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Just like their human companions, if dogs are cooped up in their homes for too long due to bad weather outside, they can get a little antsy. But finding rainy-day dog activities to burn off your canine’s relentless energy can seem like an impossible quest.
I recently started working with a dog trainer to help tame my rowdy but well-intentioned pups Remy and Lucy. During our first session, the trainer emphasized how vital mental stimulation is for dogs. Before her advice, I focused on ensuring my dogs got enough physical activity in a day as the only answer to preventing boredom. When the weather got too wild for our normal excursions, I’d bring out a puzzle or play a game of tug-of-war, all the while feeling guilty about our lack of exercise. My trainer’s advice helped shift my perspective and opened up a new world of fun for my pups and me.
While it’s still important for dogs to burn energy through physical activity, mentally entertaining your dog is just as good when getting outside isn’t an option. So when the weather’s wild, check out the list below of mentally stimulating activities to keep your dog joyfully entertained.
Bring out your dog’s inner forager with this fun-filled snuffle mat. Snuffle mats are an interactive option you can use for play or as a type of slow-feeder for mealtime. Just scatter some kibble or treats throughout the mat’s hiding spots and let your dog loose for an enjoyable hunt.
If you’ve got an anxious furry friend (like Oscar here), lick mats are great to have on hand. Another tidbit my trainer shared with me is licking naturally calms dogs and is an enjoyable activity that keeps their brains active. Just spread some peanut butter or pure pumpkin puree on these mats, and your dog will enjoy a tasty good time. They’re also a great way to get in some teeth cleaning.
Dog puzzles are fantastic. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and my dogs never get sick of them. This brick puzzle was one of the first dog puzzles I purchased, and both of my dogs jump for joy when I bring it out for playtime. Remy enjoys moving the brick pieces back and forth with his paws and snout to discover a tasty treat hidden inside. It’s good brainwork and a rainy-day activity that never fails to please.
Make your pet work for their treats while keeping them active with this chew ball treat dispenser. Simply fill it up with small treats and watch as your dog moves around the living room, determined to get every last crumb out. You can even load it up with kibble (for extra nutrition points) and use it in place of a bowl for an interactive meal.
Another one of my go-to dog puzzles is OurPet’s Sushi-themed one. Not only is it decorated with adorable sushi stickers, but it’s a simple yet fun way for my dogs to exercise their brains on a rainy day. You can easily fill up the hidden holes with kibble or treats and watch as your dog pushes the sushi back and forth for a yummy reward.
Knotted rope toys are fantastic and versatile toys with endless possibilities. Use them to burn energy playing tug-of-war or fetch with your energetic pup. It’s also great as a reliable chew toy when your pet needs to entertain themselves.
KONG’s extreme toy is another versatile dog toy great to have on hand for various rainy day dog activities. Fill it up with kibble and watch your dog have fun knocking it around to get their food out. Or stuff it with peanut butter and give it to your dog as a relaxing treat after a long day.
Challenge your pet to a game of hide and seek with this cute plush puzzle. Let your dog’s inner hunter come out as they search for squeaky stuffed squirrels hiding inside the tree trunk. If your canine gets bored playing by themselves, use the squirrels in a safe game of indoor fetch to switch things up.
If you’ve got a chew-happy pup, Benebone’s bacon-flavored wishbone is a much-needed addition to their toy collection. Even better, chewing is an active and enjoyable activity for dogs that helps them to relax. I like that this bone is durable even for super-chewers, like my rascal Lucy who has yet to destroy it after months of trying.
Snuffle mats might be my new dog toy obsession, and this one is high on my list. This snuffle mat is ideal for smaller dogs or to use as a slow feeder for fast eaters. This is a toy that will make both canines and their owners happy: Dogs will enjoy the hunt to find their kibble, and humans will appreciate that it’s compact, portable, and easy to clean.
One of my favorite rainy-day dog activities to keep my dogs’ minds and bodies active is practicing obedience skills with treats. Though it seems like a chore, my trainer reassured me working on obedience skills helps increase a dog’s confidence and strengthens your bond with them. I love using Zuke’s Mini Natural Training Treats for obedience sessions due to their small size and low-calorie count. Remy loves how they taste. It’s a win-win.
A classic game of fetch never goes out of style. Even if you have limited space, playing a quick game of fetch is a great rainy-day activity for dogs. Rule of thumb: Make sure to find a soft-shelled ball like Frisco’s squeaky football when playing indoors to avoid breaking a vase or window.