any time of day or night, do not need to appear on camera, and can learn at their own pace.
Learn more about Pup ‘N Iron online puppy kindergarten classes here.
Here’s our interview with Laurie Williams with more tips to keep dogs busy and active while staying inside:
Good Old Fashioned Canine Fun Activities
Nose work is a sport modeled after professional K9 detection work like narcotics, bomb, and human remains detection. Dogs are trained to recognize and search for cotton swabs scented with specific odors; birch, anise, and clove essential oils are the ones used in U.S. organizations devoted to the sport.
Dog mom and nose work trainer, Lauren Walsh, shared a fun indoor game called Handler Discrimination, a kind of scent work game where they look for your scent instead of target odors.
“It’s a small space and budget-friendly activity that really gives dogs a nice mental workout,” Walsh said. “The AKC even has a trial division for it.”
Here’s Lauren in action with her Cocker Spaniels:
You don’t have to do anything formal and you don’t have to worry about anyone judging you. Doggy dance is a great workout for you and your pooch. Get clearance from your dog’s veterinarian before starting any sort of training.
I didn’t want to professionally compete, but I did want to do something new and fun with Dexter. Three to four times a week from the comfort of our own home, Dexter and I gained synchronicity, strengthened our bond, and he started looking forward to the sessions like a pro. Notice how I strung together the various trick dog commands into a dance routine.
Indoor Chuck It Balls
Sometimes, a good game of indoor chase is all you need to do with your dog. We are fans of the Chuckit Indoor ball dog toy as it the plush, chenille fabric is soft on mouths, durable for heavier chewers, and safer indoors.
Snag an indoor ChuckIt ball here.
Blow Dog-Safe Bubbles
Bubbles are a hit for many dogs, but you must use dog-friendly/dog-safe bubbles. Never let a dog consume the bubble solution in large amounts, and always supervise bubble fun play.
Bubbletastic makes a bubble blowing machine that is touted as safe and non-toxic for dogs and kids.
Play With Balloons
My dog is an enigma. He is averse to thunderstorms and fireworks, but he enjoys bouncing a balloon off his nose when I bounce it to him.
Being a Cocker Spaniel, when the balloon pops he wants to pulverize the balloon remnants, so use caution and supervision when playing balloon games indoors.
Plastic Water Bottle Plush Toy
This stuffing-free dog toy features a plastic water bottle inside for dogs to crinkle. Now and then, I play tug-of-war with my dog with this toy. This is also a good toy for teething puppies and to engage pups with different sounds.
Amazon has a variety of them available, which you can find here.
Hide And Seek
Start out with a few of your dog’s favorite treats. This game requires two people. One person stays with your dog in a room, while the other hides. When ready to be sought, the person hiding lets out a sound to initiate the game. As your dog scours from room to room, occasionally let out a verbal signal. Once found, praise him like he just won an Olympic medal and reward with a treat. Repeat.
Peek a Boo
Linda Sue Berard is a Cocker mom who plays a fun indoor game with her Cocker, Olivia, called “peek a boo.” Start by placing a favorite toy under a small pillow. Tell your pup to find it! Give her a few seconds then show it to her. Play a couple of times then quite. Try it again.
When she looks at the pillow or paws it praise and give her a small reward. Once your dog gets the hang of it, you can start moving it under other things and tell her to find it. Use the same small toy each time. Once she gets it, put a name to that toy. She will be able to go get it and bring it to you.
Toss and Hide
Take ball playing to another level and when you toss your dog a ball indoors, while he is chasing it, you hide somewhere. Behind a door, in another room, etc. When he comes back with the ball, shout “find me” or “where am I” and the fun begins. Reward and praise your dog when he finds you with “good boy or good girl” and throw the ball again.
One On One Play Sessions
Sometimes I simply Cocker wrestle with my dog. That’s the name I gave to light roughhousing where my dog chases me, I roll onto the floor, he teases at me, I tease back. We never let it get out of hand and no excessive mouthing or bitting is allowed.
Canine Arts & Crafts
Create lasting memories with a dog theme for some indoor doggy fun. Since these projects require a cooperative dog, try a play session or long walk prior to starting.
My friend, Colleen O’Fallon of Sweet Paws Bakery in Florida, includes doggie art projects into her daycare services for pooches. She is incredibly clever in the different “take-home” gifts the dogs give to their moms and dads when it’s time to go home.
Depending on the season, all this takes is some craft paper, markers, stickers if desired, and a non-toxic paint to dip your dog’s paw into for printing. Imagine giving a cherished keepsake like this to a friend, family member, or co-worker of their dog’s pawprint. Colleen does them for so many occasions with her daycare guests. You can even self-laminate the finished project and frame it as a fun and cherished gift.
Be sure to use non-toxic paints that easily wash off a dog’s paws when you are finished. Colleen uses Crayola kids’ non-toxic washable paint and a small paintbrush to paint the pup’s paw and it washes off easily with water.
Pearhead makes a pet pawprint kit or you can use Kool-Aid packets. Just use a small amount of water to create more of a paste. If it’s too watered down, the mixture won’t spread evenly on your pup’s paw.
After the next grooming session, save a piece of dog hair a few inches in length. For shorter-haired breeds, save enough hair from brushing to twist into a small lock. Twist hair and tie the ends with a small piece of ribbon. Using a clear glass ornament, remove the hanger piece, insert the hair, and decorate the outside.
Custom Dog Magnets
This custom dog magnet craft, thankfully, is super easy, doesn’t cost a lot of money, and the finished product looks like something purchased from a cute dog boutique.
Learn to make custom dog magnets here.
Make Pooch Pupsicles
Sometimes all it takes to put a wag in your dog’s tail are some easy-to-make homemade frozen goodies.
Try these poochie pupsciles and no-salt chicken broth pops.
Whether you have zero artistic talent (like me) or have a flair for drawing or painting, painting your pooch on a rock is a great way to pass time while indoors.
Trace your dog’s face onto a sheet of paper first to get the hang of it. The folks at Inspiration Edit use a white Posca pen to draw the face into the stone. Using colored markers, fill in the rest.
DIY Dog Silhouette Art
If you’ve ever seen those fancy dog silhouette pieces of art in stores, you know the disappointment when you can’t find your favorite breed. How about using your actual dog’s profile for a forever framed keepsake?
Over at The Creativity Exchange, there’s a step-by-step tutorial to make canine magic.
Pom Pom Puppies
I’ve seen this project talked about in various blogger circles. Make your own sweet doggies at home using all the materials and instructions in this kit.
The company is Klutz and they call it 100% Klutz certified. There are nine different breeds to make from Pomeranians to Chihuahuas.
Purchase a Pom Pom Puppies kit here.
Canine Health & Hygiene
Beyond the 10 touches we discussed above, there are some basic in-home healthcare routines you can establish at any age with your dog.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Without doing something proactive to keep your dog’s teeth clean, I can nearly guarantee you that your dog will suffer for it. Some dogs hate teeth brushing, and if you have a dog like that, this article is especially for you.
Here are 10 tips for dogs who hate teeth brushing.
Learn To Clip Your Dog’s Nails
If you really have your heart set on learning to clip dog nails at home and are willing to put in the practice work, then this is the blog post for you.
Learn To Groom Your Dog At Home
The main reasons I wanted to learn to groom my Cocker is for safety, security, and to take care of his coat needs on my own schedule without having to schlep him to a professional and plunk down $60. It’s worth it, but an innate desire to groom him led me to where I am today.
Grooming A Cocker Spaniel At-Home Tips & Tricks
Strengthen Your Dog’s Immune System
When a harsh dose of reality in the form of a threat to my dog’s immune system reared its ugly head, my dog mom ‘fight back ‘ mode instinctively kicked in. Rather than giving into a nasty immune system disease, here’s how I learned to strengthen my dog’s immune system and so can you.
Note: Always check with your dog’s veterinarian before making any changes.
Learn To Safely Treat Canine Arthritis
Whether your dog has been limping, is older and showing signs of arthritis, or you want to safely start a supplement or steps to slow arthritis down, you’ve landed in the right spot.
Dog Parents Guide to Safely Slow Canine Arthritis
Find Out Which Homemade Dog Treats Are Dangerous
Not all biscuits are created equal. In fact, some homemade dog treat ingredients can be dangerous to your dog’s health.
Get To Know Your Dog’s Eyes
Eyes of melted chocolate: This is the way many describe the Cocker Spaniel eye. Those gorgeous eyes also come with their fair share of difficulties. Here is your guide to problems and solutions with Cocker Spaniel’s eyes. (note: Most of this information applies to all breeds of dogs and mixed pooches, so read on)
Find Out Which Vegetables Dog Can Have
Some dogs go bonkers at the sound of a green bean snapping while others turn their nose up at anything from the produce section of the supermarket. This article will help you learn the best vegetables to feed dogs, how to easily prepare them, and which ones your pooch should avoid.
Learn To Cook For Your Dog In 15 Minutes A Week
Cooking for my dog is something I’ve always wanted to learn. Wanting to cook for your dog and being proficient at it are two completely different things. I learned to cook for my pooch in 15 minutes a week. As a result, he is healthier, and I know exactly what goes into his food.
Keep Your Dog’s Kidneys Healthy
Let’s talk canine kidneys, how to prevent illness, what to do if your dog has kidney disease or kidney failure, and how a few simple dietary and lifestyle changes may change your dog’s prognosis.
Kidney health in dogs
Indoor Group Games For Dogs
Some canine households have more than one dog, so that means an added layer of ingenuity.
Before you begin, be certain you know each dog’s limits. If dogs are treat-possessive or get a bit snappy around a certain pooch, ensure there is close supervision. Yelling or scolding dogs will defeat the purpose. Group games should be enjoyable for pets and parents.
Using a standard agility hurdle, dogs get their Caribbean groove on with this variation of “How low can you go?” fun. Let the music play while dogs walk under the limbo stick, lowering the bar a notch each round. The last dog to successfully go under the limbo stick without knocking it off wins. As an aside, I’ve actually judged a doggy limbo contest and it is incredibly fun, especially for the dogs who get oh so low.
Have each dog line up for some sleight of hand and treat. Place a treat into one closed fist, keeping the other fist empty. Ask each dog, “Which hand?” When your dog touches its nose to the fist that contains the treat, reveal the treat, and reward your dog. For a competitive spin, time each dog. The quickest canine is dubbed the winner. If you don’t engage with other dogs for group play, this is still a fun game to play with your dog one on one.
Set up a few mats on the floor, just as you would when playing the human counterpart version. Dogs must go to their mats and sit when the music stops. Before the music starts again, remove one mat. Owners may encourage their dogs, but no pushing or pulling is allowed. The last dog with a mat wins.
Remember the childhood game “Simon Says”? Dogs form a line in front of the “barker.” As commands are given, each dog reacts. Use fun, basic commands like “Sit,” “Down” and “Stay.” The last dog remaining is named the champ.
Paint Like “Paw-casso”
Dogs channel their inner Rembrandt with this activity. Mix together cornstarch, flour, water, and food coloring to a thickened consistency. Or alternatively, use non-toxic acrylic paint. Put paint on art paper, place plastic wrap on top of it, and let Bowser walk all over it. Remove the plastic wrap, allow to air-dry, then proudly display.
Treat Catch Contest
Each dog must be adept at sit-stay and/or have someone nearby to supervise. Be sure there are several feet between each dog so there is no room for interceptions.
Each dog is allocated 10 treats (nothing huge and nothing the dog can choke on, please). Each owner tosses a treat to their pup. If you own all the dogs, you can do this separately or with the dogs separately but in the same room. The dog to catch the most treats out of ten is the winner!
Take An Online Obedience Class
Laurie Williams is an awesome positive reinforcement dog trainer who offers online intermediate and advanced challenge classes.
The objective of these classes is to take your dog training to the next level and improve your dog’s skills to an advanced level. Laurie requires no long-term commitment and includes LIVE online sessions in real-time.
Learn more about Pup ‘N Iron online classes for dogs here.
Other Things To Do Indoors With Your Dog
Combine one part dog and one part cognition and you’ve got Dognition. Dognition tests 5 areas of your dog’s inner puppy, and the best part is: There are NO wrong answers. The games measure empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning.
Here’s our experience with Dognition.
Test Your Dog’s IQ
I purchased this dog when I had my first Cocker Spaniel, Brandy Noel. I also repeated the assessment with my second Cocker, Dexter. The book is easy to follow, very thorough, and worth your time.
The Dog IQ Test book
Call A Senior Center
If and only if you have access to go outside to brighten someone else’s day, visit a senior center or those who can see outside but can’t go outside.
Pam Vruwink of Minnesota recently visited a senior living community with her dog, Harmony. “We participated in a socially distant dog parade around a senior living community this weekend. It was so fun to see the joy the dogs brought to residents inside!”
Brush Your Dog
Prevent mats from forming and keep skin oils stimulated with regular brushing.
Netflix and Chill
Your dog isn’t a robot (yay) and one of his favorite activities is to hang out on the couch to get some snuggle time during our binge times.
Join a Facebook Group Dedicated to Dogs
Love Cocker Spaniels? Join Club Cocker: Wigglebutts Worldwide.
Have a penchant for other pooches? Search for your favorite breed or mutt groups on Facebook.
Moisturize Your Pup’s Paws
This is a miracle cream in a jar, and I am even using it. I am not one to be easily sold on claims of a product being a miracle, but this one sets the bar high. Dr. Harvey’s Organic Healing Cream is a combination of healing herbs in a base of organic shea butter. This cream is used for minor skin irritations, hot spots, rashes, cuts, sunburn, and itching. It is great for human bug bites, too! I use it on Dexter’s paw pads: They are oh so smooth and soft now. Toss this in your dog’s first aid bag right away.
Hide A Squirrel
I would be remiss if I did not include the classic Hide-A-Squirrel game on this list of indoor dog games.
Fill the stuffed puzzle tree trunk with the three stuffed squeaky squirrels and watch your dog have a blast.
Become a PupScout
Similar to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts organization, PupScouts is strictly for dogs and their parents. I learned about this amazing group from my good friend, Susan Godwin who is the founder.
You and your dog can earn badges and partake in their celebrations and activities from the comfort of home. Learn more about becoming a PupScout here.
Laundry Basket Fetch
Sarah Wall, the founder of Sarah Renee Creative, says her Cocker Spaniel, Sulley, loves to drop his ball in her laundry basket and then fetch it out!
“This morning he proceeded to get inside the basket and pull out all my clothes to get his ball,” she shared.
Canine Toy Freestyle
I love to dump my dog’s box of toys and see how he reacts. Dog mom Naomi Lukaszewski knows all about that, well sort of. Her dog, Opie, watches, and Naomi removes his toys from the human bed and places them on the floor. Opie proceeds to take each toy and take each one back onto the bed. Clever!
Monitor & Record Your Dog’s Vitals
A diligent dog parent knows when to feed their dog, that weight management is important, having veterinary checkups is key, but what about dog vital signs? It’s important to know what is normal so that when something is not right, you can seek veterinary care for your dog.
Here are dog vital signs every dog parent should know.
Have An Indoor Picnic In A Pup Tent
When not in use outdoors, the P.L.A.Y. Dog Tent is perfect for indoor activity with your dog. It weighs under five pounds, made of high-performance fabric, and is cozy enough for me to snuggle inside with Dexter. He even takes his toys inside!
Start A Dog Blog
We’ve been pet blogging for well over a decade and it is work but very rewarding. Get your dog on the blog and start your own. I co-authored the book on the topic of pet blogging along with Maggie Marton.
Snag your copy of Pet Blogging for Live & Money here.
Get Your Hedgehog On
Affordable, adorable, cute for your own dog, and nicely priced for gifting. I order these two at a time.
Pet Qwerks Plush Hedgehog Interactive Dog Toy with CUTE CHATTERING ELECTRONIC SOUNDS
GIVEAWAY CLOSED AND THE WINNER IS LYNN WOBECK.
Simply comment below and tell us something you do with your dog(s) while indoors. US residents only, please. One entry per person. Complete rules here. One random winner will be selected on May 1, 2020, and the winner will be notified by email.