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  • Keeping your dog mentally and physically stimulated while stuck indoors is important.
  • Training games, toys, and treats are all useful ways to keep your dog entertained in your home.
  • Dog sports like scent work or agility offer great options for exercising your dog indoors.

Even when you and your dog find yourselves stuck inside the house, there are plenty of options to keep dogs and owners active. Dogs still need exercise, no matter what’s keeping them cooped up indoors, which means owners have to get creative to keep their pups and themselves from going stir crazy.

Play Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is an easy indoor game that doesn’t require any special equipment. Practice your dog’s “sit” and “stay” commands, go hide, then call your dog. This is an especially good indoor option if you also have kids that you need to wear out as well!

Learn Scent Work

You don’t even need a scenthound for this one. AKC Scent Work is something that any dog can do. The ultimate goal is for your dog to be able to sniff out certain essential oils. However, many trainers or classes will start with treats before progressing. Scent Work is also something you can easily indoors with your dog.

Start by offering your dog two boxes, one with a treat and one without. Depending on how resourceful your dog is, you might leave the box open at the top. Gradually make it more challenging by flipping the box over, so your dog must figure out how to get the treat out. Eventually, progress to more boxes and more difficult routes to find the box. This is a great indoor activity because the dog rewards themselves when they find the box with the treat.

Turn an Old T-Shirt Into a Toy

Old t-shirts can be made into a variety of toys for dogs. Cut the shirt into strips and braid it, knot it or tie it any way you’d like. If your dog isn’t all that interested in chewing on the toy, weave in a few treats, or purchase your own snuffle mat if you don’t feel like DIY.

Stuff a Kong

You may already have a Kong or similar-shaped toy sitting around the house. Make it more interesting by stuffing it with peanut butter and a couple of biscuits. Or, freeze the peanut butter before giving it to your dog. Canned pumpkin and Greek yogurt make for other tasty fillers. Another idea is to put your dog’s meal in the Kong and seal it with peanut butter, to make them work a little harder (and use some brainpower!) for breakfast or dinner.

Go For a Swim Indoors

If your dog loves swimming, the fun doesn’t have to end just because summer is over. There are more and more spots popping up that offer swim time for dogs. Some doggie daycares also have pools indoors. These may allow your dog to socialize and get in their favorite exercise at the same time. If your water-obsessed dog also shows an affinity for retrieving, consider dock diving, an exciting dog sport with indoor facilities available across the country.

Improve Obedience Skills

If your dog has the basic obedience commands down, enroll them in an intermediate or advanced class to teach them something new. Dogs of any age can benefit from focusing in a group setting and working with their owners.

If your dog has basic commands down, the Canine Good Citizen™ (CGC) program is the next step. This ten-skill program is open to all dogs. CGC is a great way to strengthen your bond with your dog while teaching them how to behave in public.

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy is a good option for teaching puppies foundational skills to prepare them for the CGC test once they are ready.

Jump Into Agility

Agility is a fun way for you to get some exercise, too, as it involves both the dog and the handler navigating a series of obstacle courses. Obstacles typically include things like tunnels, jumps, an A-frame, weave poles, and a seesaw.

Alaskan Klee Kai Kaiser Agility Jump

Agility is open to all dogs, whether purebred or mixed breed and classes are divided by jump height. That means any dog from the smallest Chihuahua to the biggest Great Dane can participate and become champions.

Channel Critter Hunting Skills

Barn Hunt is one of the more unique AKC dog sports, testing a dog’s ability to locate vermin in a maze of straw or hay bales. Barn Hunt is a simulated hunt meant to measure a dog’s nose, footwork, and ability to work with its owner, among other things.

The AKC is here to help owners with questions and concerns about COVID-19 and dogs. Find answers to your questions, plus at-home activity ideas, training tips, educational resources, and more on our Coping With COVID-19 hub.