12 ways to tire out your dog indoors

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how to tire out a dog indoors

Taking your dog for a walk is generally the best way to tire your dog out and bond with him.

However, it’s not always possible to provide enough stimulation for your dog just with walks. Sometimes, you might just be unable to go on walks.

That’s why it’s good to know ways to tire out your dog indoors, too. Mental stimulation is just as important for your dog’s well-being as physical stimulation.

So, here are 12 ways to tire out your dog indoors.

12 ways to tire out your dog indoors

If you’ve ever heard the saying, “a tired dog is a happy dog,” then you know how important it is to give your pup enough stimulation every day.

A tired dog will be less likely to get bored and try to find ways to entertain himself. That’s a good thing, since many of those ways are likely to get him into trouble.

Tired dogs will also experience less anxiety and stress than dogs with lots of excess energy.

But what if you can’t get outside? How are you supposed to tire out your pup?

Try these 12 ways!

1. Hide treats

Does your dog love his treats? Instead of just giving him treats, make it a little more challenging. Make him work for them!

One of the best ways you can exercise your dog’s brain and keep him busy while you’re inside is hiding treats around the house. Get your dog to sit and stay in one area of your house. Then, hide some treats in another area and call your dog to come find them.

You can put them in some obvious places at first. As your dog gets better at finding them, you can make your hiding places a little more challenging.

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2. Play a sniffing game with tea bags

You probably know that your dog has a super strong sense of smell. But do you know how strong his sense of smell actually is?

Most experts agree it’s somewhere between 10,000 times to 100,000 times stronger than our own.

You should use this to your advantage if you’re looking for ways you tire out your dog indoors!

One way you can do this is by playing a sniffing game with tea bags.

This is a super easy game to play. Just get your dog to sniff a tea bag, then hide it under a blanket. Once your dog has sniffed out the tea bag, give him a treat as a reward.

3. Rotate toys

Most dogs love their toys. They’re super fun, after all!

But after a while, playing with the same old toys can get kind of stale. You wouldn’t want to read the same book every day or watch the same show, would you?

You might be thinking that the solution is to go out and buy some new toys. And while that’s definitely an option, there’s a far cheaper way.

Just rotate his toys!

Instead of leaving all of his toys out for him all the time, try only leaving a portion out and switch what toys are available to him every once in a while. It will make those old toys seem brand new again!

4. Hide his toys and let him find them

Different things motivate different dogs. Some dogs are really motivated by food. That makes hiding treats around the house a super effective way to get a dog to work.

But maybe your dog loves his toys a little more than he loves treats. Or maybe you just don’t want to spend the money replacing his toys so frequently!

One really great way to still get your dog to work is by hiding his toys around the house. Have him sit and stay, then call him over once you’ve hidden the toys.

5. Play the shell game

The shell game is a super great way to get your dog’s brain working. It’s also super easy to play!

All you’ll need are some treats and two cups. Get your dog to sit in front of you and the cups. Then, show your dog a treat. Hide the treat under one of the cups and then move the cups around in front of him.

Then get your dog to show you which one it’s under. If he guesses right, he gets the treat! If he gets it wrong, switch the cups around again.

6. Teach him a new trick

If you find yourself and your dog home alone with nothing to do and no way to go outside, you might want to take advantage of this time.

Maybe there are some tricks you’ve been meaning to teach your dog for a while. Teaching your dog a new trick is a fantastic way to work his brain. It can also be a super fun experience for both of you!

There are lots of really cool tricks you can teach your pup at home that will impress your family.

For some fun ideas, here are 11 easy dog tricks for beginners.

7. Set up an obstacle course indoors to tire out your dog

One really great way to work your dog’s mind and body at the same time is by having him go through an obstacle course. That’s why agility is such a popular dog sport.

But you don’t have to sign your dog up at a professional facility to try out agility. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your house!

You can set up an obstacle course in the comfort of your own home. If you’re looking to try this for yourself, the AKC has a super great guide on how to work on agility at home.

8. Food puzzles

Your dog’s meal time is a great opportunity to get him to work a little bit. Instead of just putting his food in a bowl, try making him work harder for it.

There are lots of really fun food puzzles available for dogs. These puzzles will challenge your dog and tire out his brain indoors!

9. Fill a Kong toy and freeze it

Dogs love having something to chew or lick. Unfortunately, many chewies don’t necessarily last a long time.

You might want to consider investing in a Kong toy. You can fill up the Kong with treats, or even a portion of his meal. Then, seal it with some peanut butter or some yogurt, if your dog’s stomach can handle it.

Then put it in the freezer and freeze it for a few hours or overnight. This will help your dog’s treat last even longer!

10. Play hide and seek indoors to tire out your dog

A good game of hide and seek is a great way to entertain your dog as well as yourself. Plus it’s super easy to play!

Get your dog to sit and stay in one room. Then, go hide in another! Call your dog’s name and wait for him to come find you.

Once he finds you, make sure to celebrate with a “Good dog!” and lots of excitement.

11. Play the which hand game

This game is a lot like the shell game, but you won’t need any equipment for it—except for some treats and your hands.

Put a treat in your palm and hold it in front of your dog to show him. Then close both hands in fists and hide them behind your back. Switch the treat to the other hand or keep it in the same hand. Then hold out your fists and get your dog to guess which hand has the treat.

If he gets it right, the treat is his! If not, try again.

12. Activity toys

Sometimes your dog needs entertainment, but you’re just a little too busy to give it to him yourself.

In these cases, investing in some fun activity toys will be a lifesaver. There are plenty available, so check them out and see which ones your pup might like best!

Looking for more fun at home? Make sure to also check out our 21 Fun Things to Do With Your Dog at Home!

How to tire out a dog indoors, related questions

Does playing tug tire a dog out?

Playing tug is a great game, and many dogs absolutely love it! While some people say that tug is something you should avoid at all costs, the reality is that it’s totally okay to play it with your dog. Plus, it’s super fun!

One of the other benefits of playing tug is that it’s a great way to tire your dog out quickly.

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Do car rides tire dogs out?

Does your dog adore car rides? One of the reasons why he loves them so much might be because he gets to spend more time with you.

Car rides also give your dog lots of opportunities to sniff new things, especially if you leave the window open. And as you know, working a dog’s nose is a great way to tire him out!

If your dog struggles with car rides, make sure to check out this article: How to cure dog car anxiety—help your dog enjoy rides.

How can I get my dog to calm down inside?

If your dog acts crazy inside, there are lots of ways you can help him settle down. For some information and advice on hyper dogs, check out these 9 hyperactive dog symptoms and how to help your dog calm down.

Trying out the above tips will help your dog get some energy out and allow him to settle down.

How to burn puppy energy indoors?

The above tips are great ways to tire out both adult dogs and puppies. With puppies, the important thing is to make sure they’re not getting overstimulated.

For some information on overexcited puppies, learn more about What causes puppy zoomies? 5 common reasons.


Getting your dog enough daily exercise and stimulation is important. But it’s not always possible to get outside to get him the exercise he needs.

In these situations, trying out these 12 tips will help. Try new things, get creative, and see how fun it can be to hang out with your dog inside!

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