Fun Activities You Can Do With Your Dog At Home

When staying at home with your dog, it can be easy to start feeling guilty if all they do is lay on the couch all day. Fortunately, there are plenty of creative ways to pass the time with your beloved canine without even leaving home. From physical activities like partner workouts to mental ones like the muffin tin game, there are a variety of options to keep your pups happy in the house. Show them how much you care with some homemade treats and toys, or a nice doggy massage. Read on for more ways to make sure your dog has fun at home.

Play The Shell Game

A woman plays the shell game with her dog.
Kyra Sundance/YouTube
Kyra Sundance/YouTube

The shell game is one that many of us have probably played at one time or another, but may not have known what to call it. It involves placing an item under one of three cups and then shuffling the cups around to see if the person can keep their eye on the item-containing cup.

To play the game with your dog, simply place a treat under one of the cups and shuffle them around. Ask your dog to find the treat and watch as their impeccable sniffing unsolves the mystery.

Teach Your Dog The Name Of Things

A woman trains her dog on the floor in her room.
JenRegnier/Pixabay
JenRegnier/Pixabay

Dogs are used to working and they love tasks, so it’s important to keep them mentally stimulated. They probably already know a couple of words like “walk” and “treat,” but you can make a game out of teaching them to name things.

It may be easiest to start with one of their toys. Give the toy a name and say that word over and over while playing with the toy so that they make the association. You can test their knowledge by asking them to go get the toy. You can do the same thing with other items like “slipper” or “pillow.”

Build Your Dog An At-Home Obstacle Course

A woman guides her dog through an indoor obstacle course made with furniture.
Pup’s Place/YouTube
Pup’s Place/YouTube

Dogs love being challenged, and obstacle training can do just that! It’s a great way to combine physical and mental stimulation. There are plenty of DIY obstacle courses available on the internet, and you can make do with whatever you have around the house.

Line up dining room chairs and teach them how to weave between them, use a hula hoop to practice jumps, or cut out the bottom of a cardboard box then do some tunnel training.

Do A Workout With Your Dog

A man does chest presses with his two dogs in each hand.
Funny Everyday/YouTube
Funny Everyday/YouTube

Any dog owner who has worked out at home knows that dogs love to try to get in on the action. Rather than shooing them away while you work out, try incorporating them into your routine!

Small dogs can make for great dumbbell supplements while you’re doing arm curls or chest presses. Larger dogs can be trained to perform certain workouts with you, such as burpees. There are plenty of creative ways to make your dog feel included in your workout.

Blow Bubbles For Your Dog To Pop

A dog runs towards a bubble.
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

A fun and adorable activity for the whole family is blowing bubbles for your dog to pop. Watching a dog discover the joy of popping bubbles is hilarious, especially if they haven’t done it before.

You can expect your dog to race toward a bubble like it’s a ball or try to eat it, and then look around in sheer surprise when they realize it’s suddenly gone. Kids get a kick out of playing along with the dog, too.

Play Hide-And-Go-Seek

A woman hides behind her bedroom door while her dog looks for her.
UNILAD/YouTube
UNILAD/YouTube

Playing hide-and-go-seek with your dog can be surprisingly entertaining for both you and the pooch. Go hide somewhere simple like in a closet with the door cracked open, behind a door, or under a desk with the chair tucked in.

Either command your dog to stay while you’re hiding or have someone else keep them distracted. When you’re ready, call their name and then stay silent. You may be amazed at how many times they race past you without noticing!

Play Hide-And-Go-Treat

A dog sniffs around the yard looking for a treat.
Bkalos/YouTube
Bkalos/YouTube

It’s no secret that dogs love treats, but they might be sick of performing tricks all day long. To mix it up a little, hide the treats around the house and have the dog go find them. Their sniffing skills should lead them to all the treats before long.

One great thing about this game is it’s a way to offer them a treat without a trick, but still maintains that treats have to be earned. In this case, the dog is rewarded with the treat only after they do the work of finding it.

Teach Your Dog To Talk

A dog presses a button on a soundboard to communicate to its owner.
hungerforwords/YouTube
hungerforwords/YouTube

While dogs can sometimes make noises that resemble words, for the most part, they are unable to speak like humans. Speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger proves that they can communicate with the right tools, though.

All you need is are some recordable buttons. Record a word like “potty” and then hit it each time you go out to relieve your dog. Once they’ve made the association, they can learn to hit the button themselves to tell you when they need to go. Check out one of Christina’s videos on YouTube to see her dog, Stella, delivering full sentences!

Have Your Dog Guess Which Hand

A girl holds out both fists while her dog guesses which hand by pawing it.
Logan The Adventure Dog/YouTube
Logan The Adventure Dog/YouTube

Another activity you can do to keep your dog’s mind sharp is the “guess which hand” game. Simply place a treat in one hand in a discreet way so your dog doesn’t see which one it is.

Hold out both of your closed fists to see if the dog’s attention gravitates towards the right one. If your pooch starts licking, sniffing, or pawing the empty hand, open it up to show that the treat isn’t in there and then encourage them to try again.

Play Tug-Of-War

A little boy plays tug-of-war with his German Shepherd in the house.
SuperpowerDogs/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
SuperpowerDogs/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Many dogs love tug-of-war, and experts at the American Kennel Club have debunked the myth that playing the game increases their aggression and dominance. While dogs who are more aggressive or tend to get overly stimulated are less suited to play the game, playing tug-of-war will not turn a dog into an aggressive one.

With proper rule setting, the game promotes bonding and is a form of exercise that can be done in small spaces. AKC recommends using a soft toy only, being gentle when playing with puppies, and always letting the dog win to build their confidence.

Teach Them Some New Tricks

A dog balances a can on its head.
Dinesh Gupta/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Dinesh Gupta/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The saying “you can’t teach a dog new tricks” isn’t necessarily true. Whether you have a young pup or an older dog, many canines are eager to please their owner and love the mental challenge of following orders.

If doing the same old tricks has become so routine that it’s no longer a challenge for your dog, try teaching them something new! It’s always exciting when your dog nails a new move, and the process of getting there will give you both some quality time together.

Have A Trick Refresher

A man instructs his dog to stand on its hind legs.
Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There are some commands like “stay” that dog owners use often. But then there are tricks that are just for fun that owners may forget to practice with their dog for extended amounts of time, such as “roll over.”

If it’s been a while since you had an extensive trick session with your dog, it may be fun to revisit some of those old commands. Take some time to see how well they remember all the tricks you’ve ever shown them.

Teach Your Dog To Go To Spots Around The House

A dog lies on a bed.
Jeff Klugiewicz/Pixabay
Jeff Klugiewicz/Pixabay

Teaching your dog to “stay” is one thing, but getting them to go somewhere and then stay is a whole new level of obedience. Practice having them go to the couch, go to bed, or go to different rooms in the house.

Doing so not only increases their vocabulary, but can also come in handy when you’re trying to get something done. For instance, while cooking or eating you can tell them to “go to bed” to discourage them from begging.

Make Them Some New Toys

A dog lays over its toys.
skeeze/Pixabay
skeeze/Pixabay

Many animal lovers adore spoiling their dogs, but doing so doesn’t have to come at a price. There are plenty of DIY options for making dog toys out of things like old towels and dried foods.

Cut up some old t-shirts and braid them for a toss toy, make a slingshot out of a hanger for a twist on fetch, or make a treat puzzle out of a cleaned-out butter dish. The options are endless and a great way to add some spice to your dog’s life.

Teach Your Dog To Retrieve Items

A dog carries its leash in its mouth.
Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

We already suggested teaching your dog the names of their toys so they can pick out one, but why not do this with household items too? You can teach your dog to grab a variety of things to make your life a little easier and give them a task.

A good place to start may be to teach them to grab their leash since it’s something they’re already familiar with. Doing so will also give them something to do so they aren’t eagerly pacing while you get your shoes on.

Give Them A Thorough Grooming

People give a dog a bath.
Kirill KukhmarTASS via Getty Images
Kirill KukhmarTASS via Getty Images

Dogs don’t need to bathe nearly as often as humans do. So when it is time for a good grooming, why not go all out? Some dogs are more tolerant of grooming than others, so judge how much time you take by your dog’s temperament.

Scrub them down, blowdry and comb their fur, brush their teeth, and trim their nails with a proper device. If the dog is reluctant or antsy, treats can make the process much more enjoyable.

Play The Muffin Tin Game

A dog tries to get tennis balls out of a muffin tin.
coldnosecollege/YouTube
coldnosecollege/YouTube

The muffin tin game is a simple but challenging activity that encourages your dog to work for its treats. All you need is a muffin tin and some tennis balls. Lay the tin on the ground and have your dog watch as you place a treat in each compartment.

Then place each tennis ball over the treats. Once everything is set, instruct your dog to find the treats. Getting the tennis balls out can be a little difficult for them as first, so hold the tray still to help them out.

Make Some Homemade Dog Treats

An owner feeds their dog a treat.
Omerlavon/Pixabay
Omerlavon/Pixabay

Baking your dog their own treats can be a healthier alternative to buying them at the store. Plus, your pooch will be thrilled to see that the thing you spent time preparing is all for them!

There are plenty of dog treat recipes online that use ingredients you may already have around the house, such as canned tuna, flour, cheese, peanut butter, and more. Preparation often involves baking, so your dog will likely be excited by the aroma and eager to try their specially-made treats.

Give Them A Doggy Massage

A woman gives a dog a massage.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There’s arguably no better way to step up your petting game than to learn how to give your dog a massage. If you thought they were in heaven with belly rubs, just wait until you see how deeply relaxed a massage can make them.

Especially after a day full of physical and mental hard work, your dog will ease into a massage in no time. If you have multiple people in your household, you can even do a massage train so everyone benefits at the same time.

Play Fetch With A Soft Toy

A dog holds a toy in its mouth in the backyard.
StockSnap/Pixabay
StockSnap/Pixabay

If you have a large area outside, then playing fetch with a bouncy ball is probably no problem. However, if you have little to no outdoor space, you may want to use a soft toy so it won’t bounce over the fence or knock things down.

Playing fetch with a soft toy can also be ton inside the home since its a much more controlled game than one with a bouncy/hard ball. It’s a great way to keep your dog moving and agile.