Inside dogs in winter: Indoor activities for dogs in winter

When the winter months get cold, and autumn's flame has blown out, it can be hard to decide on what to do with your beloved doggo. Still, you have to do something – right?

When it's cold outside, you might want a few indoor games to play with your dog.
When it's cold outside, you might want a few indoor games to play with your dog.  © Unsplash/Jesper Brouwers

Walking your dog in winter can be a difficult, unpleasant, and arduous process, and nearly impossible to avoid. What you can steer your way around, however, are the outdoor games that you like to play when on those walks!

Instead of spending hours out in the cold, make your walks short and swift, and take your doggo home for a few indoor games instead.

Keeping your dog inside for games, though, can be difficult in its own right. Fetch isn't going to work, and all the dog guides in the world couldn't make indoor catch a good idea, so what are the best indoor activities for dogs in winter?

How to keep dogs warm in winter

When a dog gets cold, it can face challenges to its health and well-being that should be avoided. As such, winter is a particularly difficult time for all canines and owners alike, especially if you are living in an area prone to snow, ice, and extreme sub-freezing temperatures.

The risks associated with cold weather are too numerous to count, including more extreme afflictions like hypothermia and even frostbite as well as less severe dangers like broken limbs and painful joints. This is true in both humans and dogs. With dogs having far less sophisticated and powerful immune systems, however, the risks can be significantly higher.

As a result, when you don't have the option to keep your dog inside – for example, when you have to take it for a walk – there are a number of measures that should be taken to keep your dog warm, happy, comfortable, and safe. And don't worry, it's not going to break the bank!

Five ways to keep your dog warm in winter

Avoid long walks: Walking your dog in winter can be a risky thing to do, but it's also something that is consistently necessary even in the colder months. What you should do, however, is take your dog on more regular but shorter walks throughout the day.

Warm clothing: There are many different kinds of doggy clothing available on the market right now. Many of them are specifically designed to keep your dog warm even in the coldest of months. Get your dog a jacket, boots, socks, and more just to be on the safe side!

Be prepared: Make sure that you have a dog winter safety kit with you including a blanket, extra warm clothing, the phone number of your veterinarian, extra food, water, and anything else you may need in the snow.

Extra caution: Do not let your dog out of your sight when walking in the middle of winter. Be extremely careful, keeping them away from deep snow and potential dangers like frozen lakes and the like. Exercise general common sense.

Stay dry: The biggest danger of cold weather is when it is wet or there is significant snow on the ground. If your doggo gets wet, it will get cold much faster and could be in a significant amount of danger.

As a result of the many problems associated with cold weather, it is better to focus on indoor activities with your dog during the winter months.

How to stimulate your dog indoors

When your dog has to stay inside most of the day, it will quickly get restless and unhappy. On top of that, doggos won't get the mental stimuli they crave when their entire life revolves around sleeping, eating, pooping, and chilling with their humans. Sure, it might be nice for a while, but it's not good for them in the long run!

As a result, one of the most important things to do is to get them playing games and completing indoor dog activities that stimulate them mentally and keep their bodies healthy by using their energy up.

Indoor dog tricks can keep your pup happy, busy, and entertained.
Indoor dog tricks can keep your pup happy, busy, and entertained.  © Unsplash/Petr Magera

Dog tricks

There are many dog tricks that can be taught inside or outside, and it doesn't really make any difference where the teaching happens. If you want your dog to learn words and commands, for example, winter is the perfect time to practice those. In addition, various puzzle games and tricks that aren't too energetic are always an option during cold months when you need an indoor activity.

Here are a few cool dog tricks to teach your dog inside during winter:

Dog tricks are a great way to get through the winter, and there are many more than we have listed. Get creative and let your dogs' talents shine!


There are few animals in the world that enjoy sniffing more than your darling doggo.
There are few animals in the world that enjoy sniffing more than your darling doggo.  © Unsplash/Will

Get your dog a sniffer rug, which can then be adorned with hard-to-find treats. If you do this, it will give your doggo something to look for, exercising its sense of smell, its movement skills, and keeping it busy. You can get them from most pet stores, and they are relatively inexpensive -–just be careful not to give them too many treats, as you don't want a weight problem to follow.

Sniffing games come in many forms, though, so feel free to talk with your vet or local pet store owner for advice on various games that you can play with your beloved doggo.

These games will keep them busy and happy as well as make sure that they don't lose any of their smelling abilities when unable to go outside.

Important: Remember to keep your dog's diet in mind, as you don't want your dog putting on winter chub just because you have given it too many snacks.

Hide and seek

Hiding dog toys and having your perfect pooch seek them out is a great game to play together.
Hiding dog toys and having your perfect pooch seek them out is a great game to play together.  © Unsplash/Caspar Camille Rubin

Hide and seek is not just a game you can play with the kids, but with your dog as well. Brain games like this will offer your four-legged friend a way to keep itself busy. You can play hide and seek with yourself being the one it is trying to catch, or else hide various toys and treats around the house ready for a happy search to commence.

Get things going and continue to renew the hidden objects, always putting them in new areas once found. This way your dog will continue to move around, get a little bit of exercise, and plenty of stimulation!

In most cases your dog will consistently search for a little while and then, once exhausted, settle down for a well-deserved nap.

Just remember not to give too many snacks, and also to continuously change your hiding locations. After all, you don't want the game to become too easy!

Indoor activities to exercise your dog in winter

There are many great indoor games that will continue to strengthen your dog's physical body, not only stimulating and getting them moving but actively strengthening them and making them more capable. You don't want your doggo to put on weight in winter, so games and activities built around exercise are always a good idea.

These couple of activities will actively improve your dog's physical health, keeping it physically occupied and very fit. They might be harder in winter, but they're not impossible!

Agility training is typically something to be done outside - but it doesn't have to be.
Agility training is typically something to be done outside - but it doesn't have to be.  © Unsplash/Angel Luciano

Indoor agility training

The phenomenon of agility training is a relatively modern one, but not something to be sneezed at. Agility training allows your dog to practice its movement skills as well as maintain its fitness. Ultimately, it is a glorified obstacle course. Because of that fact, while you would usually do it outside, it isn't impossible to set it up inside!

Instead of using professional equipment as you would do at a dog park, use common household items like broomsticks, cardboard boxes, sticks, and chairs. With a variety of furniture, your options are nearly endless with tables, stools, couches, beds, or whatever you want!

Have your dog navigate the obstacle course, taking it slower inside not to risk any unnecessary complications. Guide it through, change the setup, and repeat. Reward your dog when it is successful – but not too much, of course.


Fetch is not ideal indoors, but it's still possible.
Fetch is not ideal indoors, but it's still possible.  © Unsplash/Mathew Coulton

Fetch can be a little risky indoors as your doggo can get quite excited and easily break stuff, but the task isn't impossible. Just choose items unlikely to bounce and make sure to throw them close to the ground. Avoid balls and frisbees, and instead go for soft toys and other items.

Make sure to get your dog excited, but not so much so that it will jump around like a madman and break everything in its path!

Here are some items you can use for indoor fetch:

  • Chew toys
  • Dog toys
  • Fluffy or soft toys
  • Sticks
  • Pillows
  • Socks and other clothing

Be very careful to choose items that your dog won't accidentally choke on, however. That would be a very unfortunate end to your fun-as-heck indoor winter game.

Dog dancing

If your dog likes to move, then it might also like to dance!
If your dog likes to move, then it might also like to dance!  © Collage: Unsplash/Angela Baker/Kevin Jarrett

If your dog likes to move, then it might also like to dance!

This activity is awesome because it's joyful, it's insanely fun for everyone involved (and ridiculously cute), and it's great for their bodies. Dog dancing helps to strengthen their muscles and keeps them fit during the winter months. It also works great to improve physical coordination skills and reduce mental frustration.

To complete a dog dancing routine, perform a dance-like movement, set to a rhythm of basic dog commands such as "sit," "shake," and "up." Combine them in a linear series and do it yourself, showing the dog how it's done and dancing with them as they follow the routine.

Not only is dog dancing great for your canine companion, but it's ridiculously fun and a great bonding experience – seriously, you won't regret giving this one a go.

Dogs and cold weather don't mix

As much as you may feel the winter coziness creeping in, shaking your bones, and begging to finally go outside, it's not a good idea. While two walks or so a day are necessary whether it's summer, autumn, fall, or winter, during the coldest months those walks need to be kept short, sweet, and gameless. Instead, owners should use some of the tricks and tips we've set out in this article.

Keep your dog happy and occupied, but do not allow it to spend so much time outdoors that it is going to get sick. A sick dog is an unhappy dog, and it's better to have a happy dog than one that's feeling so dreadful that it has transformed into a grumpy pain in the butt. Seriously!

Cover photo: Unsplash/Jesper Brouwers

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