Rainy Day? 6 Games to Exercise Your Dog Indoors - Bonnie and Clyde Pet Goods

Rainy Day? 6 Games to Exercise Your Dog Indoors

Oh no! The weather is terrible outside. It wouldn't matter much, but you have to take your best friend out for his/her walk.

There's rain, snow, ice, wind – the occasional zombie apocalypse – whatever the reason, it just wouldn't be smart to take you and your dog out there for any length of time. Best to wait until it all quietens down.

But your dog needs exercise. If he/she doesn't get enough stimulation they'll be full of restless energy and that's only going to be bad for their health, and your furniture.


One thing every pet loves is playing. Some dogs are more playful than others, but they all enjoy a game or two.

We're not talking about playing chess with them – although that would be both bizarre and cool – we're talking about the type of game you can play with your dog indoors while the rain soaks everyone outside and the wind blows toupees off a head or two.

Below, we've selected the top 6 games to exercise your dog indoors and engage their brains to help keep them alert and healthy.

It should be noted that all dogs need regular walks, but the games we've listed are great alternatives for you if there's an odd day when that's not possible. The games can also be used to supplement walks for dogs who are especially energetic.

#1 Hide and Seek

We all loved playing hide and seek as a child, and your dog will be no different. All dog breeds have a search or tracking impulse, although some breeds such as German Shepherds, Beagles, and Bloodhounds are more inclined in this way. Regardless, with a little bit of training your dog can enjoy hide and seek too.

It will stimulate their cardiovascular system when played over and over, but more so it will engage their minds. This is a great option for older dogs who find it more difficult to get out and about.

Most owners have a command which means “go find it”. For those who don't, your dog will quickly pick it up. A great way to play is to put your dog in a room, closing the door behind you as you leave.

Now, go and find a place to hide either a treat or a favorite toy somewhere accessible – not in your favorite vase or shoe, that will only end in an expensive disaster! Go back to your dog and let them into the rest of the house, prompting him/her with vocal cues of “find it”.

You can also encourage them when they are near the target, letting them know when they are getting further away, with other words or sounds of your choice.

#2 Track the Toy

The Game's Apaw!

(Photo Courtesy of thesciencedog)

Also known as “Track the Treat”, this game is great fun for you and your dog. It will encourage them to use their sense of smell which is an effective way to stimulate their minds and keep one of their most important senses on point.

To play this game you'll need some cardboard boxes or tupperware containers. It's best to start with two. Leave your dog in another room and put the containers upside down on the floor. Inside one, place your dog's favorite toy or a treat. Ensure that your dog cannot see which container or box the treat is in.

Now, encourage your dog to smell each container and, when they stop at the one with the treat or toy, congratulate them. Reveal the prize and let them play with it so they can enjoy their reward.

After doing this a few times you dog will understand that, by finding the correct box, they will get their toy or treat. Now, add a few more boxes or containers and make the game more difficult for your pet, rewarding them each time they are right.

After a few rounds they will use their smell more precisely and will circle the boxes, tracking down the surprise. This game can be played for as little as 10 minutes, or for a more substantial amount of time until your dog tires.

#3 Tug of War

This is a great game which really gives your dog a good, solid workout. You can use a dog rope or toy, but if your pet has a favorite blanket that can work as well.

First of all, choose somewhere with a little space. Try to avoid any tables, chairs, or small children! A floor in your biggest room or in a hallway is a suitable choice.

Take the “rope” in hand and stand over your dog. Dangle it so that it gently brushes his/her face. This should encourage them to mouth the toy, blanket or rope, eventually holding it in their mouth. If they don't seem too bothered, use your tone and words to show your dog that you are excited and want them to join in.

Once the dog hangs on, pull gently at first, smiling and always using a happy tone so that your dog knows you are not annoyed. As you increase the pull, your dog will do likewise.

This gives your dog a great workout in terms of their jaw, neck, and legs. Just remember, don't pull too hard, and don't shake the “rope” too much so that you and the dog avoid injury.

#4 School Time

 If it's pouring with rain outside or you're snowed in, a great way to engage your dog and maximize your time is to use the opportunity to train them. This can be fun for your pet while helping you nurture discipline and good behavior – two welcome traits in any animal, and person.

There are a number of helpful training routines which you can use to keep your dog busy indoors. If you have a clicker this will work even faster, but you can use commands as well.

Set a chair or stool in the middle of the floor. Encourage your dog to walk underneath and through the stool. Reward them with a treat or encouragement each time. You can then teach them to walk around the chair in a circle, or over the top if possible.

Once your pet has mastered this, you can encourage more complicated behaviors like placing one or both paws on the stool, staying underneath the chair or stool when commanded, or backing out from underneath rather than stepping forward. There are so many fun tricks you can teach your dog while keeping them active and happy.

#5 Fetch

I Think I Got All of Them...

(Photo Courtesy of Funniest Place)

We think you know what this one is. Some breeds have more of a chase instinct, while others tend to favor retrieval, but regardless most dogs will fetch items for their owner with a little encouragement. The best part is, once your dog understands the game, he/she will do all the work and you can sit somewhere comfy.

To play indoors, choose something to throw for your dog. This could be a ball or a toy, but make sure that it isn't hard enough to smash your TV, Game of Thrones is on later and you wouldn't want to miss that.

If you have a hall or a long room, that would be best. Attract your dog's interest by gently rubbing the “fetchee” against his/her mouth. Use vocalizations to encourage a playful mood and then throw the toy/ball. Hopefully they will return it. If not, encourage your dog to hold the ball or toy in its mouth and then reward him/her with a treat.

Now, encourage your dog to pick the item up off of the ground and then reward this behavior. Lastly, place the item a foot away from your dog and reward him/her when they pick it up. You can then increase the distance, and reward your dog every time the ball or toy is returned until they are fully trained in the art of fetch.

#6 Tag!

Tag! You're it!

(Photo Courtesy of the Daily Mail)

This is a sometimes hilarious game which will give your dog some physical exercise for the day. It's also a great way to train your dog to come to you when asked,as no one likes to be ignored. There are several ways to play.

The easiest way involves you, your dog and a third person. Sit your dog in the middle of a room. You and the other person must then stand at either end of the room with some treats. One of you then calls for your dog and rewards when he/she obeys. The other then does the same.

Eventually you can build up to being in different rooms, encouraging your dog to run to you when asked. Remember to eventually phase out the rewards so that the game becomes the reward itself.

Another way to play is with just you and your dog – the dream team. It's a bit trickier and involves training your dog to sit and stay in a room by his/herself while you go to another room and then call out.

Lastly, you can turn tag into “chase”, by calling your dog's name as you run into another room. This is a great way to exercise you and your dog, and to annoy anyone living below you: the perfect game.

Bonus Games

These 6 games are great fun, promote good training, and will help you and your dog enjoy your time together indoors when going outside isn't much of an option. But, we don't want to leave you with just these, here are three more bonus games for you to try:

  • Forever Chasing Bubbles: With a little set of blowing bubbles, you can create a sea of things for your dog to chase and grab. Cheap, fun, and the kids can join in too.
  • Clean Up: Another great training game. With positive reinforcement you can lay out all of your dog's toys and get them to place them all in a box when asked. Helps cut down on housework.
  • Obstacle Course: If you're feeling really brave you can make an obstacle course out of clothes baskets, stools, chairs, and boxes. Train your dog to go through each and they'll get a good workout (and also be ready to enter America's Got Talent).

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Suggested Reads:

Staying Active With Your Dog: Ways to Stay in Shape this Fall


Brain-Boosting Games For Your Dog