5 Indoor Activities for Dogs: Games to Stimulate & Entertain

by Sarah Seward-Langdon on October 25, 2022

5 Indoor Activities for Dogs: Games to Stimulate & Entertain

Written by: Sarah Seward-Langdon

Reviewed by: Amanda Nascimento, DVM, MSc, Ph.D

Published on: 10/25/2022

Whether you’re looking for a way to stay out of the rain or you’ve been injured and looking for an alternative to long walks, there are plenty of ways to stimulate your dog inside. Many pet owners are told that if dogs are having behaviour problems, it’s because they’re not getting enough physical exercise. However, this isn’t always the case!

Did you know that some indoor activities can help stimulate a dog akin to taking them on an hour walk? It isn’t always about how many steps your dog gets in every day. Although physical exercise is important, making sure your dog’s brain is stimulated is also important—and can help bring down the amount of physical work needed to tire them out.

If you’re trying to find an alternative to getting outside for a long stroll with your dog, whatever the reason, you’ve come to the right place. Browse through this quick blog to discover some of the best indoor activities for your dog to keep them happy and stimulated.

1. Food Puzzles, Lick Mats, and Similar

Have you browsed Amazon lately? If not, you’ll find plenty of options for food puzzles and food toys that will make your dog work before they can fill their belly!

Food puzzles are one of the most well-known ways to add stimulation into your dog’s daily routine. We’ve made a quick list of some of the best options that are easily accessible off of Amazon, or likely your local pet shop.

Kong Classic

When you think of food toys, 99% of pet owners think of Kong. The Classic version of this brand is what everyone knows—made of bouncy, durable plastic that dog’s can safely chew.

Whether you have a puppy or an adult dog, Kong has the classic-shaped chew toy for all types of chewers and ages of dog. If you have a puppy, grab the puppy version that is made from softer material. They even have an ultra-durable version, the Kong Extreme, for pet parents who have dogs that love to aggressively chew up all of their toys.

Kongs are great as just a toy, especially since they bounce off of hardwood floors in wacky ways that keep your dog on its toes! However, the best part of the Kong is that they are stuffable. Whether you decide to stuff in with Kong-specific products, or peanut butter, or even your pet’s dog food, your furry friend will be entertained trying to get every last bite out of their Kong.

Looking for a longer-lasting food toy? Try freezing it!

Safety Disclaimer: Make sure the size is suitable for the pet and the material is not toxic. Some pets can easily swallow toys or eat them.

West Paw’s “Toppl”

If you’re looking for a great alternative to Kong, look no further than West Paw. This company has lots of offerings for dogs and cats, but our favourite is definitely their food puzzle toy for dogs: Toppl.

These are great singular food dispensers; however, try getting two of different sizes and sticking them together to see if your dog can figure out how to get access. By adding the new size and structure, your dog will get even more stimulation while working for their food!

Just like the Kong, try freezing one or two Toppls for maximum doggy entertainment. We love using this to feed meals every now and then, instead of a bowl.

Lick Mat

Lick mats aren’t considered “toys”; they’re more like feeding instruments—like slow feeding bowls. Whether you consider them a bowl alternative or a food puzzle, lick mats are a great way to add a bit of spice into your dog’s day.

Some pet owners swap out a bowl for a lick mat during their dog’s regular meals occasionally. Others use lick mats as an extra treat in the middle of the day, especially if they’re working long hours and want their dog to get some excitement during the day.

Since licking is a very natural thing for dogs, your pet will feel better and get stimulation at the same time! Although there’s endless options to choose from, one of our favourite brands is Messy Mutts. Not only do they have great lick mats, they also offer a whole bunch of great gear for dogs who enjoy getting messy.

Outward Hound’s Dog Games

Feeling a need to explore and get a bit fancier? You should be browsing Outward Hound’s options of great dog treat-dispensing toys. These brain games are great to have for your dog if they need to stay indoors and will keep them busy while you get some work done or much needed sleep!

There are so many puzzle games, and each of them are categorized by a certain level. Once your dog finishes puzzles at level 1, move them up to more advanced games—all the way up to level 5! Talk about a great way to keep your dog busy.

DIY Options

There are lots of ways that you can make treat “toys” with things lying around your house. There are many variations and they’re easy enough to find on YouTube and follow step-by-step instructions.

One of the easiest ones needs to be the tied towel! This is basically what it sounds like. Grab an old towel (one you don’t mind getting dirty) and lay it down on the floor. Sprinkle treats around the towel unevenly with lots of spacing. Roll the towel on the long side and carefully take the two ends tying a loose knot.

Once you have your towel in a knot, leave it with your dog. You’d be surprised how adept your dog is at untying the towel and getting into those treats! You can do this multiple times and your dog is sure to be pleasantly tired.

2. Treadmill

This may sound strange, but have you ever considered training your dog to use a treadmill?

Training your dog to walk or jog on a treadmill is more common than you may think, and it’s an absolutely awesome way to exercise your dog while staying indoors. Once your dog gets the hang of it, both of you can say goodbye to being extra cold or soaking wet!

Most people think of dogs and treadmills when they think of dogs who need rehabilitation. However, treadmill walks can be useful in a number of situations. For example, a full body .

As great as this option is, remember that you must prepare and train your dog for this—and you workout without as much harmful impact, warming up working or sport dogs, or even giving a reactive dog exercise who isn’t ready to handle the outdoors yet [1] can’t rush it!

Safety Disclaimer: Not always suitable for pets with heart conditions. It is always a good idea to talk to a vet before starting this type of activity.

Here are some simple steps and tips when training your dog to use a treadmill [1]:

  • Use positive reinforcement to get your dog used to the treadmill; this can be treating for being around it or stepping on it
  • Never force your dog on equipment and make sure to repeat just giving them treats when they step onto the treadmill
  • When you turn the machine on, get them accustomed to the sounds before even trying movement
  • Once you start adding in movement, do it slowly and give out treats readily
  • Don’t rush bumping up the speed and work at your dog’s comfort level
  • Always hold the emergency stop string to help mitigate the dangers for your dog

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Canine


✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

3. Nose Work

Nose work is such an overlooked indoor activity! Not only does it give your dog great mental stimulation, but it also builds your dog’s confidence and makes them feel like they’re doing a job.

There are many different ways to practice nose work with your dog. The simplest way to start is probably to purchase a snuffle mat. If you haven’t heard of these, they’re just large mats with compartments or elements that allow you to hide treats for your dog. They entice dogs to use their natural instincts to sniff and forage.

Safety Disclaimer: Same as Kong toys, make sure that the size is suitable for your unique pet and that the material is not toxic. Some pets can easily swallow or eat it.

Another way to partake in nose work is to hide smelly treats or food around the house. When you’re first starting out you can hide your pet’s favourite treat while they’re still watching you. Try using the command “find it” or “seek” and keep practicing until they understand the concept.

If your dog is still getting used to nose work, remember to make it fun by making it easy at the start and giving them lots of praise. Once they seem to have the hang of it, gradually make it harder by hiding things better or increasing the amount of treats or toys you’re hiding.

4. Flirt Pole

So you thought that stick with a long string and something at the end was only enjoyed by cats? This fishing rod-like toy, specifically called a flirt pole, is enjoyed by a lot of dogs as well! And unless you have a big dog and a small space, most people have a large enough area to play with a flirt pole indoors.

You can easily find flirt poles online, or try and make one at home. Just make sure if you’re making a homemade version that it is durable enough for your specific pup!

Flirt poles provide great physical and mental stimulation for your dog; however, they can provide much more. Since you’re in control of the flirt pole it helps train dogs in things like impulse control, coordination, and when to release interesting objects.

5. Obedience Training

Obedience training is absolutely vital and a quick training session during the middle of the day can easily be made fun for your dog. Before you go into this one, you’ll need to do your research, gather the right tools, and have lots of treats!

If you want to train your dog for obedience yourself, remember to research training styles and pick one that you can get behind. This can often be the trickiest part! Just remember that you know your dog best and it’s okay to make mistakes.

Start by making sure your dog knows basic commands like sit, stay, and leave it. If they can do commands inside your house with little distraction, remember to practice when you’re outside and around more distractions as well. Obedience takes time and lots of positive reinforcement, so keep putting in that work and you’ll get there.

Most importantly, if you find yourself overwhelmed, reach out to a trainer! You aren’t any less of a pet parent for needing the help of professionals

Stay Warm Indoors This Season

We hope that these are helpful tips for avoiding the freezing cold or torrential downpour that winter can bring. If you’ve tried one activity, don’t be afraid to continue trying more and mixing it up.

Remember, a tired dog (both mentally and physically) is a happier dog! We hope you and your dog have all the indoor fun possible.

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Canine


✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Follow us!

About Sarah

Sarah is a marketing specialist with a passion for anything creative! Her openness to working across industries and job opportunities has allowed her to gain enormous amounts of experience in graphic design, video production, and written content creation. Animals have a special place in her heart as she grew up with cats and now owns her own Alaskan Malamute. She has spent the last couple of years in Vancouver working with different companies within the pet industry and gained valuable knowledge about the ins and outs of the (alternative) pet food industry, supplementation, and various training methods. When she’s not digitally creating content for pet lovers to consume, she’s out eating great food, dancing at drop-in classes, or exploring the beautiful Canadian scenery with her fur-child Miso.