12 Games for Dogs to Keep Your Pup Entertained and Healthy

  • From ApartmentGuide
  • We have 12 games you can try playing with your dog
  • Stuck indoors? Try out the indoor games and puzzles
  • Looking to get some exercise in the yard? We’ve included outdoor activities as well

Similar to humans, dogs need their exercise to stay healthy. While walking your dog can be a good way to release energy, sometimes you don’t have the time or space to go on a long walk. In these situations, use these games for dogs to tire your pup out.

Whether it’s a sunny day and you can spend time in the yard or you’re confined to your small apartment, we have a variety of games for your pup. When playing, be sure to consider your dog’s size and age. Bigger dogs tend to have more energy and might need longer games. Small dogs may tire more easily. When considering age, older dogs are more prone to hurting themselves. This means you may want to choose games that are easier on their joints.

No matter your dog’s breed, size or age, we have twelve games for dogs to keep them healthy and happy.

DIY puzzles for dogs

You’ve found the perfect pet-friendly apartment and now you need games to entertain your dog throughout the day. Luckily there are plenty of indoor puzzles for dogs that you can try out in the comfort of your home.

graphic showing dog doing a scent experiment

1. Scent experiment

Try out a scent experiment with your dog to test its snout. This can be played in a variety of ways. In the most basic version, you’ll hide a treat somewhere and have them find it.

Muffin tray tennis ball game

For this activity, you’ll need a muffin tray, four tennis balls and treats.

  • Step 1: Start by having your dog sit. Place a few treats in different cups of the muffin tray as they wait patiently.
  • Step 2: Instruct them to find the treats.
  • Step 3: Now that they are familiar with the game, repeat step one but this time put tennis balls over the treats.
  • Step 4: Instruct your dog to find the treats. See if they can sniff them out and figure out how to move the tennis balls out of the way to retrieve them.
  • Step 5: As your dog gets better at sniffing out the treats, set up some decoy tennis balls with no treats under them.

This game can last as long as you’d like it to. For variety, try changing which treats you are using or use a more difficult treat to gobble up like peanut butter.

graphic showing dog with treat dispenser

2. Treat dispenser fun

Give your dog a treat puzzle to figure out. You can either buy a treat dispenser like the popular Kong toys or make your own.

How to DIY a dog treat dispenser

For this project, you’ll need a water bottle, dog treats and a drill.

  • Step 1: Wash the bottle so that it’s clean and remove any labels.
  • Step 2: Drill a hole in the side of the bottle. The size of the hole will depend on the size of your treats. The hole should be a little smaller than your treats so they don’t easily fall out.
  • Step 3: Put the treats in the bottle and screw on the top.
  • Step 4: Give the treat dispenser to your dog and see how long it takes them to solve the puzzle.

Be sure you are supervising your pup when they play with this toy. If they manage to chew off the lid or tear through the plastic, you’ll want to take it away.

Active indoor games for dogs

Just because you are confined to your apartment, doesn’t mean your dog can’t release some energy. Try out one of these active indoor games to keep from going stir crazy.

graphic of dog playing hide and seek

3. Hide and seek

A fun indoor game to play with your dog is hide and seek. Have your pup sit and stay. Then go hide somewhere in the house. When you are hidden, tell them to come. When they find you, reward them with a treat.

graphic of dog racing up the stairs

4. Stairway race

Release some energy by having an indoor race with your dog. This is best for homes that have carpeted stairways to prevent any injuries. Have someone say, “On your marks, get set, go!” Race up the stairs and see who can make it to the top first. Have everyone in the family race in different heats to determine who is the champion.

Training challenges to try with your dog

While you might have taken a training class when your dog was a puppy, you may not have kept up with teaching them as they grew. Test their mental strength by practicing new skills and learning agility.

graphic showing hand signals for training dogs

5. Practice skills

Test your dog’s memory and obedience by teaching them some basic skills. These can include sit, stay, shake and roll over. Skills are good for a dog of any age to practice. Use their favorite treat as an incentive. Be sure to only reward them if they are successful in completing the action.

If your canine has already mastered these basics, try some more advanced skills. Some advanced dog skills include:

  • Play dead
  • Crawl
  • Kiss
  • Hug
  • Spin
  • Sit pretty
  • Bow
  • Leash

Practicing these skills will create a deeper bond between you and your pup as well as lead to them being more obedient.

graphic showing an indoor agility course

6. Create an indoor agility course

If you are practicing agility with your dog, you can make an agility course with basic home furniture. Learning agility can help solve dog behavior problems, improve their off-leash reliability, build your bond and gain some skills you can show off.

Make a scorecard and see how your pup would fare in a real competition. To learn more about agility, check out the American Kennel Club scoring guide.

Homemade dog agility course

Create your own agility course at home to learn these skills.

  • Weave: Set up laundry baskets in a row. Have your dog practice weaving in and out of them.
  • Jump up: Have them jump up on a chair or your bed. Practice with different heights.
  • Jump through: Hold up a hula hoop and have them jump through.
  • Under: Practice going under a few chairs that are lined up in a row.
  • Crawl: Get a box and open the ends. Have your dog practice crawling through.
  • Over: Rest a pole or broom over two stools. Work on their ability to jump over the pole.

infographic of games for dogs

Additional classic games for dogs

These are the games that your dog knows and loves. When you’re at a loss for what to play, try one of these classic games for dogs.

7. Clean up

If you have toys scattered throughout your apartment, clean up is the game for you. A game of clean up will entertain your pup as well as get rid of some of the clutter in your home.

Have them pick up one of their toys and lead them to the toy bin. When their head is over the bin, instruct them to “drop it.” Praise them with words or treats. This process may take a little longer for them to understand so be patient as they are learning. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a tidy space.

8. Fetch

Fetch is a classic for a reason. This game may seem repetitive to you, but to your dog, it’s endless entertainment. To play, throw a ball of some sort. Typically tennis balls work best because they fit in your dog’s mouth, can be thrown far distances and their color is easy to spot. Your dog will chase after it and return the ball, panting and ready for more.

Many play fetch with sticks they find in the backyard, but this can be dangerous. The stick can easily break down when chewed and the splinters can be harmful to your dog’s mouth or stomach. Be sure you are using soft, pet-safe toys when playing fetch.

photo showing dog with frisbee

9. Frisbee

Another crowd favorite is a frisbee. Frisbee is similar to fetch, but oftentimes your dog is content playing with it alone for hours. Since frisbees have rounded sides, they often roll away. This turns into a game of chase and then a wild battle until your pup comes out of it victorious.

There are two types of frisbees you can purchase. The classic plastic kind is durable, but be sure to keep an eye on how it’s holding up. Sharp teeth can cause the plastic to crack, making it dangerous for dogs to play with and humans to throw. Another option is to get a softer, cloth frisbee. These are good for dogs with more sensitive gums like puppies who are teething.

10. Water games

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than cooling off with some water games. Get sprinklers and attach them to the hose in your yard. Be sure you’re using a garden hose that is lead-free. If it’s been sitting out in the sun, run it for a little bit to clear out any bacteria that may have formed.

Set up the sprinkler in an area of your yard that needs some hydration. Turn it on and encourage your dog to jump over it with you. For more dynamic entertainment, get an oscillating sprinkler so your dog can chase it back and forth.

11. Soccer

A game for the whole family, soccer can be an excellent way to release some energy. Get a soccer ball and be sure it’s fully inflated. If a dog’s sharp teeth puncture it, your match will be over.

Familiarize your dog with the ball. Reward them with treats when they push it with their nose. Once they are comfortable with the new toy, try playing pass. Lightly kick the ball towards them and see if they can return it to you. Another option is to set up a goal (could be two sticks that serve as goal markers) and have your dog play defense.

photo showing tug of war

12. Tug of war

Your dog may naturally try to play tug of war with you with something you’re holding. To be sure they don’t destroy your couch pillow or shoelaces it’s important to give them an item they are allowed to play with. Create a tug of war toy with some natural cotton rope. Tie knots in the rope so your pet has something to grab onto.

Many pet parents are worried that this type of game will bring out aggression in their dog. To avoid this, be sure you are playing on your terms. Keep the toy stored out of reach and bring it out when you want to play. When playing, be sure that your dog never touches you. If they do, the game is temporarily over. This will teach them boundaries. In addition to learning these boundaries, they should know how to “drop it” when instructed to. If they haven’t learned this command, it’s a skill you should work on.

Spending quality time with your dog

Partaking in these games for dogs will create a stronger bond between you and your four-legged friend. Be sure to add these skills to your dog’s pet resume when moving to a new apartment.

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One Response to “12 Games for Dogs to Keep Your Pup Entertained and Healthy”

  1. Rameen Shah says:

    These games are good for dogs (Stairway race, Frisbee). But Tug of war Is more likely to play by dogs.

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