At DogWatch HQ in Natick, Massachusetts, we are preparing for a major blizzard. In addition to stocking our fridges and getting our shovels ready, we are also preparing our pets for the storm. We’ve already covered cold weather safety tips and paw care on the blog. Today, we’ve collected some fun indoor games for your dog, to help him channel his pent-up energy and exercise his brain and body even when he’s snowed in. Ready, set, PLAY!

Find the Food

There are lots of creative ways to make mealtime into an entertaining, engaging game on snowy days. Kong toys are a popular option – simply put your dog’s food inside, add peanut butter on top to make it harder to get (and more enticing) and hand it over! Puzzle toys are another great choice, including Nina Ottoson’s puzzle toys, which we featured in past Holiday Gift Guides. Or your could make your own food puzzle toy using things you already have in your house! Break up dinner in small portions, hide it around the home, and ask your dog to search for it. Or try one of these fun options.

“Pick a Cup, Any Cup”

Muffin Tin Game

Doggie Basketball

Teach your dog to channel his favorite NBA player with a fun game of dog hoops! All you need to play is a laundry basket and your pup’s favorite ball. With your dog watching, drop the ball in the basket and say “drop.” After doing this a number of times, hand the ball to the dog and say “drop.” If he drops it in the basket, reward with lots of praise and a treat. This may take a while to master, but on a snow day, you’ve got plenty of time, right?

Back to School

Just because the kids are home from school doesn’t mean the learning has to stop! A snow day is a perfect time to brush up on your dog’s training. Does she need a refresher course in “stay” or “wait” or “place”? Have you always wanted to teach her “roll over” or “paw”? Try it out today, and recruit the family to get involved. Your dog will love the attention and activity, and you’ll be proud to show off her new trick!

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek is another game to get the whole family involved. One person asks the dog to “stay” while the other shows the dog treats in her hand and then hides in another room. Then ask the dog to find her, and give her the treats as a reward when she does! If it’s just you who’s able to play, then you can play hide and seek by hiding your dog’s toys or treats throughout the house and asking him to find them. This game acts as both physical and mental exercise for your pup, and it can be a lot of fun for kids, too. Just make sure you tell your dog when the game the over – you don’t want her chasing you throughout the house everyday.

Treadmill Time

Did you know that dogs can be trained to run on treadmills? These running machines can be a great substitute for walks when the weather is bad. As Cesar Milan advises on his site, it is important to start slow, and make sure your dog is accustomed to the movement before increasing speed or using the treadmill regularly. Also, to ensure safety, you’ll need to monitor your dog at all times when he’s on the treadmill. With these guidelines in mind, try it out, just like Munchkin the Teddy Bear Dog!

Spa Day

Ok, so it’s not so much a game as an activity to pass the time. Turn your snow day into a spa day! Now’s the time for that much-needed bath (not too cold, of course!) and brushing. Doesn’t sound like fun? Start slow, add treats and praise, and minimize other distractions, and your dog can learn to love this quiet pampering. Here’s a great article with tips to help your dog get used to (and yes, maybe even look forward to) grooming.

Plain Ol’ Fetch

Hey, if it works, why mess with it? Chances are your pup loves to fetch, so indulge him on these indoor-only days. Break it up with some tug-of-war and you’ve got a fun exercise to get you both moving, and lift your spirits on these gloomy days. And while you’re at it, why not capture this fun on video?

Enjoy these games, and to everyone in the path of this latest winter storm, stay safe!

Photo Credit: Remi the Puggle by Elyse Blanda