Member APDT, Pet Professional Guild and SHRM

Indoor Winter Activities

A yellow labrador puppy looking up at a person.

If you live in a cold winter climate like I do and don’t particularly like to be in the cold for a long time, it can be even more challenging to keep your dog entertained. However, many indoor activities help prevent boredom and give your dog physical and mental stimulation.

Physical Activities:

Fetch – throw the ball or toy for your dog. Be careful of furniture and fragile items in your home.

Play Date – have a friend or neighbor bring their dog over so they can keep each other occupied with play.

Agility Course – set up a small tunnel or poles and teach your dog to navigate those items with treats. They will be running through those quickly in no time!

Treadmill – have your dog walk on the treadmill at a safe speed. Only under supervision!

Bones – as a special treat, give your dog a raw bone to chew. These don’t splinter like cooked bones do.

Mental Activities:

Snuffle Mat/Lick Mat – hide treats inside this mat. Your dog will enjoy sniffing out those treats. Or, put peanut butter on a lick mat for your dog to enjoy. Frozen will take even longer.

Muffin Tin – place a tennis ball in each cup with a treat hidden under most or all of them and let your dog find the treats.

Rug Exercise – roll up a mat with treats inside and let your dog use his nose to unroll the mat to find those treats.

Food Puzzles – you can purchase many food puzzles online and at stores including Kongs, slow feeders, and other puzzles that can give your dog a wonderful outlet. You can use these for their regular meals as well.

Containers – place several containers on the floor upside down and hide a treat under one of them. Lift each container as your dog touches it with his nose until he finds the right one!

Car Rides – does your dog enjoy the car? Here is an opportunity for both of you to get out of the house. Bonus: your dog can be socialized by taking in sights and sounds while doing something he enjoys.

Physical and Mental Activities:

Flirt Pole – this toy looks like a fishing pole with a toy tied on the end. You can move it around and your dog can enjoy a game of chase.

Scent Work – hide treats in a box and hide the box so your dog uses his nose to find it. Start by making it easy and then more challenging as your dog gets better at it.

Tricks – there are many tricks you can teach your dog such as paw, rollover, weaving, bowing, playing dead, and spinning. The possibilities are endless!

Training – revisit those commands you learned during previous training or focus on new ones. Many commands can be reinforced with fun activities. “Coming when called” can be reinforced with a game of hide and seek. Or practice “wait” and “come” by setting up objects that your dog must pass by (and ignore) to get to you. Practice loose leashing walking and “leave it” by placing objects on the ground that your dog must ignore to keep up the pace with you.

There are many indoor activities that you can enjoy with your dog during the cold months that can provide mental and physical stimulation. And, as they say, “A tired dog is a good dog!”