How to keep your dog busy and active indoors

How to keep your dog busy and active indoors

When the weather drives you inside, keep both your dog — and you — entertained with an DIY obstacle course and interactive games!

Ready to have some fun indoors with your canine companion? Try these activities on for size!

Create a DIY obstacle course!

For many active and high energy dogs, spending the day inside can be boring. Typical indoor activities might not be engaging enough to keep your pup happy. It’s time to get creative and use objects in your home to make a new and exciting game you can both enjoy – a dog obstacle course!

5 crafty indoor obstacles for dogs

Building an indoor obstacle course for your pup doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Check out these simple tips to turn your home into a fun play space for your dog.

1. Tunnel

All it takes is a few dining chairs and a large blanket. Line up two rows of chairs back-to-back. Leave enough space in the middle of the rows for your dog to safely run between.

If you want to make it a little more realistic, take a large blanket and drape it over the chairs so it creates a darker tunnel for your dog to run through. Remember to have a tasty reward waiting for him at the other end.

2. Hurdles

Grab a small foot stool for your dog to leap. Bigger dogs should be capable of clearing it with no problem, but smaller breeds should be more cautious. Teach them to jump on the stool and then down the other side.

3. Army crawl

Teaching your dog to crawl is a great exercise. You’ll need a low table, like a coffee table, that your dog can comfortably fit under.

Encourage your dog to crawl on his belly under the table from one end to the other. This obstacle is better suited to small and medium-sized breeds, but depending on the height of your table, a larger breed may enjoy this game too.

4. Zig zag

The zig zag obstacle is an excellent training exercise for dogs. Set up a row of small obstacles on the floor, like boxes, chairs, or even shoes. The goal is to get your dog to zig zag through the obstacles all the way down the line.

This one is best taught using a “follow the leader” technique. Encourage your dog to follow you through the zig zag. Give him extra incentive with some tasty snacks if he doesn’t seem interested.

5. Stairs

Stairs are a built-in obstacle for your dog. Having him run the stairs a few times will get his blood pumping and intensify the obstacle course.

This works best on carpeted stairs. Smooth materials can be slippery, and you want to make sure your dog doesn’t get injured while playing.

Put it all together

Now that you have a few basic ideas, it’s time to put them all together into a full indoor canine obstacle course. The possibilities are endless, so get creative! Remember to change up the obstacle course occasionally to keep your dog from getting bored.

Play “find it” games

Almost all dogs love “find it” games, and they work for all ages and sizes, and levels of mobility. They can be played either indoors or outdoors.

Find the treat

This is the best way to teach your dog the meaning of “find it”. Cue your dog into a “stay” position. Place ten of your dog’s favorite treats on the floor about three feet apart. Release your dog and tell him to “find it.” After each treat he’s eaten, say “find it” again. Repeat this process, and start to gradually increase the distance between the treats. Eventually, the treats will be far enough apart that he won’t see them, but will begin looking for them with his nose. If he seems uncertain, help guide him, and next round place the treats a bit closer together again, until he gets it.

Find the toy

Once your dog has a good understanding that “find it” means he’s to hunt for treats, you can introduce “find the toy”. Start with a good game of fetch with your dog’s favorite toy. Then ask him to stay, or place him out of sight, and put the toy on the floor where it will be right within his sight. Release your dog and say “Find the ball/toy/bone”. Once he grabs it, start playing with him again. Repeat this process. As with finding treats, you’ll slowly begin to make it more difficult for him to find the toy.

Finding you

Ask your dog to “stay”, or duck away when he’s distracted. Hide behind something that’s close to your dog. In a happy singsong voice, say your dog’s name and “find me!” Then be very quiet and still. Let your dog search for you. If he’s having a difficult time, make a little noise or call his name again. When he finds you, jump for joy and tell him what a good boy he is. One word of caution: if your dog seems stressed when he cannot find you, this may not be a good game for him.

These are just a few ideas for enjoying play and exercise with your dog. The sky really is the limit, so use your imagination. The most important part is that you both have fun!