7 Easy Indoor Boredom Busters

7 Easy Indoor Boredom Busters - Photo 1 - Doghaus Blog

When the weather dips to uncomfortable lows and the snow never seems to stop falling, we’re not the only ones who start feeling a little restless from spending so much time indoors.

Our cats and dogs still need their mental, emotional, social, and physical needs met, even if they can’t (or won’t) go outside. So we’ve compiled a list of things to do indoors that will fulfill their needs – and keep them happy and cozy, as well!

1. Play!

Dogs and cats are social animals and need emotionally and socially stimulating interactions to feel fulfilled. When their outdoor excursions are cut short because of extreme weather, it’s up to us to fill in the role of other animals and offer them an outlet for their playful and social behaviours. 

7 Easy Indoor Boredom Busters - Photo 2 - Doghaus Blog

Some playful games that have left us laughing along with our pets include:

  • hide and seek: while your pet remains in a ‘stay,’ hide somewhere and call them once you’re ready (behind a door, in a closet – somewhere out of direct eyesight)
  • tug of war: let your pet hold a toy in their mouth while you grab on to the other end, and keep pulling until someone wins!
  • fetch or soccer: toss something for your cat or dog to bring back, or simply see if your pet can catch what you’re rolling on the floor
  • tag: some pets don’t know or care what this one is about, but some of them love to be chased – or to chase you themselves! 
  • fishing pole: with your cat or dog’s toy on a string attached to the end of a stick, jerk the toy back and forth to elicit some hunting behaviours

2. Brain games

Engaging your dog’s or cat’s brain doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may sound: it all comes down to fulfilling their mental needs by providing new experiences, objects, places, and sensations – as we mentioned in our environmental enrichment blog.

Try challenging your pets by encouraging them to use their head and even their senses:

  • interactive puzzle toys: toys or puzzle boards (like those from Nina Ottoson) give your pets something to think about.
  • let them sniff new objects: after bringing home groceries, packages, etc. let your pet’s curiosity guide them! Or, just leave a box on the floor; that usually does the trick.
  • find hidden objects or treats: while your cat or dog waits, hide toys or treats in another room or out of sight, then release them and let them find their hidden treasures.
  • play the cup game: place a toy or treat under a cup, next to a few other of the same type, switch the cups around, and see if your pet can guess where their reward went!
  • snuffle mats: in a shaggy carpet or specialized snuffle mat, hide treats and let your dog or cat “snuff” them out.

3. Make meals fun

Mealtime comes around every day at least once, so why not take advantage of that and turn it into an activity? Offering engagement during meals will not only slow down those cats and dogs who inhale their food in one fell swoop, but may also reinvigorate a picky dog’s or cat’s interest. Best of all, these enriching meals will tire your pets out far faster than feeding them directly out of a bowl.

7 Easy Indoor Boredom Busters - Photo 4 - Doghaus Blog
Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Feeder stimulates your cat’s natural hunting needs!

Here are some easy ways to extend mealtime:

  • use slow feeders or food-dispensing toys: a Kong Wobbler or even a bowl with a few tennis balls placed on top of the food should do the trick
  • have your pets train for their meals: practice a few cues to slow them down and get their brains ticking
  • kibble scatter: on a mat or even on the floor, scatter your pet’s kibble and have them search for every piece
  • feed food in Kongs or other puzzle toys: stuff your washable toys with wet or raw food before feeding for an extra challenge

4. Practice your cues

Training is not only a great way to bond and practice your communication with your cat or dog, but provides a great cognitive workout that satisfies your pet’s mental needs. Spending 10 – 15 minutes a day working on cues is a quick way to use up extra energy: 15 minutes of mental work is equivalent to 1 hour of walking!

7 Easy Indoor Boredom Busters - Photo 5 - Doghaus Blog

There is no limit to what you can do to mentally stimulate your pets, but here are a few ideas to get your started:

  • sharpen your dog’s obedience: it’s never a bad time to practice cues like sit, down, stay, recall, and your dog’s or cat’s name
  • sharpen your obedience to your cat: you can never be too obedient to your cat’s needs and wants
  • teach your cat or dog something new: take out your clicker and teach your pet something fun!

For more inspiration, check out the four most fundamental cues we think your dogs should know.

5. Give them something to work on

There is no substitute for spending time doing something you love, and our pets feel this as well. Giving your cats and dogs ‘projects’ to work on will keep them quiet and happy for a while, but will also fulfill their biological need to chew, rip, graze, and overall, just be a cat or dog in their element.

7 Easy Indoor Boredom Busters - Photo 6 - Doghaus Blog

Some of our favourite ways to let our pets unwind – with supervision – include:

  • raw recreational bones: beef or bison marrow bones are a go-to favourite!
  • bully sticks or dehydrated chews: if these don’t last very long with your pets (yes, some cats like to eat them, too!), choose thicker and/or longer chews
  • stuffed Kongs and other stuffed toys: after filling your toys with food, freeze them to extend the time it takes to finish them
  • cat grass: leave a bowl out at all times if your cat likes to come and go on their own schedule

6. Spend some one-on-one time with them

As simple as this one sounds, time spent with your dog or cat is an activity that shouldn’t be underestimated, as it elicits feelings of love, trust, and safety in our pets. Bonding opportunities provide outlets for your pet’s social, emotional, and biological needs – and, of course, make you feel better, too!

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One-on-one time can be as short or long as you want it to be, but you can never go wrong with:

  • grooming your pets (as long as your cat or dog likes it!)
  • spending some time snuggling
  • giving them a massage

7. Go somewhere pet-friendly

Sometimes, your animals won’t be satisfied with staying indoors, no matter how many activities you provide for them: they want to go out and explore!

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Monty and Jasper enjoying cookies and milk at Döghaus

Luckily, there are plenty of places that will allow just that, so long as your cat or dog is well-behaved:

  • some hardware stores and warehouses allow pets (ask before going)
  • pay a friend a visit at their home
  • organise a doggy play date
  • take a break at a doggy café
  • come visit us at Döghaus!

Last of all, leave some of your cat’s and dog’s toys accessible throughout the day so that if your pets get bored, they can choose to entertain themselves whenever they want.

And if you have a high energy dog, think about enrolling in doggy daycare or classes during the winter months to help let out some of that energy!

Keeping your dogs and cats happy indoors isn’t as hard as it sounds; all you need is a little bit of time and creativity!

7 Easy Indoor Boredom Busters - Photo 9 - Doghaus Blog
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For every three (3) friends that you refer to our grooming service, your dog will receive one (1) free grooming session! 

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