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how to play with your dog

If you’ve noticed your dog chasing its tail more frequently than ever these days. Or worse, moping around the house all day, quarantine may be getting to your furry friend. After all, research shows that dogs are sensitive to environmental conditions and changes, and with COVID-19 disrupting everyday routines, your dog’s lifestyle may not be what it used to be. Whether your walks have become shorter or less frequent, or your local dog run has closed down, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your pet might feel stressed if the age of social distancing has resulted in a dusty leash.

This would especially be the case if you happen to live in an apartment or other small living area with little or no outdoor space. Luckily, no matter where you live, you can learn how to play with your dog in quarantine to keep its tail wagging. Here are a few games to play with your dog and some dog gifts to keep both of you entertained during this tumultuous time.

Dog Puzzles

how to play with your dog - puppy treat dispenser

Get it on Tophatter for around $13

Keep your dog’s brain sharp with a puzzle specifically designed for canine cognitive skills. A vibrant puppy treat dispenser slows down feeding while keeping boredom at bay. And a smell pad uses the smelling instinct to relieve stress and provide mental stimulation. If you prefer to work side by side with your pup to complete a puzzle, try the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick, which presents your dog with a new challenge each time it plays with it.

Canine Exercise Toys

how to play with your dog - dog play bell

Get it on Tophatter for around $10

Being stuck indoors doesn’t mean your pet shouldn’t get the exercise it needs. If you have enough space in your living room, set out this dog tunnel and encourage your dog to make it to the other side with an enticing reward. If it thinks tunnels are a bit too dark and scary, simply play a game of fetch indoors with a dog play bell it’ll love to chew on for hours.

Hide ’N Seek

how to play with your dog - dog chew

Get it on Tophatter for around $25

A classic game of hide ’n seek combines mental stimulation and physical exercise. At the same time making the most of every nook and cranny in your living space. Whether you use simple dog chews or a rubber toy filled with peanut butter, like the Kong dog toy, be sure your dog is out of sight when hiding its “prey” and then watch it dart around the house while burning off pent-up energy.


how to play with your dog - cotton rope

Get it on Tophatter for around $17

Using a cotton rope toy or the super-stretchy Orbee-Tuff toy designed for tugging, bring out your dog’s predatory instinct with a game of tug-of-war. You may notice your dog growling as it plays. As long as its tail is wagging, you’ll know it’s having fun. Just be sure your friendly game doesn’t encourage too much aggression. According to Dr. Mary Burch, director of the AKC Family Dog Program, “Dogs that have a history of aggression (toward animals or humans) can often take tug games too seriously.” For these dogs, other games are more suitable. If your dog isn’t the aggressive type, play away. Burch says, “Tug-of-war is an enjoyable game for the dog, and playing it strengthens the bond between the owner and dog.”

Shop all the dog games and gifts here:

  1. Puppy Treat Dispenser
  2. Smell Pad
  3. Dog Brick
  4. Dog Tunnel
  5. Play Bell
  6. Dog Chews
  7. Kong Dog Toy
  8. Cotton Rope Toy
  9. Orbee-Tuff

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.


Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, and VICE.

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