Rainy Day Activities for Your Dog


You will not catch me, a native of drought-ridden northern California, complaining about how many days of rain, we have had, no ma’am, nor about how many days of rain that we are being told are on the horizon. I say, BRING IT.

My year-old dog Boone, however, disagrees. He is bored, bored, boooored.

It hasn’t helped that both my husband and I have been sick with some sort of virus for what feels like weeks, and so I have only taken the dogs off the property for a proper walk only a couple times in the past few weeks.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to try to keep the adolescent dog (especially) entertained:

  • Providing bones to chew. I recently found a local butcher who would take an order for the best kind of marrow bones – the leg bones that have been cut off cleanly at the ends. I’ve bought other bones from the butcher, but many of them come with either sharp edges or material that my aggressive chewers can just too easily chew off and swallow in chunks. The leg bones keep them occupied for long periods and have been a lifesaver (for me!) for the past few weeks.
  • Providing cardboard boxes to destroy. Neither of my adult dogs chew cardboard, but Boone loves a big box. It can take him hours to shred a big Chewy box down to a pile of little scraps, and he’s happy to do it. I now save random boxes for him to tear up when I need an hour or so of uninterrupted time. Yes, it’s a mess, but if I keep the activity confined to my office, it cleans up pretty quickly.
dog shredding cardboard
Fortunately, Boone doesn’t have any interest in consuming the cardboard, or this wouldn’t be such a great time-consuming activity for him. He will shred and shred for an hour quite happily.
  • Food puzzles and food-spilling toys. I have to separate the dogs to employ these, so as great as they are for occupying the dogs, it takes a bit of management work to give everyone a turn, so these have not been high on my list, even though the dogs love them. Food-stuffed and frozen Kongs work more like bones; I can hand them out all around and everyone is happy for a while. But they don’t take much brain-power or reduce the dogs’ energy much.
dog with treat puzzle toy
Toys like this are a great way to tire out a dog mentally, but they require individual set-up and supervision. If I had just one dog, I would likely feed him his ration in this type of toy. It would take several refills to hold each meal!

What do you do with your dogs when they are super bored?


  1. In the PNW we would never walk if the rain could stop us :D. But dangerous, torrential rain or just plain dangerous weather like last night’s windstorm does keep us cooped up inside. My inside space is very small so the main thing I do with my two big dogs to release energy is to play fetch up and down the hall. I have to be careful not to let my husky reach overload or he just starts rip snorting up and down the hall with a wild look in his eye and I swear he’s laughing. Other than that it’s cardboard boxes (must be a universal dog/cat thing), hide and seek with bits and bobs or “go play with your sister”.

    Hooray for your water supply restock! Stay safe and Happy New Year!

  2. Alas, it was so comforting to read that other parents of adolescents were experiencing the same thing ! From the time Jack bursts out of his crate at 6 a.m., and he’s suspiciously quiet for 4 minutes, I am gathering up the remnants of whatever is the latest fatality of his chewing. I have taken to putting the scraps on the kitchen counter where my husband will see what might possibly show up later in his potty area. Anyway, we have discovered that our 8-month-old Golden retriever is totally hooked on chasing the cat’s red dot device. He will run up and down the family room/kitchen trying to capture that dot until he is panting and smiling like he just came back from a run. It has been so helpful! We have also been taking him on evening “walks” thru Lowes and Home Depot… not ideal at his level of leash walking but a lot less muddy. Last thing, we discovered that a good microfiber dog towel minimizes the soggy mess from a short walk around the block.

  3. I have a set of agility weeves from Amazon. My dog does agility so this keeps her familiar with her least liked contact. Since my place is small we use 6 weeves and go one side then the other simultaneously with a play tug with her toy when all 12 are correctly done. No longer than 10 minutes at a time maybe twice a day. Good cardio 👍🏼

  4. I too have an energetic teenaged Australian Cattle Dog who requires a great deal of exercise. Chews and puzzles are helpful but not enough for her. I also have a 6 year-old Border-collie/cattle dog mix. They both like to chew but I worry about giving them too many chewers and which types are best. I think my dogs would get too possessive over raw bones so I’m afraid that might ramp up the stress at my house. In addition to donning my rain gear and taking them out to run around our property when there’s a lull in the rain, I engage them in sniffing activities. My youngster discovered her own toy to herd: a large, plastic water bottle with a handle. She chases it like a soccer ball, bats it, carries it, tosses it and more. She’ll do it rain or shine, for extended periods and the best thing is it’s a game she can play by herself. I can stand on porch and watch. But that’s not enough either so we play “sniffing” games. I hide treats around the yard or house and let them find them. My older dog LOVES the sniffing games and will search for hours – even in the rain. I also have a flirt toy for the pup and we practice their games and commands like shake, high-five, etc. for fun and sits and downs, etc. It’s definitely more challenging to keep two dogs with differing needs exercised and enriched so I appreciate all of the ideas.

  5. As the proud owner of a working bred dachshund ( tracking) I always try to find things to do should we be stuck inside for weather related reasons. His favorite game is hide and seek. This can be done with either a human hiding, or, his favorite: Hiding a toy for him to find. It really puts his nose to work and powers him out a little. Another one is a stuffed Kong, but unfortunately, it doesn’t last too long. One thing he won’t get for sure is a beef marrow bone. It will crack teeth due to it’s texture. Same goes for antlers and other really hard chew items.
    We live on the east coast and weather can get pretty bad. We try to go out every day anyways. There’s no bad weather – just bad clothes. :-))))

  6. I am not sure about supplying cardboard boxes???? I do not want him chewing up delivery boxes because he thinks its ok. Or Christmas presents in boxes. I use a lure on a lead and have him chase that or a big toy. I also have an open staircase that I can toss the toy up for him to retrieve. We are now playing chase around the round ottoman and the living room chairs, tug of war. My sofa is a corner sectional, so he jumps on and off it as he makes the turn in the living room. He has a puzzle and snuffle mat, but that is not physical exercise. He is an English Cocker spaniel and needs exercise. I too live in the PNW and will be getting back out there. I have a torn meniscus in my right knee and have had to not do so. I will try the laser pointer.

    • Most training professionals advise against introducing dogs to laser pointers; some dogs quickly develop an obsession with moving lights that transfers to chasing shadows in the house (as when people pass through a room and their shadow moves across a wall), to chasing (obsessively) shadows or light reflections from things outside the home. When someone (as ddenoyer above) mentions that their dogs play with them happily and without obsession, I don’t comment — but I have heard from MANY people who wish they never started their dogs down that path. If anyone else would like to comment, please do!

  7. I’m really, incredibly fortunate that my 5 year old Belgian Malinois mix prefers to sleep most of the day (rain or shine). I’ve tried to interest her in toys and balls (and even a laser toy) all to no avail.

    She’s a rescue so I don’t know her background.

  8. We are traveling in an RV this winter and have run up against deluges of rain that keep us inside. Besides tricks, I revived nose work. I don’t have the birch scent with me but I do have a lovely assortment of herbal tea bags. If I invite Esmé to Sniff one, ask her to Sit, and then hide it in the RV she has a wonderful time finding it. (I don’t even unwrap them. I can smell them through the foil wrappers and as it turns out, she most certainly can. Vanilla on a cotton ball is another we’ll be trying). This has been great fun for both of us and I love that she can apply the Search cue to different odors.

  9. I posted a reply in this thread twice and neither one appears. If there is some sort of delay I apologize for being repetitive. However, I want to make sure that the poster who wrote about using a “red dot device” is made aware of the fact that if she is using a laser pointer to play with her dog, she needs to stop doing this immediately. Dogs too often develop OCD from such play. They become hyper reactive to any shiny object or reflected light.

    I’ve been a trainer for over twenty years, believe me when I say that it’s a very sad thing to see and challenging to fix. Search “laser pointer syndrome in dogs.” Though less common, cats can also be so affected.

  10. I am lucky in that I have a local butcher shop that has a “dog” freezer where they put liver chunks, bones and other bits. I will go there and pull out a few bags of the leg bones, but I will have them cut them down the length, exposing the marrow. Each dog gets one raw bone once a week. They will spend hours licking and chewing that marrow out, scraping the outside of any trace of organic matter, then chew on the bone. After a few hours it’s the swapping of the bones. The next day they are still working on getting all of that flavor out of the bone. The next week I gather up the bones and toss them and a few days later, they get a new one and the process repeats.

    My vet says she has never seen such clean white teeth. My goal is to keep them that way so none of them ever need a dental cleaning. It worked on my previous two dogs.

    I’ve also used snuffle mats and a Kong Wobbler.

    Diana does scentwork so there is always a practice session if she gets stir crazy. I have small hides I can put all over a room, can use any size boxes and I just got a convenient practice set of jars. I keep her scentwork things in an insulated lunch tote so it’s easy to grab. I’m hoping Freyja might pick it up just from watching her and wanting to get in on the treats.

    Luckily all three dogs have matured to the napping stage. Freyja is the most active of the three and she doesn’t mind the rain. The other two will simply find a spot and settle down for a good nap. Or two. Or four. Eventually Freyja will join them when she’s accepted that no amount of cajoling will convince them to come out and play. And if they have problems settling, I can always retreat to my bedroom and they will follow me, jump up on the bed and settle down for a snooze for as long as I am there. Yeah, it certainly limits my movements but there is always a good book and whatever I might be doing can always wait.