Indoor Games with Pets

Playing with your pets is a great way to reinforce training, strengthen your bond, incorporate exercise into your daily routine, and enrich your pet’s life. But when you can’t play outside, what games can you and your pet enjoy indoors? There are many fun and engaging options for safe and exciting indoor games with pets.

Why Play Indoors?

Indoor areas aren’t always the best spaces for play, with breakable objects, limited space, and immovable obstacles that can get in the way of a good time. But despite those difficulties, there are many reasons why indoor play may be best for pets, including…

  • Weather: Indoor games don’t depend on a nice day for perfect play. Indoor games can be played when it may be too hot or too cold, raining, or when other weather conditions limit outdoor play.
  • Lack of Space: Not all pet owners have yard space to enjoy with their pets. Indoor games, however, are ideal for those who live in apartments or condos that are not close to a park or other pet-friendly outdoor space.
  • Pet Type: While larger pets such as dogs, cats, or rabbits may be well-suited to outdoor games, smaller pets such as ferrets, hamsters, and gerbils may be safer and more comfortable when playing indoors.
  • Health: Health concerns such as allergies, limited mobility, or other conditions may make it safer and easier for pets and their owners to play indoor games instead of aggravating discomfort by playing outdoors.
  • Safety: Unsafe conditions, such as heavy traffic, toxic landscaping plants, potential predators, and other hazards could make it unsafe for outdoor games, but those hazards are eliminated with indoor playtime.

Top 12 Indoor Games with Your Pets

When an indoor space is safer and more comfortable for playing with your pet, there are many fun games you can choose from for entertaining and enjoyable activities. While different pets will appreciate different games, the most popular options include…

  1. Hide and Seek Hide from your pet by using a stay command, then calling your pet to find you in a different room. Another playmate can also keep your pet controlled while you hide, then release them for the fun of finding you. Hide behind a door, under a bed, in a shower, or in another out-of-the-way spot to challenge your pets’ seeking abilities.
  2. Treasure Hunt Help your pet sharpen its senses by hiding treats, toys, or other treasures around an indoor space so it can sniff out its rewards. You can tuck treats for dogs or cats between furniture cushions or under simple obstacles. For small pets such as ferrets or guinea pigs, hide treats in a diggable area so they can burrow as part of the fun.
  3. Tug of War Tugging games strengthen muscles and provide close interaction with your pet. Play tug of war in a large enough space so your pet can pull and shake the rope or toy, and allow some back-and-forth with the game so they are alternately “winning” and “losing” to keep the game more interesting.
  4. Hall Ball Use a long hallway for a fun game of ball with your pet. While you can’t throw long distances indoors, bouncing or rolling the ball off walls will give your pet great stimulation. Be sure there are no obstacles in the hallway, and that any hanging pictures are firmly secured so they won’t accidentally be knocked over as you play.
  5. Training Tricks Indoor playtime is a great opportunity to teach your pet new tricks or reinforce commands they already know. Your pet does not know the difference between a trick and an essential command, but how you train them – the excitement you show and the reward you offer for success – can always be a fun game.
  6. Dancing Put on your favorite music and dance with your pet, coordinating movements to the beat and using different commands or movements throughout each song. Larger pets may keep their paws on the ground and move about with you, or you can hold smaller pets and shift your posture and grip to encourage their dancing movements.
  7. Shell Game Give your pets a sniffing challenge by hiding a treat under one cup, shell, or other container, then shuffle several similar containers to rearrange their order. If your pet can pick out the correct hiding place, they’ve earned their reward and won the game. For the best challenge, use identical containers and shuffle them well.
  8. Bubble Catch Many pets enjoy chasing and catching bubbles, and it’s an easy game to play indoors. Blow bubbles for your pet in different directions, or turn on an automatic bubble blower for a fun cloud of bubbles. Be sure to use safe soap, however, that will not be toxic for your pet or cause stains as the bubbles land.
  9. New Toys Giving your pet new toys is a great way to add indoor fun to your routine. More unusual, enriching toys will catch your pets’ interest and stimulate their thoughts, particularly if you choose an interactive toy that may offer a treat. Different feeders and treat toys are available for all sorts of pets.
  10. Clean Up Teach your pets to pick up their toys as a fun game, and they’ll be happy to help clean up. For a bigger challenge, give each toy a distinctive name and reward your pet when they find the proper toy to match each name. Another option is to count toys and reward your pet when they reach a final number of toys picked up.
  11. TV Time For more relaxing indoor fun, consider a pet-friendly television show, such as programs featuring birds and mice to entertain your cat, or a show with other barking dogs to pique your dog’s interest. Allowing your pet to cuddle up as you watch your favorite show can be a great way to spend indoor time, or you can use the time as a grooming session.
  12. Shopping Trip If you and your pet really have cabin fever and need to get out, consider the fun of a shopping trip. Visit a pet-friendly store, such as a pet store, and stock up on necessary supplies or purchase a new toy or treats to enjoy when you get home. Interacting with other shoppers will also be a fun and enriching time for your pet.

Tips for Playing Games Indoors

No matter what games you play indoors with your pets, always keep your pet’s safety in mind. Be sure breakable objects are out of reach and not in danger of energetic play, and teach your pet the proper commands to stop playing if the game gets out of hand. Restrict games to one space to control your pet’s behavior and ensure they know where games can be played. With careful play and a variety of activities, indoor games can be a great time for you and your pet.