Is your furbaby giving you those sad puppy dog eyes again? Are you feeling like a bad pet parent because your best bud looks bored out of their fur? Tired of the long, deep sighs coming from your canine companion? Well, then it seems like you can sure use a few (p)awesome ways to entertain your dog.
While some pooch lovers may struggle to come up with fun ideas to stimulate and amuse their buddies, this unique list eliminates the stress of figuring out what to do to keep your bored canine out of trouble. Not only will they have fun with these activities, but they’ll also avoid adopting destructive behaviors such as excessive chewing or barking. Indoors or outdoors, here are some tried-and-true pointers that are guaranteed to keep your hound howling (though hopefully not too loudly) with delight!
Table of Contents
- 1. Hunt down treats
- 2. Try to win at Tug-of-War
- 3. Toss around a stuffed Kong
- 4. Play a game of Hide-and-Seek
- 5. See how far you can throw for Fetch
- 6. Kick around a soccer ball
- 7. Warm up your hands for a doggie massage
- 8. Create an agility or obstacle course
- 9. Try an interactive feeder
- 10. Meet up with some other pups
- 11. Enroll your furry best in doggy daycare
- 12. Teach some new tricks
- 13. Clear a window for people watching
- 14. Play a DVD
- 15. Hire a walker for exercise
- 16. Snuggle up & unwind
- 17. Try a fun fountain
- 18. Adopt a canine sibling
1. Hunt down treats
One of the best ways to tire out your pooch is to have them hunt down some treats. In activities such as these, their natural animal-tracking instincts kick in as they use their splendid sniffers. Yet, finding hidden yummies isn’t just about digging up a snack or two, it’s also an exercise in mental stimulation.
At our house, my 13-year-old Rottweiler/Labrador retriever mix, Maya, goes absolutely nuts for cheese and bread. Once in a while, I’ll have the kids place a few of these treats around the living room, making sure they hide them in spots that are easily accessible to her. Then, when everything’s set, we call her. Once she arrives, her sniffer automatically takes over and off she goes, snuffling and snorting her way to victory.
2. Try to win at Tug-of-War
Tug-Of-War is quite possibly the best way to engage your dog. Be it with you or another canine, this game not only exercises your dog, but it’s also a mentally stimulating activity that challenges them to outmaneuver their opponent. With a jaw that can crack bone and incisors that can strip meat, the odds are pretty much stacked against any human. What’s more, this is the perfect activity for either outdoor fun or indoor rainy-day play.
3. Toss around a stuffed Kong
A Kong toy is fun, but a stuffed toy Kong is truly an exciting, yummy sensation! The great thing about this dog chew toy is, it takes mere seconds to stuff the center with delectables like peanut butter, cream cheese or other scrumptious stuff. Once they pounce on it, your dog will spend hours happily occupied, licking at its center of foody goodness. Kongs are great because they oblige pets to work for their treats, engaging them for long periods of time.
Dishwasher safe, nontoxic, and (virtually) indestructible, some pet parents deem Kongs an essential item both for sport and entertainment purposes. No matter the size of your companion, you’ll find these cool toys are available in a wide range of dimensions, from itty bitty to positively colossal.
4. Play a game of Hide-and-Seek
Though you may need a second person around to help out with this game, Hide-and-Seek is a great way to engage your pet’s sniffing and hunting instincts to find their most favorite human in the world… you! If your furry best has mastered the “stay” command, then this activity is fairly straightforward. Simply ask them to “stay,” and call out to them once you’ve hidden somewhere. With a second person around to help, they’ll merely distract your pup until you’re in place. Don’t be surprised when Fido finds you within seconds with his first-rate sniffer!
5. See how far you can throw for Fetch
So, how far do you think you can throw a ball for a game of Fetch? Pet parents, this all-time popular sport could very well be a canine’s favorite pastime. Whether it’s a stick, ball or toy, you’re guaranteed hours of fun with Fetch!
There are no-doubt hundreds of items you can purchase in pet stores that would make excellent Fetch toys, but honestly, there’s no need to spend so much money. I have to admit, I’ve purchased plenty of “throwing things” over the years, but my sweet Maya’s top choices are a plain tennis ball, sturdy stick, and Frisby. To make it easier for me, I like using a tennis ball launcher.
6. Kick around a soccer ball
Are you a fan of “the beautiful game?” Then, perhaps you’d enjoy kicking a good ‘ol soccer ball around with your pal! Though do be careful with your kicks, they might end up sending the ball straight to your buddy’s face. While a sturdy Mastiff may not even realize they were hit with a ball in the nogg’in, a teacup chihuahua could very well end up needing a stretcher on the field. So, mind the ball to avoid any injuries, and you’ll also skip out on the referee handing you a red card!
7. Warm up your hands for a doggie massage
Since my poor dog suffers from arthritis, I often treat Maya to a gentle, relaxing massage. Not only is it great for her aching muscles and sore joints, but it also calms her down and helps her sleep better. But there’s no need to wait until your furry best has an ailment to give them one of these wonderful treatments.
Along with improving circulation, relieving stress and reducing anxiety, it also strengthens the bond you have with your precious pet. Just make sure to skip the oil or else you’ll have a spikey-haired monster on your hands!
8. Create an agility or obstacle course
Be it a simple obstacle course or complex agility run, you can create one of these impressive set-ups in your backyard or even indoors in your basement. That way, rain or shine, you’ll always have a fantastic method to exercise your canine. Introducing these great sets will keep your pooch mentally stimulated and encourages focus.
When it comes to building one of these, the sky’s the limit! But to give you a few ideas, use blankets, towels, and couch pillows to make “soft” obstacles your companion can run around and weave through, throw in an upturned laundry hamper or two for some jumps, and add a few passes underneath a table to add to the crazy adventure. Do you have a kid’s slide or tunnel? If so, you’ll sure have one seriously cool obstacle course, though your pup may end up having to share with the little humans.
9. Try an interactive feeder
Interactive feeders are a fantastic way to engage your furry best! These feeders are available in various types, though they’re typically in the shape of a puzzle that’s used to hide edible treats. These gadgets will keep your pet entertained and occupied for quite some time.
10. Meet up with some other pups
Does FiFi have a pack of poodles she loves hanging out with? Organize play dates with doggie friends for some play time while you chat with fellow humans and have some fun too! Whether it’s a bunch of beagles or a group of kids, you’re pretty much assured they’ll be asleep in the car on the way home because of all that exhausting entertainment.
11. Enroll your furry best in doggy daycare
Daycare is an excellent way to socialize your furry friend if they don’t have any pooch pals. By the time you pick them up from doggie daycare, they’re sure to have made at least a dozen new buddies. For pet parents who work long hours and leave their precious pup alone most of the day, doggy daycare is a great idea to eliminate boredom and loneliness.
While these facilities can cost a pretty penny, there’s no need to use them every single day of the week. Be it once in a while or once a week, any amount of socialization is always a good thing. However, do make sure to enroll Brutus in a reputable daycare, only after having toured the location and interviewed the staff and management. Or, better yet, ask around and do some online research to find the best business for your family.
12. Teach some new tricks
As the saying goes, “You’re never too old to learn something new.” Yes, I know, there’s also the one about, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but I’m a firm believer that age has nothing to do with capability. As such, I think a splendid way to keep our pups on their paws is to engage them in learning new things. There are plenty of YouTube channels pet parents can watch for basic training methods to help them along. The key to training is patience on your part and focus on their part, but also remember to have fun while you’re at it because you’re both learning something new!
13. Clear a window for people watching
My dog Maya is a huge fan of people watching. Truth be told, she’s quite territorial, and just ends up barking at every passerby. Well, actually, it would be more accurate to say she barks at everything that moves, be it a squirrel, leaf blowing in the wind, or shadow. Nonetheless, if looking out the window makes her happy, then I’m only delighted to oblige!
There’s no need to draw back the curtains for every single one of your windows. Instead, select a few that would give your companion an unobstructed view of the world. For smaller breeds that are vertically challenged, place a chair or sofa in front of the window so they can comfortably enjoy barking at the neighbor’s Grey Hound or quietly stare at passersby.
14. Play a DVD
While you may look forward to binge watching back-to-back episodes of your favorite TV series on Netflix, Bowser might want something more canine-appropriate. There are quite a few DVDs available that are specifically for dogs, and pets can relax in front of images like a virtual walk through the woods where they encounter different animals. Usually, these movies have soft nature sounds, music, and sonic sounds only dogs can hear, all things meant to create a peaceful environment for dogs who are left alone.
15. Hire a walker for exercise
Another wonderful way to entertain your dog while you’re away for work is to hire a dog sitter or walker. Many elderly pet parents who have limited mobility also depend on this wonderful alternative to provide their furbabies with regular walks.
While a doggie daycare can be pricey, dog sitters or walkers are typically more affordable, and your canine will enjoy some quality one-on-one time, albeit with a different person. Again, in this instance, a referral would be best as you’re not only trusting someone with your buddy, you’re also allowing them to enter your home in order to care for your dog.
Ask your groomer or vet for a referral if you don’t know anyone who could point you in the right direction. However, another alternative would be to ask a family member or friend if they’d like a fun job as your furry best’s walker.
16. Snuggle up & unwind
Entertaining your dog doesn’t necessarily entail non-stop action. Instead, it can very well include some nice one-on-one time spent snuggling and relaxing together. With massage, it’s your pup that enjoys the attention, but with some scheduled snuggle time, you’re both bonding while unwinding.
Really, this activity couldn’t be more natural as you merely need to sit or lie down and… relax. Switch the places around once in a while, and try hanging out on the sofa or your bed, in the yard while sun tanning or even take a blanket to the park for a snooze together with your pup.
17. Try a fun fountain
Like feeders, toys and treat puzzles, an interactive water fountain can be an interesting way to both make sure your dog is getting enough fresh water and also pique their interest. Mostly, all dogs love water, so the thought of some water fun normally gets their tails a-wagg’in. Although, with water fountains, there is a period of adjustment. So, don’t just leave your pet at home one day with this new gadget since, most likely, they’ll refuse to use such an oddity. If you’re going to purchase one, do get them used to drinking from one and interacting with it while you’re home. Otherwise, it may end up being a waste of money.
18. Adopt a canine sibling
Consider rescuing or adopting another pooch if your pup seems lonely or depressed. In this instance, it could be that entertainment isn’t lacking in their lives, it’s companionship. Not only will a canine sibling help your buddy, but it’ll also give another animal the hope of a forever home, which is something that few pets have the chance to experience.
Yes, you’ll be adding another responsibility to your no-doubt already long list. Yet, by welcoming another member to the pack, one that fits in seamlessly with your family, you’ll be gaining another warm-hearted companion and saving a precious life.
As you can see, there are many simple ways to entertain your dog. And quite frankly, there’s no need to go out and spend some big bucks on a state-of-the-art doggie entertainment system. Remember, in the end, they’re thrilled to spend time with you, no matter what you choose to do with them. So, keep it simple and have a blast!