There are plenty of unique and exciting ways to keep dogs entertained – if you’re willing to get creative!
If you and your pup are tired of the usual throw, fetch, and repeat, why not try something new? We’ve thought up 43 exciting ways to keep your dog entertained in all types of situations.
How to Keep a Dog Entertained When Outdoors
Keeping Your Dog Busy with Solo Play
Do you have a busy pooch but not enough hours in your day? These solo activities are so engaging that your dog won’t even notice you’re missing.
1. Stay Cool with Doggie Ice Blocks
Doggie ice blocks are a great way to keep your dog cool and occupied while you catch up on some indoor tasks.
Simply fill a large ice cube tray with water or dog-friendly stock. Then, add in any sort of food that your dog enjoys – mine are partial to fruit, pigs ears, or even a favorite toy – and freeze.
Your dog must work to melt the ice and enjoy its treat at the end. This guarantees hours of dog-friendly entertainment.
2. Pyke their Curiosity with The Wobble Wag Giggle Ball
Taking advantage of your pup’s senses is a great way to keep them busy and use their instincts to invite play.
A simple way to do this is to incorporate noise-based toys, like this adorable Wobble Wag Giggle Ball. Since many dogs rely heavily on their hearing, noisy toys are a fantastic way to hone their skills and grab their attention. The sounds will encourage them to chase the ball without any prompting from you.
The Wobble Wag Giggle Ball is versatile, with four clutch points for your dog to grab. Its high-pitched noises are created through its internal design, meaning it’s battery-free and safe for your dog to enjoy solo.
3. Sand Pit Play
Sandpits are the perfect outlet for dogs who love to dig. If your dog is reasonably independent, you can leave them to enjoy free play.
However, if they prefer a little more stimulation, why not turn it into an activity? For example, you can bury some treats throughout the sandpit. This encourages your dog to work their sense of smell and provides both a challenge and a reward.
4. Light Play with the Blinky Babble Ball
Flashing toys are naturally enticing to your dog. They play on a pup’s desire to hunt and chase prey, turning the practice into a fun self-motivated game.
The Blinky Babble Ball is a perfect all-rounder toy for this activity. It’s motion activated, which supports independent activity, and combines light play with sound play. This gives your dog plenty of opportunities to run, chase, and keep themselves occupied for hours.
Independent ball games are a great way to build your dog’s eye/mouth and eye/paw coordination. So not only are they having fun, but they’re also working on some essential skills!
5. Dog Treat Treasure Hunt
This activity is an exciting way to keep your dog entertained. It’s simple to set up and allows your dog to work at their own pace.
A dog-treat treasure hunt requires very minimal prep. Simply open a packet of your dog’s favorite treats, and hide them in accessible spots around your backyard.
The smell should be enough to set your dog’s tail wagging. Your bestie will have hours of fun tracking down the treats and working on devouring them. You can pick chewier treats to create a more prolonged activity.
6. Throw Them a Bone
The backyard is perfect for your dog to curl up in a shady spot and enjoy working away at a bone.
While this isn’t something you can exactly join in on, your dog will still need some monitoring. For example, avoid bones with extra small pieces that may be easily shattered to prevent accidents.
Activities to Try With Your Dog
Looking for a way to keep the whole pack happy? Why not give one of these five activities a try? You might even want to get the entire family involved!
7. Bubble Play
Big or small, bubbles are a great way to refresh your usual ball games and keep your dog busy. They’re exciting to chase, jump at, and burst.
This is a fun outdoor game in which even the kids can get involved. However, you will want to ensure that the bubbles you’re using are safe for every family member.
Dog-friendly bubbles such as the Pet Qwerks Doggy Incredibubbles are a worthwhile investment for any pet owner. Designed with dogs and children in mind, they add a whole other level to play! These bubbles dry in the air and do not pop when they touch the ground.
A little extra bonus: they’re peanut butter flavored.
8. Fetch with a Twist
If your dog loves this traditional game, why not try adding a fun twist? Back and forth fetch will help to get you moving and your dog’s mind going.
You’ll need two sticks to play this game. To begin, throw one stick at your dog. Once it retrieves it, throw the second stick in the opposite direction. Of course, your dog will need to use their instincts to follow both sticks. But, it’s a perfect way to train their brain and keep them engaged.
Investing in a slobber-proof toy is another way to make the fetch game a little more enjoyable for yourself. I’m personally a fan of the hardy Ultra Fetch Stick by Chuckit!
9. Puppy Soccer
Soccer is a great way to keep fit and participate in a social sport. So why should humans have all of the fun?
This activity will take a little bit of practice.
To start, you’ll need a soccer ball that is easy for your dog to maneuver. We like this Soccer Ball with Grab Tabs, as it’s so simple for everyone. In addition, it’s made to the same standards as a children’s ball, meaning it can withstand human force and dog teeth.
You can simply leave the game here and enjoy chasing and kicking the ball with your dog, or you can take it a step further and set up goal posts.
Commands and positive reinforcement can be used to encourage your dog to move the ball towards the goals. Keep plenty of treats on hand, and don’t forget the verbal encouragement.
10. Flying Disc
The popular game of frisbee is always a winner. But, if your dog loves to run, chase, and catch, then why not combine the three?
Flying disc is slightly different from fetch and will help your dog to develop additional skills. This is because the dog grabs the disc directly from the air rather than waiting for it to hit the ground.
A durable frisbee is an essential investment if you don’t want to find your game cut short by a snapped disc. The Kong Rubber Flying Disc is a worthwhile purchase if you hope to make the game a regular pastime.
The more you practice, the more confident your dog will get. You might begin to see it make some impressive leaps!
11. Water Play
Water play is one of the simplest ways to keep your dog entertained. Since dogs should always be supervised in and amongst water, this is an activity that is best done together.
You can set up a paddling pool and have an afternoon splash, or turn on the garden sprinkler and run amok with your pup. It’ll have great fun chasing the water jets, and you’ll both be much cooler on a hot day.
12. Doga/Dog Yoga
This can be done inside or outside, but everybody knows yoga is best practiced with a side of sunshine.
‘Doga’ or dog-friendly yoga, is a very simple bonding activity that your pet will love. Simply roll out your mat and begin your flow, encouraging your dog to join you. Attempt some poses together. If your dog is hesitant to get involved, you can coax them into position with gentle hand movements or even treats.
Stuck for ideas? A quick search for ‘Doga’ on YouTube will bring up hundreds of flows and prompts to get you both started.
13. Attempt a Water Sport
If you’re tired of your usual trips to the lake, it may be time to spice things up. There are so many dog-friendly water sports out there that it would be a shame to skip them!
Paddleboarding, kayaking, and dock diving are all fabulous options that will keep you and your pup occupied for hours.
Mastering a new skill out on the water will help build your bond and provide you with a few funny stories.
14. Try Vibrating Toys
Vibrating toys mimic the animals that dogs naturally prey upon. So if you have a dog who was bred to hunt, they’re a perfect play option for you!
The Hyper Pet Interactive Doggie Tail encourages interation through its squeaks, wiggles, and barks. You and your dog can work as a team to chase down the toy as it wiggles its way around the yard.
Ways to Keep Dogs Entertained if you’re Stuck Inside
Whether it’s been raining for a week or your dog is just more of a homebody, it’s easy to become stir crazy when everyone is stuck inside. However, you can use these things to keep your dog busy (and yourself sane).
15. Play Wands
These toys are the ultimate ‘lazy day’ item. They require minimal effort on your part, but will still work your dog’s mind and allow you to spend quality time together. So if you’re feeling under the weather but have a less than sympathetic dog at home – play wands are your answer.
The Outward Hound Tail Teaser is made of a durable nylon cord that can withstand jumping and nipping. Simply hold the rod and dangle the toy for your dog as if you were fishing.
They’ll need to use their wits to outsmart you and catch the toy. The squeaks and rattles will engage your dog’s prey drive and keep them eager for more.
16. Hide and Seek
Hide and seek with a dog is easier than it sounds. They’ll just need to know a few simple commands: sit, stay, and come/find.
Simply command your dog to sit and stay before finding a hiding spot for yourself. Start with something simple. Your dog will be more likely to play if they start the game on a positive note.
Once you’re hidden, call out “come” or “find.” Your dog will need to use its ears and sense of smell to puzzle out where you have gone.
17. Small Indoor Ball Play
Who says balls are only for the backyard? There are many ways to make this fun activity indoor appropriate. If your dog is stuck inside during rainy or snowy weather, give one of these tricks a try.
A toy like the BENTOPAL Interactive Wicked Ball is the perfect way to bring this game indoors. It’s small, with minimal bounce, and the lights make for a fun bonus! You can roll the ball with your dog or incorporate the item into your hide-and-go-seek game.
18. Tackle an Obstacle Course
Test your ability to work as a team by tackling an obstacle course together.
You can use cushions, chairs, and tables to create a miniature course in your living area. Set up tunnels, try some jumps, and incorporate some fun tricks. You will need to help maneuver your dog through the course. It’s a fun way to exercise both brain and body while testing trust levels and your dog’s obedience skills.
19. Treadmill Time
A bored puppy, plus that treadmill you so desperately needed but never used? A match made in heaven.
If you can’t get out for your usual walk, bring the walk to you! Pop your dog on a leash and stand beside them on the floor while they take a turn on the treadmill. If your dog has never done this, you’ll want to start them off slowly.
Keep the safety strap around your wrist and never leave your dog unattended on the treadmill. Remember, safety first.
20. The Cup Game
This is a fun twist on a classic human game.
Take three plastic cups (you don’t want any accidents), plus your dog’s favorite treat or small toy. Place the item under one of the cups. Rotate the cups randomly until it is no longer obvious which one had the treat inside.
Give your dog some time to track down the treat. This activity will engage both its brain and nose, adding an extra challenge and providing some hilarious moments for you both.
21. Teach Your Dog a New Language
English, to be exact! The Hunger for Words Talking Pet Starter Kit is perfect for some rainy day entertainment.
Use the four communication buttons to open up a dialogue with your dog. For example, you can record four simple terms to the buttons, which your dog can then press when they feel it’s applicable.
Unsure if your dog wants to go for a walk? They’ll quickly learn that they can let you know by pressing the ‘walk’ recording.
22. Tag Team the Chores
Dogs who can speak? Dogs who help with the chores? I know it’s starting to sound a little far-fetched… but it really can be done!
Pick up one of your dog’s favorite toys and wriggle it around. This will encourage them to grab it. When they do, say a simple phrase like “pick it up” or “take it”. Provide lots of praise and pats.
While your dog is holding the toy, take a treat into your hand and wave it over the toy basket. Your dog will follow your hand to the basket. Then, you can encourage it to “drop it” and provide it with its treat!
There are many in-depth video tutorials on the best training techniques for this activity.
23. Set Up a Playdate
If your dog is a social butterfly, being unable to take your usual trip to the dog park may be hard on them.
Instead of venturing into the poor weather, why not invite another owner and dog over to visit you? The change of scenery will be exciting for the other dog, who has likely also been stuck inside, and a friendly face is a sure way to perk up your pup.
How to Keep a Dog Entertained in a Car
Keeping your dog busy in the car can be the difference between a great road trip and a painful one.
24. Pack a Chew Toy
Chew toys are the perfect road trip alternative to a bone. They provide all of the mental and physical stimulation without any of the yucky stains or smells.
The Nylabone Power Chew Textured Ring is a perfect backseat companion. They come in multiple delicious flavors and your pup will be fascinated by the unique ridging pattern. This pattern will help keep your dog’s brain busy while keeping their teeth in tip-top shape.
The chew is also made of durable nylon. As a result, it can survive even the toughest of chewers and will last you multiple trips.
25. Snuggle Up with a Stuffed Toy
Is your dog an anxious traveler? Anxiety in the car can be challenging to deal with. It often leads to car sickness, out-of-the-ordinary behaviors, and whining. Not fun for you or your dog!
A stuffed toy is the perfect companion for an anxious dog. The texture of a soft toy can be highly comforting if they feel isolated. In a car, simpler toys are better. Try a soft squeaky toy like this Multipet Gumby Plush Filled Dog Toy.
26. Stop for a Hike
This may not be possible on every trip, but it is a fun way to work off some energy!
Stopping for a hike or even a quick walk will help tire your pup out before you set off on the next leg of your journey.
Be sure to have extra water on hand, especially on a hot day.
27. Teach Your Dog to Sing
What could be more fun than having your dog join the family sing-along?
Teaching your dog to sing is a perfect car activity for passengers. You will need your dog, some music, and their favorite treats.
Head to YouTube, and you’ll find endless training methods and demonstration videos of cute pups hitting those high notes. It’s a relatively simple exercise that has adorable results!
This party trick will work best for breeds already quite vocal – think Beagles, Basset Hounds, or Alaskan Malamutes.
How to Keep a Dog Busy in a Crate
A crate is usually a place of rest… but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! There are plenty of quiet activities that will keep your dog relaxed in their crate for hours.
28. Introduce Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are a fantastic way to keep your dog’s mind active while their body is still. There are many forms of puzzle toys: from those that provoke your dog’s prey drive, to those that use food to create motivation.
In a crate setting, food-based puzzle toys are often the best choice. Something like this Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Brick is a perfect investment. Your pup will need to navigate flaps, slides, and lids to earn their treat.
If you’d like to try something different, however, the Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle is also suitable for use in the confined space of a crate.
29. Play Classical Music
Dogs are far more cultured than many people give them credit for. Like us, they enjoy settling down and listening to some relaxing music.
Playing quiet classical music nearby will help your dog to unwind and can even aid sleep. It’s a perfect late afternoon treat.
30. Provide a Cuddle Companion
No, we don’t mean another dog. Although…
Seriously, though, a companion to cuddle with is a great way to settle your dog in their crate and keep them busy for hours to come. A simple plush such as the Multipet Lambchop Dog Toy is more than enough.
If the toy is kept solely for crate time, it will remain a novelty and your dog will treasure their time together all the more.
31. Set Up a Dog Camera or Voice Recording
Crying and loneliness can become an issue if your dog spends a lot of time in their crate while you are out of the house. A great way to combat this is by keeping in touch with them throughout the day.
Doggy cameras are very similar to baby monitors. They can be set up within the crate, allowing you to peep in at your dog. To keep in touch, you’ll want to select a model that has a speaker. Many cameras allow you to tap in via your phone and speak to your dog through the system.
If you’re looking for something a little more low maintenance, why not try playing them a voice recording? For example, you could create a quiet playlist to pop on in the background during the day. Add the occasional voice recording, and your pup will feel like you never even left.
32. Try a Treat Dispenser
Treat dispensers are an absolute hit with most dogs. While they shouldn’t be made too tricky to access, you do want your dog to have to do a little work for their reward.
The StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy is the perfect balance of testing your dog’s brain without risking frustration. You don’t want the crate to become stressful for your pup.
How to Entertain a Dog After Surgery
Your poor pal is suffering enough – let’s not add boredom to their list of ailments.
33. Utilize Food-Based Toys
Food-based puzzle toys, such as Kongs, are perfect for pups in recovery. They require very minimal physical effort but quite a lot of brain power.
You could even DIY a puzzle toy using an old toilet paper roll. Simply fill the inside with frozen peanut butter, or dip it in yogurt, and let your dog enjoy it.
34. Doggy Massage
Doggy massage is a great way to connect with your dog and lift their spirits. Some TLC will be exactly what they need during an arduous recovery process!
There are hundreds of doggy massage tutorials available on the internet. It’s as easy as popping one on and following along. You don’t need to be a professional for this activity.
35. Lick Mats
These reasonably simple toys are perfect for dogs who need to take some downtime. Licking is an incredibly soothing practice for dogs, so these mats make for a tremendous stress-relief activity.
Lick mats are textured flat mats designed for your dog to, well, lick! You simply place your dog’s dinner or a few treats onto the mat. Since most mats are designed with ridges and brittles, they will really test your dog’s logical thinking.
Don’t worry, though – any food-motivated dog will quickly figure out what they need to do to extract their dinner.
36. Introduce a Toy Rotation
Many dogs are housebound after surgery. This can very quickly lead to boredom. Which in turn becomes frustration, creating destructive behaviors.
To prevent this, introducing a toy rotation system is a good idea.
Pack away half of your dog’s toys at the beginning of their recovery. Then, when they begin to grow tired of the remaining half, it’s time to swap! Your pup will always have something new to play with. Plus, you’re saved from constantly having to buy new toys.
37. Try Scent Work
As long as your dog’s nose wasn’t affected by the surgery, scent work is a great way to keep their mind active during recovery.
These can be as simple or complex as you like. You and your dog could quickly begin a full-training regime that will provide you both with a cool new set of skills.
If you’re looking for something a little less intensive, however, there are many DIY scent work games for beginners.
38. Take a Stroll
Fresh air is an integral part of recovery. If your dog isn’t yet up for a walk, that’s okay! You can still get them out and about in a dog-friendly wagon or stroller.
These products are specifically designed with mobility-impaired dogs in mind. They provide a gentle ride and a safe way for your dog to experience the outside world.
There are hundreds of options on the market. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, you can read our comprehensive guide on choosing the best dog wagon for your dog.
How to Keep a Puppy Entertained
Entertaining a puppy is a whole different ball game. But, these fun, high-energy ideas will keep your new addition so occupied that they won’t even have time to think about chewing your shoes.
39. Visit the Dog Park
Socialization is the key to raising a well-rounded pup. A visit to the dog park will set your smallest family member up for social success while also tiring them out in the process.
Keep your pup close at first and practice your etiquette. Remember that your dog is still learning, so they’ll likely make some social missteps. Supervision can make all of the difference in these situations.
40. Doggy Daycare
If you’re looking for something a little more structured than the dog park, why not give doggy daycare a try?
Many daycares will take pups once they are up to date with all vaccinations. They are a fun and safe environment for socialization with both people and other dogs.
41. Soothing Toys
Joining a new family is very stressful for a puppy. If your dog has some trouble adjusting, a soothing toy such as the Moropaky Heartbeat Toy could help take their mind off of things.
This adorable little snuggle puppy plays a heartbeat noise. The sound provides comfort to puppies by mimicking the womb’s environment, or the feeling of being snuggled up with their mother. It’s a great transitional toy.
42. Practice Basic Obedience
Everybody has to start somewhere! Basic obedience training involves toilet training and simple commands like sit, stay and come. It can be done at home or through a puppy preschool.
Either way, it’s a fabulous opportunity to bond with your new addition. Through obedience training, you will develop trust, respect, and understanding.
That’s not even touching on all of the other perks (like no more midnight bathroom trips!).
43. Establish a Grooming Routine
A well-groomed puppy is a happy and healthy puppy. Establishing a grooming routine can take time, so it’s a great way to keep you and your dog occupied.
You will likely want to spend a decent chunk of time on this activity. It’s normal for puppies to feel skittish at first. Especially as you work on sensitive areas such as their ears or nails.
If you’re struggling, take the time to see a professional groomer for some tips.
Any dog owner willing to get creative and put their dignity to the side will quickly realize that there are no shortages of things to keep your dog busy.
Feel free to share your favorite ways to keep dogs entertained – we’re always open to some fun ideas!