Goldendoodle playing with a box

5 Fun Indoor Activities to do with Your Dog

Lyndsay Dog Training, Fun & Games Leave a Comment

Do you find that your dog gets less exercise when it is rainy outside? Do you worry he is not getting enough exercise but you also don’t want to spend an hour outside in the rain? Worry no longer! Next time it is a rainy day, try out one of these fun training games that will exercise both the mind and body of your dog. If the behaviours used in the games are new behaviours for your dog or it is the first time your dog has played these games it is best to practise with a clicker first. Once he becomes good at it you can continue only using verbal positive reinforcement and treats.

1)Hide & Go Seek

Goldendoodle looking for his toy in bed

This is one of my favourite games to play with my dog and I think he would agree it is one of his favourites too! You can play hiding yourself (like in the children’s game), his favourite toys, or even treats.

How it works:

You will need your dog’s favourite toys, treats, and a clicker

If you are planning to hide your dog’s toys and your dog doesn’t already know his toys by name practise playing fetch and getting him to bring a specific toy back to you. Reward him by doing so with a click and a treat and then eventually giving it a name and rewarding him for bringing the specific toy you have called. This way he will know his toys by name before playing hide and seek.

If your dog already knows his toys’ names then start at the beginning of the game.

If you are using treats or yourself (or another person) you can begin the game right away.

I usually play with hiding toys and then when he finds a toy I reward him with play. I find that this gives him the most exercise, keeps him busy the longest and overall he seems to enjoy the time he spends playing it with me.

The game is pretty simple, if you are hiding yourself then have him sit and stay. You hide while he stays. Then you have him come and find you by saying “(dog’s name) come”. When he finds you reward him with a treat, good boy or play for finding you. Repeat this for as long as you want.

If you are hiding treats have him sit and stay while you hide the treats around the house or apartment. You will then say “ok” to allow him to move out of sit and then tell him to go find his treats. Let him explore the house sniffing around until he finds all the treats you hid. Click and say “good boy” as he finds the treats. If your dog has never played this game before start off easy with some obvious locations so he can get used to relying on his sense of smell versus you giving him cues.

If you are hiding toys do the same as you would for treats but tell him to specifically find a certain toy. Reward him if he finds the right toy. I usually start off by only hiding the same toy (ie. Wubba) a few times so it is easier since only one specific toy (Wubba) is always hidden. Then you can progress to hiding different toys (ie. a Wubba, rope and football) in different places and asking him to find a specific one. Reward with a click and treat when he finds the correct toy.

What makes this a good training game?:

  • It practises and positively reinforces sit, stay, come and ok (release) cues.
  • It teaches your dog to rely on his sense of smell.
  • It teaches your dog to learn names for specific objects

Health Benefits:

  • It involves mental stimulation
  • Your dog is constantly moving around getting exercise trying to find you, treats, or toys.


How it works:

You will need a toy to fetch with, a clicker and treats

If your dog has never played fetch before then this is a good game to teach him how to play. If he has not played before I would take out a clicker to reinforce him for fetching and bringing back toys so he will learn to repeat these behaviours when you play with him outside as well.

Pick a toy that you can play catch with indoors (eg. a small ball, a stuffed toy you can throw far enough to get a good run in, a tug toy).

Get your dog’s attention to play fetch with the toy. Throw the toy. Most likely he will go retrieve it, if he does and you are clicker training, click when he runs for it and throw him a treat to reward him. Then you want him to bring it back. If he automatically does it great, click and reward him with a treat. If he doesn’t bring it back, say his name and ask him to “come” to you. If he does, click and reward with a treat. Now that he has brought it to you, you will want him to drop it so you can pick it up. If he drops it on his own click and say “good drop it”. If he tries to pick it up again before you grab it you also want to practise “leave it” to have him “leave it” as well. Continue to repeat throws, fetches,”come” “drop it” and “leave it”. You can reward with click and treats but eventually just rewarding with continuation of play will be enough to keep him repeating the behaviours.

You can also add “sits” and “stays” into the mix by having him sit and wait till you throw the toy and not retrieving it until you say “ok go get it”.

I also sometimes encourage him to go faster by saying “come come faster faster” I feel like that makes him get more excited and want to sprint faster to bring the toy to me. Keep in mind that it does take time for your dog to understand what you are asking of him so be patient, keep repeating and positively reinforcing and most important of all have fun with it!

What makes this a good training game?:

  • Positive reinforcement training with repetition for retrieving, coming back to you, dropping something, leaving something. sitting, and staying.

Health Benefits:

  • Depending how far you throw the toy and how big or small your dog is, this game can involve quite a bit of tiring sprints to fetch and bring back the toy.
  • Mental stimulation for your dog to understand what behaviour is being rewarded and repeating them as well as performing the behaviours on cue.

3) 101 Things to do with a Box

Goldendoodle playing with a box

How it works:

You will need a box, clicker and treats

This game focuses on the training method called “free shaping”.  You will be rewarding your dog for his natural behaviours. You will reward him with a treat for any behaviour that is associated with the box. There are no cues given from you just simply trial and error from your dog and a click and treat reward to tell your dog he is performing a behaviour you would like to see.

Prepare a box leaving one side open with flaps cut off or turned inside. Put the box on the floor near your dog. If he looks at it click and reward with a treat. If he doesn’t look at it throw a treat into the box and if he looks at the treat in the box click and reward him with a treat. Click anytime he looks at the box. If he only looks at the box but doesn’t attempt to move towards it throw a treat close to it and see if he moves towards it. If he does click and reward with a treat.

Wait until he does something new with the box ie. put a paw on it, put a foot in it, touch it with his nose but only when he does a new behaviour will you reward with a click and a treat, not a repeated behaviour. This will teach him to problem solve and try new things that may result in a treat. If he seems to become frustrated and fails to do new things have him do a behaviour he knows, like shake a paw, and jackpot him with lots of treat and end the game there.

Next time you play you can switch it up by thinking of a goal behaviour, eg. getting into the box. At first reward him for just looking at the box. Reward him a few times for this. Then only reward him for a new behaviour that brings him closer to the goal ie. paw on the box. Reward him for this a few times and then move on to only rewarding for another new behaviour that brings him closer to the goal ie. foot in the box. Only rewarding him for the new behaviour. Then jackpot him when he performs the goal behaviour “getting into the box”.

Have fun with it and feel free to quit anytime you think your dog has had enough. Make sure to always end to session with something positive, ie. a behaviour he masters like “sit” or “down” and give him lots of treats for that behaviour.

Experiment with different goal behaviours to earn him a jackpot, eg. flipping the box, putting it on his head, carrying the box in his mouth and so on.

What makes this a good training game?:

  • It is great because your dog is rewarded for behaviours he is learning on his own. This encourages him to problem solve, be creative and experiment with new behaviours in the chance he may be rewarded.
  • It is a good training game for working on memory. He has to remember what he has already tried so he knows to try something else to get a treat.
  • It is good for positively reinforcing many different behaviours
  • It is a great way to learn more difficult behaviours slowly, but effectively, by building up from other behaviours.
  • This can be applied to learning a new difficult skill by breaking it down into smaller steps, eg. laying on a mat

Health Benefits:

  • It involves lots of mental stimulation for your dog to be able to understand what behaviour he is being rewarded for and to come up with new behaviours to try.
  • It involves physical exercise since he is moving into lots of new positions each time.

4) Tug of War

goldendoodle and owner playing tug of war

How it works:

Grab a toy you can hold onto and your dog can tug to try to pull away. Play with your dog letting him chew the tug toy while you give it light tugs to try to pull it away while he is chewing on the other end. Introduce cues “leave it” so he lets go and if he listens let him tug on it again. You can also say “drop it” if he ends up pulling it out of your hands to have him practise that cue as well. Reward him with treats when he obeys your cues.

You can also combine this game with Fetch. Play Tug of War for a few minutes and then when you have your dog “drop it”and he “leaves it” you can throw it so he goes to fetch it. If he retrieves it and brings it back play some more Tug of War as a reward. Depending how “play motivated” your dog is, you may need to have him look at you after he leaves it so he doesn’t think that you picking up the toy means it is time to Tug of War again instead of fetch.

What makes this a good training game?:

  • It teaches him to allow you to play with his toys without being possessive over them
  • It teaches your dog that “leave it” doesn’t mean he was bad and play stops.
  • Practising and reinforcing “leave it” “drop it” “look at me” and “come” (if used as a cue to return toy back to you after a fetch)

Health Benefits:

  • If fetch is combined then it is good exercise because of the sprints to fetch the tug toy.
  • Mental stimulation
  • Physical exertion to grip onto the tug toy and prevent you from taking it

5) Put Toys Away

Goldendoodle putting his toys in toy box

How it works:

You need toys, a toy box (or any other place you want to designate as the area you want your dog to place all his toys in), a clicker and treats

Your dog must know how to fetch a toy before he can play this game.

Begin by playing fetch with your dog with a toy. You want to have the toy box in front of you so that when he brings the toy back he drops it into the box. If he drops it automatically click and reward him with a treat by throwing it into the box. If he doesn’t drop it then you can use the words “drop it” to have him drop it into the box. Click and reward. If he drops the toy anywhere outside of the box do not click and reward just keep playing fetch with him normally until he learns that when he drops the toy into the box he gets a treat.

Once he drops the toy in the box consistently for awhile you can move the box further away from you. Keep moving the box to different areas so you know he knows where he puts his toys. If he stops dropping them in the box you may have moved to the next step too fast.  Move the box back closer to you again until he gets it right every time, then you can move the box further away again.

Next you want to practice having him pick up the toy as it sits stationary beside the box, not after you have thrown it. He should hopefully know that if he picks up the toy and puts it into the box he will be rewarded with a click and a treat. If he doesn’t do it then throw the toy a short distance away and then try it stationary again.

Now you want to add a cue to your toy clean up. You can say “pick up toys”, “clean up”, “tidy up” whatever you want to use as your cue so your dog knows when he should be picking up and putting his toys into the toy box. Say the cue as your dog is dropping the toy into the box. Click and reward with a treat.

Once he masters these steps with one toy you want to teach him he is rewarded only after picking up all the toys. Put out two toys in front of the box. Wait from him to pick up one toy and drop it into the box. Do not reward him. See if he goes back looking for something else to be rewarded for, ie. picking up the second toy and putting it into the box. If he picks up the second toy and drops it into the box successfully reward him with a click and a treat. Repeat this slowly by adding new toys one at a time until you have him putting away all his toys.

If your dog doesn’t catch on to pick up the second, or other subsequent toys throw them slightly to see if that helps draw his attention to the toys. If your dog appears to be getting frustrated at all it is a good time to reward him for doing a trick he already masters, eg. shake a paw, and be done for now. You can play again later or another day.

What makes this a good training game?:

  • Shaping behaviour by starting with a new behaviour he has to try himself to be rewarded with a treat.
  • Repetition and positive reinforcement to encourage wanted behaviours.
  • It teaches him patience to wait and finish the entire task before having a treat.

Health Benefits:

  • Expends energy by physically picking up toys and putting them in the box
  • Mental stimulation to think what he needs to do to get rewarded with a treat
  • Other benefit: Gives him a job to do. Lots of dogs are breed to be work dogs and like having jobs to do. It also helps to prevent boredom which can lead to bad behaviours.

Now that you have learned some fun indoor activities to do with your dog don’t fret the rainy weather instead enjoy your time playing and bonding with your dog.





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