Indoor Agility Obstacle Course for Dogs

During dark winter and rainy days, pep up your pup with these tips for dog agility at home.
By The Bark Editors, January 2021
indoor agility course for dogs

If you’ve got a dog like mine, getting them out of the house during the cold winter months is tough. On rainy days? Forget about it. They’ll look at you with pleading eyes while hunkering down for fear they might melt.

Once I eventually get them outside, they do their business and run right back inside. So, during the winter months, in order to keep my dog (and myself) from going stir crazy, I’ve learned a few indoor agility ideas from my fellow dog lovers.

Here are some strategies I have to keep the dogs busy while the rain and cold keep them indoors. 

Indoor Obstacle Course

When it comes to rainy day fun, you work with what you got. Get creative. Start by creating a course that works in your home safely—tunnel through a cardboard box, jump around pillows, and jump through a hula hoop. It’s important to start slowly, adding one obstacle at a time, until you can safely build up to five or six steps.

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At my house, for our obstacle course, we typically use a few items:

  • Old couch cushions: We’ve kept a set of 6 (rather large) cushions from a previous IKEA couch. We use these for everything for both our kids and dogs. They make great tunnels and landing pads because they are large and sturdy.
  • Cardboard boxes: Same idea with these, the big ones are great for tunnels, and the small ones are perfect for jumping over for our two small dogs.
  • Poofs: When we feel like adding a bit of challenge, we add in a poof. Floor poofs are small floor pillows that can be used as a stool. They’re smaller than the couch cushions, so they are a bit more difficult to land on.

Again, use what you have—pillows and rolled-up blankets work well too. You can use this time to help your dog explore new surfaces and textures, think rough doormats, aluminum foil, silicone mats, or even walking across cardboard.

Once you’ve set up some obstacles, start at the beginning. You can encourage your dog with a treat by leading them through the exercise. Just as with any training, start slow, and once it clicks, you can add in a verbal cue. Above all else, remember to have fun and celebrate every success with a treat!

Indoor Boot Camp

If your dog is not one for agility, consider doing a basic reinforcement boot camp. Don’t waste the opportunity. Indoor training is the perfect time to shore up your dog’s skills by practicing important behavior cues like come, stay and leave it.

Toy Search

Other fun indoor games include canine nose and hide & seek, but what if we mix it up a bit? Try doing a variant on these with the game toy search.

  • Start with your dog in the sit position. 
  • Next, place a toy on the floor. 
  • Once you release your dog, reward them for getting the toy.

Do this a few more times before adding in a verbal cue. With a bit of practice, your dog will be able to search for toys farther away and even under other objects. 

Photo: iStock