by Melody Keilig

If you live in a cold winter climate, taking your dog outside for a day of play might be more challenging with the snow piling up. Even though they love frolicking through the cold fluff, it’s a great idea to have games to play indoors when the weather outside is too frightful. 

Check out these fun and interactive games to play inside to warm up. Then, check out a few outdoor games for you and your dog to enjoy outside when it’s not below freezing!

1. Hide & Seek 

Get ready to play the classic “hide & seek” game that will bring you back to your childhood, except now it’s your dog on a mission to find you. Entice your dog with a treat and command them to “stay” while you find a hiding spot. When you’ve successfully hidden, call your dog’s name and see if they can find you! If they do, reward with a treat and lots of praise. If your hiding spot was too good to be true, reveal yourself to your dog and reward them anyway.

2. The Shell Game

If your dog is clever and a little mischievous, this is the perfect game to play! This game involves three cups (or bowls) and one treat. Put the cups on a clean surface, such as a table, desk, or even the floor. 

Show your dog a treat and put it under one of the cups. Make sure your dog is paying close attention! Slowly slide the three cups, two at a time, to make finding the treat a challenge for your dog. When you think that the cups are mixed up enough, stop shuffling and encourage your dog to pick the cup with the hidden treat underneath. Whether they guess correctly or not, reward them with the treat and keep playing until they master the game. 

3. Tug of War

Here’s a fun game that will teach your dog the release command and build up their strength. Of course, the perfect object to use for this game is a short rope, but a dog toy can suffice. The best toys to use are ones made of rubber and have a handle or two for easy gripping. 

The rest is easy: give your dog one end of the toy or rope and start tugging away! When one side starts giving in, test your dog with the “release” or “drop it” command. 

4. Indoor Obstacle Course

Stuck inside indefinitely due to a raging blizzard? Spend the day building an obstacle course for your dog! 

Building a course is easy because you already have all of the needed supplies around your home or apartment. Simply drape a blanket over two rows of chairs stacked back-to-back and you’ve got a dog tunnel. Entice your dog with a treat as they walk or sprint through it! 

Want to test your dog’s speed? Place objects like shoeboxes, chairs, or empty food containers in a zig-zag pattern on the floor. Show your dog the pattern and lead the way with a treat. If they get the hang out of it quickly, time how fast they run through the course! 

5. Flirt Pole

A flirt pole is a perfect way to get your dog moving indoors! It’s a long, flexible stick with a string attached at the end. A toy is tied at the bottom of the string to encourage your dog to play while giving them a cardiovascular workout and building up their muscles. 

Simply flick the pole with the toy dangling in the air within a jumping distance that your dog can reach. This game isn’t to tease them, but to entice them to catch the toy. When they catch the toy, command them to “release” or “drop it.” Repeat the game until your dog is pooped out! 

6. Digging Box Game “Hide the Toy”

If your dog can’t go a day without digging, bring it indoors with less of a mess! Simply get a large box (maybe a leftover Amazon Prime package!) and place a treat at the bottom. Cover the treat with soft toys and encourage your dog to dig for it! 

7. Dog Puzzles

There are several ways you can make an easy DIY puzzle for your dog to enjoy! One of the simplest (and fastest) puzzles to make is with a tennis ball. Carefully cut a short line in the ball, enough to fit your dog’s favorite treats in. Then, give them the ball and encourage them to figure out how to get their treats back! 

Another easy puzzle to make in a pinch requires a muffin tin, tennis balls (or small toys), and treats. Place treats in a few muffin tin slots and place the balls or toys in each of the slots. Watch your dog figure out which slots contain the treats! 

8. Fetch (up and down the stairs!)

This indoor game of fetch is as simple as it sounds! If you have stairs in your home, toss a toy or a ball up and down the stairs for your dog to fetch. Alternate between tossing it from the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent boredom. 

9. “Come Home!” 

If your dog needs practice with the “Come!” command, this game is the perfect training opportunity. Set up a room in your home or apartment to act as “Home.” Show your dog this room and repeatedly say “Home” to them. Walk throughout your living space and surprise your dog with the “Home!” command. Watch and see if they will understand and run to the room designated as “Home.” If they need guidance, lead them to the room and repeat the command. 

10. Skijoring

When the harsh wind blows its course and you’re left with a beautiful winter wonderland, it’s time to try a new outdoor dog game! Check out Skijoring, which is simply a version of skiing with your dog on a leash ahead of you. Although this is considered a professional sport in some circles, have fun with it and test your dog’s leading abilities. 

11. Fetch in the snow

Unlike a game of fetch played in the other seasons, playing fetch in the snow brings a challenge to your dog. Depending on how deep the snow is, toys and other fetch items like balls and bones are bound to get temporarily lost. Test your dog’s sniffing abilities to see if they can find their toy again. After all, you don’t want to lose it until the spring! 

12. Scent Tracking

Want to teach your dog how to track human footsteps? Start this process by walking in the snow, leaving heavy footsteps behind you. Then, take your dog’s treats and place a few in each footstep. Your dog may think you’re teaching them how to track treats, but once they understand the pattern of human footprints, you can replace their treats with scented objects. Place a pair of your dirty socks and an old t-shirt in the footprints and direct your dog to sniff for the scent and track the steps. 

There you have it! Plenty of ways to beat winter boredom while keeping your dog busy. Plan a playing routine so you and your dog can get the most out of these fun activities while working off those Christmas cookies. 

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