Indoor Games for People and Dogs

Get ideas for games to play with your dog when ugly weather keeps you indoors.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
4-minute read
Episode #16

Sometimes it rains for days on end. Sometimes there’s a blizzard or a plague of frogs. In this week’s episode, I’ll suggest a few games to keep your dog from going stir-crazy when the weather traps you both indoors.

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The Find It Game

The easiest doggy game of all may be “Find It” -- you can’t go wrong when sniffing and food are involved. Show your dog a piece of dry food or a tiny treat. Say “Find it!” and toss the food on the ground. If your dog doesn’t quite get the idea of hunting outside the bowl, start her off by dropping the treat right in front of her. Then at each repetition, toss it farther and farther away. You can feed your dog entire meals by playing Find It; for some reason, dogs rarely seem to get bored when looking for food. Make the game more challenging by asking your dog to stay while you hide the treat behind a piece of furniture or in another room. Come back, release your dog from the stay, and wish her happy hunting. I do not suggest using the couch cushions as a hiding place.

Hide and Seek

The hidden item in “Find It” can be a person, too, which turns the game into hide-and-seek. This is easiest to teach with two human players -- one to go hide, the other to stay with the dog and encourage him to find the one who’s hiding. The person hiding can make a big fuss over the dog once she’s found -- give the old praise-and-scritch, throw a treat or toy, or play a quick round of tug.

The Muffin Tin Game

Amy Samida, of the Naughty Dog Café, in Ann Arbor, told me about the “Muffin Tin Game.” Amy found it online and we’d both love to hear from its inventor, so we can sing his or her praises.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).