Like humans, dogs can experience boredom and even cabin fever after being cooped up in one place for too long. Furrtunately, canine cabin fever is avoidable if you know how to entertain your dog indoors!

If you and your dog live in an apartment or another small home with limited outdoor space, this is the blog for you. This blog is also a helpful guide for the harsh winter months when pooches and hoomans want to spend as little time in the elements as pawsible. While we don’t get too much snow and ice in Arkansas, we know fur fams in other states get more than their fair share!

Entertaining a dog during winter

Additionally, some dogs simply don’t like to go outside. Whether it’s too cold, too hot, too rainy or even too sunny for their taste, they will try to stay indoors as much as they can. At Hounds Lounge doggy daycare, we see dogs every day who exclusively hang out in our indoor play yard. As you will learn in this blog, it’s okay for a pooch to spend a lot of time indoors, as long as you know how to keep your dog busy.

Wondering how to entertain your dog when living in an apawtment or any of the scenarios above? Let’s get you some solutions that will keep your woof happy and healthy in the grrreat indoors!

Mental Stimulation Is Essential

If your dog is a ball of energy, physical exercise alone will not calm them down. According to the American Kennel Club, “Mental fatigue makes dogs (and humans) feel more physically tired than a physical effort alone. You can use this bit of science to help your dog get what [they want] most – a nice long nap.” To really tire out Fido, you must exercise his brain just as much as his body. Luckily, mental exercise can easily be performed indoors!

While “mental exercise” might sound intense, it can be boiled down to something as simple as a game played between dog and pet pawrent. And the benefits of mental exercise go beyond a sleepy pup: Mental stimulation makes your dog feel satisfied, keeps their brain sharp and increases the bond between the two of you.

keeping a dog entertained at Hounds Lounge

Below, we’ve listed out ways to keep your dog entertained, with many examples involving mental stimulation. If you’re currently unsure of how to entertain your dog inside, keep reading to find some methods that will work in your home!

8 Ways to Entertain Your Dog: Body and Brain

Check out the following ways to keep your dog entertained indoors, ranging from physical exercise to brain games to simply keeping your dog occupied so you can get stuff done.

rope for playing tug of war
  1. Good Ol’ Tug-of-War

As we explained in our blog, 30 Dog Games to Play with Pups Young and Old, Indoors and Out

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!)

Tug-of-war is physically demanding, and it also allows for valuable one-on-one time with your dog. However, it’s important that you exert your dominance while playing this game. You should train your woof to drop the rope on command so they remember you’re the boss! Now, that’s how to entertain your dog and maintain your alpha status.

  1. Hide-and-Seek

Hide-and-seek offers the best of both worlds for beating dog boredom: physical and mental stimulation. And it also answers how to entertain your dog with multiple people, as it can involve a group of players, including kids. To play, have your dog sit and stay while you and the other hoomans go find a hiding place. Once everyone is concealed, take turns yelling out for Fido to “come” and find you!

entertaining a dog indoors
  1. Indoor Fetch

Fetch might typically be played outdoors, but when you need to keep your dog busy in the house, the indoors will do just fine! Use stairs or a hallway to toss a ball for Fido to retrieve – just remember to be careful. You don’t want to break any items, and you definitely don’t want Fido to hurt himself! To be extra safe, avoid playing indoor fetch on or near hardwood stairs, where the chances of slippage are high. And be careful on hardwood, tile, or polished concrete floors as well.

dog entertained by kong
  1. KONG/Non-Toxic Rubber Toy with Treats

A fool-proof way to keep your dog busy is to fill a KONG with treats or peanut butter and leave Fido to get the goodies out. This game can last even longer if you freeze peanut butter inside the KONG! While it’s fun for your dog to fish out the food, this game is also beneficial for hoomans when they need to get some work or chores done. 

  1. Teach Your Dog to Perform Tricks and Tasks

When you train your dog, you give them an incredible mental exercise. If you find yourself with a good amount of time on your paws wondering how to entertain your dog, have a training session! Not sure what to teach them? Check out our Five Cool Tricks to Teach Your Dog, which include high-five, sit, down, stay and come, and spin!

If your dog is already trained in the basics of obedience, you can up the ante and teach them how to do tasks around the home! Dogs can be taught to turn light switches on and off, throw away trash or recycle, and even bring a drink to you from the fridge. Pretty paw-some, right?

Dog helping with chores

If you want to keep things practical – but still impressive – you can teach your dog to assist you in following our Essential House Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners. Fido can help you out by learning how to put his dog toys away! Plus, this is another great example of exerting your dominance: When Fido’s toys are tucked away into a box or bin, this shows him that he isn’t the top dog of the house. 

Many dogs need a purpose in order to feel fulfilled. As we discuss in our blog, Caring for the Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds: A Guide, some woofs are literally working dogs! Therefurr, giving them a job – whether it’s as simple as a training session or as advanced as putting their toys away – can be extremely beneficial to your pooch. 

  1. Make Your Dog Work for Their Food

It’s in your dog’s nature to hunt or forage for their food. You can feed their natural instinct by making them work for it! Rather than scooping their kibble into their bowl, try out a food dispensing pet puzzle toy that requires your dog to get creative in order to access their food. If you have a super fast eater on your paws, this will keep your dog occupied and also help slow them down!

  1. Teach Your Dog to Run on the Treadmill

It’s good to know how to entertain your dog indoors, especially on the days a walk is not in the cards. Maybe your dog is a walk-a-holic – or a run-a-holic – and you just don’t always have the time, energy or open space to take them out for a stroll. Enter the treadmill, a great way to keep your dog occupied and wear them out!

dog running on treadmill

Even if you live in a small apartment, you can find a treadmill that will fit your space – some treadmills even fold up and can be stored under your bed. It’s a good investment for both you and your pooch.

You can get your dog started on their treadmill journey by bringing them to it while it’s turned off. Make sure they feel comfortable around the machine – show them how you walk on it yourself. Then, start them walking at a slow speed and build up to faster paces. You can use treats or a lick mat to keep them on track! Similar to a KONG, you can spread peanut butter on a lick mat and freeze it to keep your dog occupied for a longer amount of time.

  1. Make Your Dog Use Their Nose

Have you heard of nose work? According to Rover, nose work is “an activity that allows your dog to use their natural desire to hunt. It harnesses a dog’s unique ability to detect scent and determine the source.” In short, nose work is a way for your pooch to exercise their sniffer, and it gives them yet another way to feel a sense of purpose – or, in this case, a scents of purpose.

entertain your dog with new tricks

While nose work can be taken seriously as a dog sport, you can also play simple nose work games at home to keep your dog entertained. We recommend the three DIY games below as ways to entertain your dog:

1. Which Hand Game

Here’s how to entertain your dog with just your hands and treats! For this game, simply place a treat in one of your two hands when your dog isn’t looking. Make loose fists and present both hands to your dog. Allow them to sniff around for a bit and “choose” a hand. When they linger on the correct hand, reward them with the treat!

playing the shell game with a pup

2. Shell Game

To play the shell game, you’ll need three cups or small bowls. With or without your dog watching, place a treat under one of the “shells” and shuffle them around. Then, it’s your dog’s turn to sniff out the treat!

3. Towel Enrichment

If you’re wondering how to entertain your dog, all you really need is an old towel and some dry kibble. Lay the towel out flat and sprinkle some kibble or small treats at one end, then roll until those treats are hidden. Repeat this process of sprinkling treats and rolling until the towel forms a nice burrito. To make things extra challenging for Fido (and to keep your dog occupied longer), tie the towel into a knot.

To play, just hand off your towel creation to Fido and, with his nose as his guide, he’ll figure out how to get to the treats!

How to Entertain Your Dog: Take Them to Hounds Lounge

While there are plenty of grrreat ways to keep dogs entertained indoors, sometimes they just need fresh air and space to run. And sometimes, you just need your apartment to yourself! For those days, bring your dog to Doggy Daycare at Hounds Lounge! All of our locations have cage-free indoor and outdoor play yards supervised by our professionally-trained staff, 24/7. 

Hounds Lounge doggy daycare offers a healthy dose of physical as well as mental stimulation! Being around hoomans and other woofs all day is a recipe for a sleepy pooch. As we like to say at Hounds Lounge: Play hard. Nap harder!

Now that you know how to entertain your dog at home, apply the tactics above combined with regular doggy daycare attendance, and you and Fido can avoid cabin fever altogether. We look furrward to meeting you and your pooch at doggy daycare! Make a reservation now.

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