30 Dog Games to Play with Pups Young and Old, Indoors and Out

Photo of Hounds Lounge Owner Mandy blowing bubbles with dogs outside

There’s no shortage of dog games to play with Fido! However, not all games are created equal, and it’s important to find the right ones for you and your pooch. To help you narrow your search, the Hounds Lounge pack has broken down the fun games to play with your pup into six different categories, including DIY games, games to make dogs smarter, indoor games, games to keep dogs fit, sense of smell games, and games for older dogs.

Start reading now, and find the perfect dog games to play with your fur fam.

5 DIY Games to Play with Dog

Need a new game but don’t want to spend a lot of money? To play the following games, you can use household items you already have on your paws!

Dogs playing outside

1. Muffin Tin Puzzle

For this game, you’ll need a muffin tin, tennis balls and treats. Start playing by dropping treats into each muffin cup, covering them with tennis balls, and handing the tin off to Fido! Once your woof has figured out how to reach the treats, you can up the ante by only putting a treat in some of the cups but covering them all with tennis balls. This game requires your dog to solve problems and flex their sniffer!

2. Treat Burrito

To cook up a treat burrito, all you need is a towel and some small treats! Lay the towel out flat, then scatter treats all over its surface. Roll the towel up slowly, keeping each treat in place, then serve up the burrito to your pooch. They’ll have a grrreat time unrolling the towel to get to each treat.

3. Cardboard Tube Treats

Cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rolls can be repurposed into dog toys! One game option is to fill a cardboard tube with peanut butter, then give it to your woof to lick up. You can freeze the tube if you want to keep Fido occupied for longer!

Another way to use cardboard tubes to play fun games with your dog is to arrange several tubes in a shoebox so that they all support each other and stand up straight. (The tubes should all be roughly the same height.) Drop treats and/or kibble into the tubes, and present the puzzle to Fido! Your woof will thoroughly enjoy hunting down every bite.

Dog with Treat

4. Snack Track Down

This game can involve empty containers of any size, from shoeboxes to yogurt cups (rinsed clean, of course). If your woof is on the larger size, you’ll use larger containers, and vice versa.

You’ll want to set up the game when your dog isn’t around. Place a few containers on the ground, with at least one hiding a smelly treat! Then, bring Fido in to sniff out the prize!

When you first play this game, you might want to poke holes in the containers to make the treats easier to smell. As your pooch becomes a pro at this game, you can make it harder by adding more containers and spreading them out farther, with only one container hiding a treat!

5. Ball Pit-Palooza

If you want to really stimulate your dog’s brain and nose, you’ll need an empty kiddie pool and a lot of balls! Fill the pool with balls, then sprinkle small treats on top. When your dog enters the pool to get their paws on the treats, the balls will shift, and the treats will move! This is one of the more challenging dog activities to play, but it’s very rewarding for Fido.

This game – and most of the dog games to play above – is also a good option for feeding a fast eater. You can scatter a full serving of dry dog food in the pool, and your pooch won’t be able to wolf it down as quickly as usual.

5 Games to Make Dogs Smarter

Playing with dogs isn’t just furr fun – it can be educational too! Below are dog games to play that can up Fido’s IQ.

Dog playing with a blue ball

1. Hide-and-Seek

To play hide-and-seek with your woof, have them sit and stay while you go find a hiding place. Once you’re concealed, tell them to “come” and find you! Reward Fido’s search skills with treats and/or attention.

2. Treasure Hunt

A treasure hunt is similar to hide-and-seek, except you will hide a smelly treat (or toy) rather than yourself! Tell your dog to sit and stay, then go hide the prize. Once it’s concealed, give Fido the green light by saying “okay” or a similar command, and the hunt is on!

3. Cool Tricks to Teach Your Dog

Learning new tricks definitely makes dogs smarter! In our blog, Five Cool Tricks to Teach Your Dog, we explain how to teach High-Five, Sit, Down, Stay & Come, and Spin. If they know all these tricks, your pooch is sure to be at the top of their Doggie Daycare class.

4. Stop and Go

Some fun games to play with your pup can also reinforce training. Stop and Go is a game that helps doggos practice their “come” and “stay” commands.

Get Fido a little riled up and excited, then create some space between the two of you. Ask your pooch to “come,” but, before they can get to you, tell them to “stay.” If they successfully stop in their tracks, reward your woof with a treat. Keep playing by repeating this routine a few times over! Stop and Go teaches your dog how to control himself, plus it strengthens his listening skills.

Puppies Playing On Jungle Gym

5. Name Game

According to the American Psychological Association, the average dog can learn 165 words! Chances are, your woof doesn’t know that many words yet. A great way to teach them new words is to name their favorite toys, people, and activities.

It’s probably easiest to name a toy. If your woof has a stuffed rabbit that they love, name it “Bunny” and say Bunny’s name any time your dog is playing with this particular toy, as well as when you’re giving the toy to your pooch or taking it away. You can test Fido’s skills by laying out Bunny plus two other toys and telling your dog to “Get Bunny.”

5 Dog Games to Play Indoors

You don’t have to go outside to play fun games with your dog! Below are great dog games to play for rainy days, late nights, and for folks who might not have a yard!

Doggy Playing on the Phone Indoors

1. Clean Up, Clean Up

Looking for fun games to play with your pup that are also beneficial to you? Clean up is the clear winner! With this game, you teach your dog to literally clean up after themselves. Introduce a toy bin or laundry basket, and teach your dog to drop their toys inside. You will want to use commands like “retrieve,” “drop it,” and “put it away” to help your dog learn this game.

2. Snuffle Mat

If you need to keep your dog occupied for a good while, it’s time to get out the snuffle mat. Snuffle mats require your dog to sniff out treats that are hidden in folds and pockets. This game is quiet and mess-free, making it perfect for playing with dogs in the great indoors!

You can order a snuffle mat on Amazon, or you can easily make your own with a sink mat and strips of fleece from an old blanket!

3. Obstacle Course

Test your woof’s agility with an at-home obstacle course! Clear some space and then use household items to design your course. Your woof could weave around stacks of books, shimmy under chairs, hop over blankets or jump through a hula hoop! Even indoors, an obstacle course offers great mental and physical stimulation.

4. Staircase Run

If you have stairs in your house or apartment, they offer fun and physical dog games to play! One game you can play is “racing” your dog up the stairs, as this gives you both some good exercise. However, be careful not to run too fast, or you could take a tumble!

If you don’t feel like running yourself, you can use the stairs for a variation of fetch. Have Fido “stay” at the bottom of the staircase, throw a toy to the top of the stairs, then give your dog the cue to chase the toy. After a few runs, your woof will be pooped out!

Impawtant Note: Don’t play these stair games with older dogs, growing pups, or dogs who struggle with bad joints or arthritis. It’s also best to play these games on carpeted stairs rather than on wood or concrete surfaces… the harder the surface, the harder the fall!

Happy Dog Eating

5. Obedience Training

If you and Fido will be inside together for a good chunk of time, why not work on some training? In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, the indoors are a good place to start teaching “come”:

Start your training in a slow, low-distraction environment, like inside your house. First, show your dog a toy or a treat, praise them as they are coming to you, then reward them. After a few repetitions, whenever your dog looks at you and starts to move towards you, add in your chosen verbal cue (come, here, etc.). Make sure to only add in the cue when you are confident your dog is moving towards you.

You can slowly up the ante by asking your dog to come before showing them the treat. But, be sure to reward with a high-value treat like chicken, cheese, or beef liver, when they get to you. Also, try slowly adding distance within your low-distraction environment.

For more training tips, check out our blog, How to Teach Your Dog to Come: Reliable Recall Training.

With positive reinforcement and treats, learning can be fun – and even considered a game! Plus, learning commands like “come” make all games safer for pooches to play. Good training ensures that dogs listen to their owners and stay disciplined, even during fun times!

Dogs playing to keep fit

5 Games to Keep Dogs Fit

Many dog games to play actually double as exercise! Give your woof a workout with the games below.

1. Tug-of-War

Tug-of-War is a classic game, but did you know that the tugging and pulling is also great exercise for your dog? Typically using a rope toy, you and your dog can play tug-of-war inside or outside, and little space is needed. You want to challenge your woof but also allow them to win on occasion! (It’s no fun if you win every time!)

Impawtant Note: If your dog’s teeth get close to your hand while playing tug-of-war, stop playing immediately. This will teach your dog that they are not allowed to nip at you and, if they do, the fun is over. It’s also important to train your woof to drop the rope on command. Tug-of-war is a dominance game to them, and they need to know that you’re the boss.

2. Fetch

Fetch is another classic that burns some serious calories. If you also want to get some exercise while playing fetch, try out this tip from our blog, 8 Ways to Make Exercising with Your Dog More Fun:

Take your dog for a normal round of fetch using a ball or their favorite toy. Throw it as far as you possibly can, then proceed to do several rounds of burpees, situps, pushups, and/or lunges while your pooch fetches their toy and brings it back. Repeat until you are both pooped!

Play fetch with a tennis ball or other ball designed for retrieving. If you really want to get your dog excited, play fetch with a frisbee!

Dog playing in sprinkler

3. Sprinkler Fun

Sprinklers offer fun games to play with your pup and your kiddos! If you have little ones and furry ones in the family, playing in the sprinkler is a great way to keep everyone happy on a hot day. Set up your sprinkler where the grass is dry and show your pooch how to jump over the water! This is a great way to get Fido’s heart rate up while also keeping him cool.

Impawtant Note: While your dog can get a sip of sprinkler water, you and the kids should stick to drinking water from inside the house.

4. Soccer

It’s pawsible to play a dog-friendly version of soccer! Get a soccer ball and teach your pooch how to nudge it with their snout. Reward their “passes” with a treat! Eventually, try softly kicking the ball toward your pooch and see if they pass it back. If Fido masters passing, give him a shot at playing defense! Dribble the ball up to him, and see if he steals it from you.

Before you know it, your woof will be a regular footballer!

Dogs Playing With Bubbles

5. Chase Bubbles

See how many bubbles your pooch can pop! Get a bottle of nontoxic bubbles for kids, and blow a few at a time in front of Fido. To show your woof how it’s done, point to the bubbles and pop some yourself. Pretty soon, your fur baby will be romping around bursting bubbles! When you’re done playing, be sure to wipe the soapy suds off Fido’s face.

After you’ve played any of these active – and somewhat messy – games, a dog wash might be in order. Luckily, you can make a Dog Grooming appointment at Hounds Lounge to get Fido all cleaned up. From a classic bath to a spa treatment, your fur baby can get the services they need to look like a million bones.

Dog working on its sense of smell

5 Sense of Smell Dog Games to Play

Dogs have extra-strong sniffers – smell is their most powerful sense. Therefurr, playing with dogs is extra fun when smells are involved! Check out these scent-focused dog games to play with Fido.

1. Which Hand Game

You’ve probably played a guessing game like this yourself – for example, maybe someone has asked you, “Which hand has a quarter in it?” while holding up their two fists. Well, for a dog, this isn’t a guessing game at all. It’s all based on scent!

Get the game started by putting a treat in one of your hands when your woof isn’t looking. Close your hands into loose fists, then present your dog with both hands. Your pooch will sniff around a bit, but they should ultimately linger on the hand with the treat, which you will then give them as a reward!

To make the game more challenging, have a friend join in to double the pawsibilities! Who doesn’t like playing with dogs?

2. Where’s My Dinner?

This game involves making Fido work for his food! Most woofs’ meals are served in the same spot every day – but it’s actually very enriching for them to have to track down their dinner. Play this game by getting Fido distracted or tucking him away before preparing his meal. Then, put the meal in a room that’s close to but separate from his usual dining area.

When you release the hound (or call him for supper), and he sees that dinner isn’t in its usual place, he’ll start hunting for it. This is a great mental exercise and a chance for your dog to use his instincts! If his sniffer skills are strong, he’ll find dinner fairly quickly. You can make this game more difficult by changing up the dinner location often and moving it further away from Fido’s original place setting!

3. Stroll and Sniff

Walks are a great way to allow your dog to exercise his nose – out and about, there are so many new scents to take in! You can turn a walk into a game by bringing along some small treats and pausing every now and then to drop a treat into a grassy area. Show your dog the treat before you toss it, and then give them a little time to track it down.

Impawtant Note: Don’t play this game in someone else’s flower bed!

Dog getting a treat

4. Treat Trail

When your doggo isn’t around, lay out a short trail of small (and low calorie) treats with a larger treat waiting at the end. Then, bring your dog around and show them where the trail starts, and watch them follow it to their reward! Once Fido has mastered short trails, you can create longer ones with more space between each treat.

5. Find that One

This is one of those dog games to play that will make you think your woof is a genius (if you don’t already think so)! Bring several dog toys into an open area, either indoors or outdoors. Scatter them around the ground. Then, get your pooch and start playing with one of these toys. Both of you should make plenty of contact with the toy so that your scents will linger.

Once you’ve played with the toy for a bit, grab your dog by the collar and toss the toy back amongst the others on the ground. Then, tell your woof to “find that one” and release! The goal is for Fido to bring back the toy you were both just playing with. This game is not just about identifying the most recent toy – it’s about identifying the toy that has the strongest aroma of you and your woof!

If Fido brings back the wrong toy, take it with little acknowledgment and continue asking them to “find that one.” When they bring you the right toy, it’s treat time!

Golden Retriever playing in kiddie pool

5 Games for Older Dogs

Contrary to pupular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks and new games! The dog games to play listed below are senior dog-friendly, as well as great options for dogs with joint problems, arthritis or other health concerns. Shhh, don’t tell Fido, but a few of these games are actually physical therapy… that you can treat like a game!

1. Swimming

If your older dog – or young dog – likes water, swimming is one of the grrreat games to play with dog. Swimming is a low-impact sport that’s easy on the joints and muscles, but it’s still a fun way to get Fido moving. Before you go swimming with your pooch, make sure they know how to doggie paddle – if they don’t, you can get them a life vest!

2. Cavaletti Course

This game is a toned down version of an obstacle course, making it perfect for older dogs. Set it up by placing a few poles (such as broomsticks) about a foot apart. Then, slowly walk your pooch through the course while keeping them on a short leash. This is a good strength exercise, and you can make it more challenging by lifting the sticks one or two inches with crushed soda cans or pillows.

3. Modified Fetch

Fetch is a timeless dog game to play! Even if your woof doesn’t get around as well as they once did, they can still play a modified version of fetch. You might consider rolling the ball on the ground instead of throwing it. You can also use a ball that’s in the shape of an octagon rather than a sphere, as it won’t roll as fast or as far away.

Sleepy Pup

Impawtant Note: For dogs with aches and pains, you should keep the retrieving distance short and stay aware of your woof’s energy levels – don’t push them too hard. Know when to wrap up fetch and move into nap time!

4. Backward Walking

Back it up, Fido! Backward walking is a fun game that helps your dog strengthen their rear legs and also improves balance and coordination. Play by holding up a toy or treat in front of your dog and telling them “back,” as you approach them. When you get close enough to him, Fido should take a step back, and you will reward him with a treat! To avoid pushing your woof’s limits, this is another game you should keep short and sweet.

5. Puzzle Dog Games to Play

Puzzle games are grrreat dog games to play for any woofs, including seniors! Dogs with older bodies can still have very sharp minds, and it’s important for you to help keep Ol’ Fido mentally stimulated. Many of the puzzle games listed above are good options for mature pooches, including the Muffin Tin Puzzle, Treat Burrito, Cardboard Tube Treats and Snuffle Mat.

Fun and Games with Furriends!

While playing games with their hooman is super fun for a woof, it’s hard to beat playing with dogs! Let your pooch release their inner pack animal by bringing them to Doggie Daycare at Hounds Lounge, where they can pawty all day in our leash-free indoor/outdoor play yards! Their furrst day of daycare is free! Make a reservation now at any of our locations.

Experience Doggie Daycare at Hounds Lounge