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Maybe you’re stuck at home because you or someone in your family is sick. Maybe the weather is what’s keeping you inside. Or maybe you’ve just got the day off.
Whatever the reason, if you find yourself stuck indoors wondering how you can make the best use of your time and you have dogs… look no further!
Here’s a list of 25 things that I’ve been doing with my 2 dogs while we’ve been stuck at home.
When was the last time you did these 25 things with your dog?
25 Boredom Busters For Dog Owners Stuck At Home
#1 – Break treats in half to make them last longer (…and get more for your money).
Dogs don’t care how big a treat is. They only care if they get a treat or not. Period. Size definitely does not matter in my dogs’ world. Maybe that’s because I’ve trained them this way — because I’ve been breaking storebought dog treats in half (or into 3rds of 4ths if they’re large or long treats, like chicken jerky strips) ever since they were tiny puppies. Any smidgen of a dog treat is a much-appreciated luxury (or reward) for my 2 dogs!
TIP: In addition to breaking dog treats into smaller pieces, here are 3 other ways to save money on dog treats without buying “cheap” dog treats.
#2 – Fill your dog’s Kong toys with tasty treats to freeze for later.
Whenever I have down time, I like to stuff a lot of Kongs at once. That way, they’re ready for me to dole out later — when they’re super bored or I need to get a work project done without being interrupted.
Stuck at home today? Yeah, I’d call that the ultimate “down time”… so why not make some tasty Kongs for your dog?!
TIP: Here’s my list of foods and recipes that work best inside Kong toys.
#3 – Wash the dog toys.
Here’s how I do it:
- Hard plastic toys get hand washed. Those with interior parts that I can’t reach simply get sprayed with Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface spray cleaner and I use a microfiber cloth to wipe all of the parts I can reach.
- Soft, plush dog toys get tossed into the washing machine. I use regular detergent. And if they’re super smelly, I might add some Downy Odor Protect fabric softener. (Love that stuff!) TIP: Fragile or small plush dog toys I put into a lingerie bag — so they stay in one piece.
- Treat toys (rubbery dog toys that are made for the purpose of stuffing them with dog treats) get hand-washed. I have various sizes of brushes that enable me to get all of the dried-up treats that remain. (It’s mostly the soft, spreadable treats — like peanut butter — that get stuck in all of the holes, cracks, and crevices.)
TIP: Here are my tips for cleaning Kongs and other dog toys when your dog’s treats are packed inside!
#4 – Vacuum the dog beds (and any rugs or carpeting nearby).
I don’t do this as much as I should. But my house always feels so much cleaner when I do. I have 2 long-hair dogs (Australian Shepherd – Golden Retriever mixes)… and they shed. A lot! So when I manage to get all of that loose fur out of the cracks and crevices of their 4 dog beds (2 in the living room and 2 in the bedroom), I actually have to vacuum less for the next few weeks.
TIP: See my bonus tip for using the vacuum cleaner when you have dogs. It really works!
#5 – Wash the dog’s bedding.
I definitely don’t do this often enough. So at times like this (stuck at home, cabin fever, spring cleaning, etc), I make a point to take my dogs’ zippered beds apart:
- I leave the interior padding & pillow parts on the porch all day — so the sun and fresh air can naturally deodorize them.
- I toss the dog bed cover itself into the washing machine — using regular detergent and fabric softener.
TIP: Don’t have a dog bed for your pup yet? See how my friend made 2 XL orthopedic dog beds for her 2 large dogs for half the price of buying them new! She used an old piece of memory foam. (Any old mattress topper or foam pillow insert would work just as well!)
#6 – Use a magic eraser to remove dried-up drool from the window sills.
Fortunately, there are only a few windows that my dogs look out of regularly, so only a few to clean. And nothing does the job better than a good ‘ol Magic Eraser!
TIP: Here are more than 150 additional ways to use a Magic Eraser around the house.
#7 – Wash the door that your dog uses most often (including the window-portion of that door).
Since the back door is the main location where our dogs go in and out of the house several times each day, this is where they typically:
- “Shake” their fur when they come inside — so there are muddy splash marks on the door (and nearby walls)
- Put their noses up against the glass-portion of the door (on both the inside and outside) — so mud, drool, dirt, and pollen tend to build up on the lower portion of the glass door.
TIP: I simply wipe it down using a microfiber cloth (because microfiber picks up everything — it’s almost like dirt and stains are magnets for a microfiber cloth) and some good-smelling Mrs. Meyer’s all-purpose cleaner. (FWIW, any scent from Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products is to die for. You don’t have to “like” the flavor that it’s describing.)
#8 – Brush your dog’s fur.
I like to do this outside on the porch — so all of the flyaway fur doesn’t end up in the house. If you use a Furminator brush like I do, then you’re actually loosening all of that undercoat… which is good, but messy!
TIP: If you’re stuck at home and it’s a nice day outside (sunny and a comfortable temperature), then any time I take a break from my work at the computer I usually sit on the back porch with my dogs. They crave the attention! Just to sit next to me on the porch — listening to nature and watching for people and dogs go in and out of our field of vision — makes their day. Mine too! Brushing their fur is just a bonus on days like this. (Just for fun… how many words does your dog understand? I counted 80+ phrases that my dogs understand and I use just about every day.)
#9 – Trim your dog’s nails.
This is another DIY dog grooming activity that I prefer to do outside on the porch — but I don’t mind vacuuming up the clipped toenails in the house occasionally, if necessary. The earlier you start trimming your dog’s nails, the easier this task will be!
TIP: I’ve made it easy to quickly grab the dog nail clippers, dog brush, q-tips, and ear cleaner any time I go out on the back porch. I keep them all in a bin near the back door. And when the dogs see me taking those items outside, they literally beg to be the first one to get “groomed”. They love this one-on-one time. (Actually, I do too.) Here are all of my best DIY dog grooming tips.
#10 – Brush your dog’s teeth.
Since I don’t do this nearly as often as I should (who does, right?), there’s no better time than when you’re stuck at home with the dog to get ‘er done and check it off your list. I have found one thing that makes this chore much easier… I use an electric toothbrush. (This one.) The key is to get an electric toothbrush that has a smallish round (not oval) brush head, because it’s easier to get in and out of a dog’s mouth. Especially around those back teeth — the brush has to get in between the cheek and gums!
TIP: My best tip to make dog teeth brushing easier is to lift your dog up onto a specific portion of your kitchen countertop (my dogs are 50 lbs each). At first, they’re unsure why they’re there and a little nervous — which is why they’re easier to work with. I quickly brush the dog’s teeth, then give them a treat for good behavior before I put them down on the floor. They’ve learned to wait patiently for “the sign” that I’m done — which is a tasty treat.
#11 – Freeze leftovers from the fridge to use in future homemade dog treat recipes.
I just glance through the refrigerator looking for anything that I’m about ready to toss out that could actually be frozen and given to my dogs later as treats — like leftover:
- Cottage cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Cream cheese
- Pasta noodles
I usually just pour whatever I have directly into ice cube trays, let it freeze overnight, then pop the flavored cubes out, and put them in freezer bags for long term storage. For solid foods like fruits, veggies, meats, etc, I use the blender to puree them first (just like you do with homemade baby food) before pouring into ice cube trays for freezing.
They also make skinny ice cube trays (for freezing ice to put inside water bottles) — these are great for inserting frozen goodies into your dog’s Kong toys!
TIP: I have a list that shows you human food that is safe for dogs to eat …and what is not safe.
#12 – Blow bubbles with your dog outside.
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go outside. Blowing bubbles seems to be a fun (and super simple) activity for my dogs when they’re bored. Try blowing some bubbles and see how your dog reacts to them. It’s a cheap and easy way to pass the time!
Some dogs like to chase the bubbles and try to catch them. Some dogs like to bite at the bubbles and try to eat them. And some just enjoy watching the bubbles appear, then disappear.
TIP: Yes, they actually have bubbles for dogs that you can buy. You know… bacon-scented and peanut butter-scented ones! But I just buy cheap ones from the kids aisle in department stores or make bubbles myself. (This kid-friendly and dog-friendly bubble machine looks like a fun idea… if it weren’t so darn expensive!)
#13 – Clean your dog’s ears.
This is a DIY dog grooming task that hardly takes any time at all to do. It’s just tricky sometimes to get the dog to sit still when they know you’re gonna look inside their ears.
TIP: To make it easier, I recommend putting your dog on the kitchen countertop (like I mentioned with dog teeth brushing above) — and use these steps to clean your dog’s ears. But since I do this more frequently than brushing my dogs’ teeth, I keep cotton balls, q-tips, and dog ear cleaner in the bin by the back door — so it’s easy to grab anytime I’m doing “outdoor grooming” on the porch. My dogs are used to having their ears cleaned out there now.
#14 – Trim your dog’s fur where necessary.
The part of the body where I usually trim my dogs’ fur the most is around their paws. I just like the look of a well-manicured dog paw. The nails shouldn’t be too long… and the fur shouldn’t be too scraggly.
I also trim around my dogs’ ears sometimes — because the fur there on one of my dogs tends to get slightly matted there.
Lastly, I do what they call a “sanitary trim” twice a year or so on both dogs. This just keeps any furry areas back there from being in direct line of the poop chute and getting smeared with feces. If you keep the area relatively clear of long hair, no one will ever know when your dog has popped a squat.
TIP: Here’s what you need to know about hairy dog paws and how to trim the fur around your dog’s paws. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I like to use a pair of mustache scissors — bigger than manicure scissors but smaller than regular hair cutting scissors.
#15 – Give your dog a bath. (Or at least a spray with no-rinse dog shampoo / odor eliminator).
I love Love LOVE this stuff! It smells so amazing — and the great scent lasts on my dogs for a day or two. I usually use it right before visitors are coming over (just pump a few sprays here & there on each dog, that’s it) or after they’ve been running outside and they smell like “dog”.
You don’t want to give your dog a bath too often, because it strips the natural oils from their coat and dries out their skin. (Trust me… from my days working at a vet, I know that skin issues are the last thing you want to deal with!)
So I usually reserve baths for those days when my dogs have gotten muddy in the backyard playing and running through our black mulch. (Yes, it looks great — but the black color transfers from dog paws onto the carpet and hardwood floor way too easily. Worse than that, once it’s completely dry, it’s like we have 10x the amount of black dust inside our house!)
TIP: After decades of bathing my dogs in the bathtub (usually the guest tub in all the houses we’ve lived in), this is the year I switched to bathing my dogs in our walk-in shower. I switched out the showerhead for one with a 5-foot detachable hose — and now I can clean my dogs and my glass shower doors and walls with ease! (I use this Lavender and Chamomile 4-in-1 dog shampoo — it smells ah-mazing.)
#16 – Shake out all of decorative pillows on furniture throughout the house.
Chances are very good that all of your decorative pillows have accumulated some dog fur since they were last shook out — which was probably the last time you had cabin fever, found yourself stuck at home on a sunny day, or started your spring cleaning rituals.
TIP: My all-time favorite decorative pillow is this one that says, “No outfit is complete without dog hair!”
#17 – Clean the baseboards and all of the recessed ledges in the wainscoting on the walls.
We have wainscoting (with lots of angles and ridges!) covering the bottom 3 feet of every wall on our first floor.
Did I mention that all of the trim in our house is bright white? And that the dust particles from our mulch outside that the dogs love to play in is black?
Ugh… the price we pay for things to “look good”.
TIP: These are the best ways to clean baseboards and the best products to use — according to someone who cleans houses for a living (obviously, not me).
#18 – Sew all of the stuffed dog toys that have holes in them.
When you’re stuck at home is the perfect time to do the chores that you tend to put off until absolutely necessary. For me, it’s sewing all of the ripped dog toys.
- Do you sew the plush toy with dried on dog drool and who knows what else before you wash it?
- Or, do you wash the plush toy first and risk even more of the stuff coming out in the washing machine?
I usually choose the first option. It’s just easier. Once and done. Then, I toss it into the washing machine for a good cleaning.
Why do I keep stuffed dog toys with holes in them in the first place? Because I want the toys I spend good money on to last. That’s why I don’t let my dogs chew away on plush toys. The plushies are the toys that are meant to be loved on and comforted with. They’re the toys my dogs use for self-soothing whenever they’re anxious (like during a thunderstorm) or excited (if visitors are here).
TIP: Believe it or not, my dogs actually know the difference between which toys they can chew freely on and which ones they can’t. It just took a lot of repetition from me in those early days to teach them, that’s all.
#19 – Make DIY dog toys with leftover things from around the house.
Personally, I’ve found lots of clever ways to combine:
- Old clothes (jeans, t-shirts, fleece blankets — which I save for just this reason… and for rags)
- Old squeakers (that came out of dog toys they chewed up)
- Old dog toys (that have holes that are meant to be there, or other “openings” in them)
…to make a “new” dog toy!
For example, I’ve ripped old denim jeans into long strips and tied a strip or two to the handle of a dog toy (or through an opening on a dog toy). Just tie a tight knot, and it will stay in place. My dogs love to “fling” their toys around. So for toys that don’t have anything to grab onto, I add this — and now they can fling ’em!
TIP: Here’s everything you could possibly want to know about dog snuffle mats.
#20 – Play catch (or your dog’s favorite game).
I’m kind of a lazy dog mom in terms of interactive playtime with my dogs. But I’ve found that I’ll do something longer if I can be seated while I’m doing it. Sometimes I’ll play fetch for hours with the dogs using a tennis ball launcher!
For playing catch in the house, there are 2 dog balls that we like the best:
- Zogoflex durable dog ball – this is SUPER bouncy and SUPER indestructible
- Splash bombs – these are extremely soft and squish, especially when they’re wet (which we rarely use them that way… unless you count all the dog drool that does make them a little squishy after a long play session).
If you’re stuck at home for awhile, a simple game of fetch with your dog will help pass the time — and it will definitely make your dog’s day!
TIP: We have pages and pages of fun dog toys, games, and activities on this site that you can enjoy with your dog. Pick one, and have FUN!
#21 – Rotate your dog’s toys, so they have “new” toys to play with.
One of the best dog toy tips I have for dog owners is to buy all the dog toys you want (well, within reason), but only let your dog play with a handful of them at a time! Seriously, it’s a common practice that parents do with children’s toys — and I’ve found that it works for dogs’ toys as well!
The idea is your dog only has access to the same 5 toys for a week… or longer. All the rest of the dog toys are put away in storage (or, in my case, a big Rubbermaid bin in the spare bedroom). Then, once you notice 2 days in a row that your dog is no longer playing with any of their toys, it’s time to rotate those 5 toys for 5 completely different toys from your stash.
It really works! Every time you bring out 5 different toys, it’s just like Christmas to your dog. They become completely fascinated by their “new” toys.
TIP: Did you know that dogs prefer toys that are blue or yellow? Yep! So that’s what I always buy whenever I’m given a choice of colors with dog toys.
#22 – Bring out some interactive dog toys.
Interactive dog toys are multi-purpose toys that keep your dog from getting bored, while challenging their mind and problem-solving abilities at the same time. There’s no better time to break these out than when you’re stuck at home bored!
I include a few of these in the dog toy rotation method mentioned above. But my dogs generally get these more often than a “regular” dog toy — because they love ’em. (And these types of toys tend to keep the dogs busy for longer periods of time.)
TIP: The Bristly Brushing Stick is an interactive dog toy that’s also a toothbrush for dogs. So, if you don’t want to brush your dog’s teeth all the time, get them a Bristly instead!
#23 – Make homemade dog treats from scratch.
I’m definitely no Julia Child in the kitchen — but I do like to make homemade dog treats for my pups once in awhile.
One thing’s for sure… any dog recipe that you find on this site is easy, involves very few ingredients. And those ingredients are typically in everyone’s pantry already. I just don’t have the patience for anything that’s too time-consuming or too involved.
By the way, the same is true with my own home cooking… which I do fairly frequently. Eight ingredients or less baby! That’s my motto for cooking at home. (For dog treats, it’s usually 4 ingredients or less.)
TIP: Here are all of our favorite homemade dog treat recipes.
#24 – Teach your dog a new trick.
A dog can never know too many tricks!
I have my go-to’s that I tend to teach all of our dogs (like how to pray, be shy, find the TV remote, and get the mail).
But if I were to pick one to start with right away, it would be teach your dog how to do a full body “shake”. Why? Because it comes in handy all throughout your dog’s life — especially after a bath, and before coming in the house when it’s been raining!
TIP: Here are 101 dog tricks and how to teach them to your dog.
#25 – Teach your dog basic commands (for good manners… and for safety reasons).
Of course, before you teach your dog a new “trick,” you want to make sure they have all of the basic dog commands down first. Because dog tricks are purely for entertainment purposes — but dog commands could actually save your dog’s life.
This isn’t a joke. If your dog ever gets loose (or lost) or winds up smack dab in the middle of some dangerous situation… the way your dog responds to “sit”, “stay” “lie down” “leave it” and “come” and “okay” could ultimately determine whether you and your dog live happily ever after together, or not.
TIP: Here’s how to teach an 8-week-old puppy basic dog commands. If puppies with short attention spans can learn these commands easily, then your dog can too — regardless of their age!
The Bottom Line
When you’re stuck at home, you can basically do anything you want to do (that you are physically capable of doing, anyway).
The question is… What could you do that crosses something off your to-do list?
And since you have a dog… What could you do that involves your dog as well?
Personally, these are the 2 areas where my mind usually goes first:
- I’m always on the hunt to find new ways to save money on stuff for the dog (dog treats, dog food, dog toys, dog beds, dog grooming items, etc).
- I’m always looking for clever ways to re-organize all of the dog’s gear and supplies. (For example, this is how I organized all of the dog treats and dog food in our house.)
…Otherwise, I don’t feel productive — like I’m making good use of my time — unless I’m checking something off my ToDo List. Is that you, too?
So, during times like these, when you’re stuck at home and experiencing cabin fever for whatever reason, I would encourage you to do things that will ultimately:
- Check items off your ToDo List
- Help you get a little more organized
- Save you a little money along the way
I hope that I’ve given you some fun ways to do each of those things while spending good quality time with your dog at the same time!
If this post was helpful, and you found at least one new thing for you and your dog to do together when you’re stuck at home, it would mean the world to me if you would share it with others:
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn’t think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I’ve always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I’ve been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what’s ‘normal’ and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I’m not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I’ve written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site! Many of them have upwards of 200K shares.