You can entertain your puppy all day with exercise, games, training, and maybe even a second puppy! Remember to leave lots of downtime, so your puppy doesn’t get over-tired. Puppies sleep for an average of 18-20 hours each day, so they only need activity for around 4-6 hours.
In this article, I’ll discuss 20 ways to entertain your puppy all day. These ideas are sure to inspire you to have some fun adventures with your pup, no matter what age or breed they are!
1. Take them for Daily Walks
A great way to exercise a dog of any age is to take them for walks! However, it is important not to over-exercise your puppy.
If you’re unsure how much exercise your puppy needs, research their age and breed or ask your veterinarian.
It’s best to take a puppy on a few short walks daily, rather than one longer one. As they age, they will be able to walk for longer stretches of time.
Most of the walks you take with a young puppy will probably be “free walks,” or walks in which they get some free time to sniff, perhaps wander off the sidewalk, and enjoy themselves—in contrast to training walks which are more rigid.
2. Work on Leash Training
Your puppy needs to learn how to walk on a leash without pulling, especially if they’re a large dog that can tug you off your feet!
A puppy constantly tugging on their leash puts a lot of pressure on their neck when wearing a collar, so look into harnesses while leash training if your puppy pulls often.
Your puppy should only wear their harness while on leash, not around the house. Make sure the harness fits well and is comfortable for your pup to wear.
Remember to leash train your puppy when they’re at the right energy level. A hyper puppy will have too much energy and likely won’t focus enough for training.
Try exercising your puppy before training and giving them time to calm down before you begin.
3. Play Fetch in the Yard
One of the easiest ways to tire a puppy out is by playing fetch! It’s usually best to play outside in a fenced yard, but indoors can work too for small breeds.
A family member once tried to play fetch indoors with my black Labrador, Charlie—the ball bounced out of his mouth and flew onto the counter, knocking things over in its path! I wouldn’t recommend trying to play indoors with large breeds.
There are so many ways to play fetch—you can toss a ball or roll it on the ground. Try playing fetch with balls, flying disks, or your puppy’s favorite chew toy.
At first, your puppy will likely leave the toy across the yard for you to fetch if you want it back. Charlie used to love this!
Once your puppy knows recall, you can train them to bring the toy back and drop it at your feet. This makes fetch much easier and less tiring for you.
4. Chase them Around
Some puppies love to be chased, or to chase you! Try crawling after your puppy as if you’re going to grab them or playfully running at them.
Of course, be careful not to scare your puppy. While some will love this game, others might feel afraid if you run or stomp toward them.
Never put your face near your puppy while playing this game, as you might be bitten if your puppy is afraid or gets too into the roughhousing.
If your puppy is afraid, choose another game to play instead.
5. Play Hide and Seek
There are three forms of hide and seek you can play with your puppy:
- Regular hide and seek: Have someone hold onto your puppy or tell them to “stay” while you hide with a treat in hand. Then tell them to come find you and watch them run around the house searching!
- With treats: Hide treats around the room and encourage your puppy to find them! Start easy and up the difficulty as you go.
- With toys: If your puppy knows the names of their toys, try hiding one and seeing if they can find it!
Once your puppy has the hang of these games, you can up the challenge in a few ways. Try:
- Playing outside where there are more distractions and smells.
- Training your puppy tricks related to the game such as “stay,” “come,” and “find.”
- Hiding yourself or toys without treats so that there is less scent to follow.
6. Buy Toys they can Play with Independently
You can’t always engage with your puppy directly, no matter how much you may want to! That’s okay, though—it’s important for them to learn how to play on their own.
Provide them with toys they can play with independently, such as chew toys, puzzle toys, or a KONG toy filled with treats.
They can use these while you’re busy or away from home.
Always make sure there are no removable parts that your puppy can choke on, and take toys away if your puppy breaks them.
If your pup is a strong chewer, you might want to limit their toys to supervised play only.
7. Adopt a Second Puppy
A second puppy may seem like double the time spent entertaining your pup, but this isn’t actually true! Not only can you do many activities with both puppies at once, but they can also entertain one another.
Dogs are very social animals, and they do well with another dog in the household. Your puppies can play, socialize, and even teach one another things like bite inhibition, manners, and tricks.
Of course, two puppies is still a lot in terms of responsibility and cost. Only you know if this option is right for you.
8. Socialize your Puppy
Puppies need to be socialized to all sorts of new experiences. These include:
- People, such as children or people wearing hats
- Places, such as the dog park or a pet store
- Objects, such as their crate or the vacuum
- Experiences, such as being in crowds, being groomed, or being alone
Pick one or two new things today that your puppy can experience!
Take socialization slowly so that your puppy isn’t overwhelmed. There’s a big world out there, and seeing it all at once could be very overstimulating!
Puppies who are well-socialized tend to be friendlier, less anxious, and more confident in new situations.
The experiences your puppy can have are endless, so take your time with it and enjoy some fun adventures with your pup!
Try focusing on the things your puppy will experience most often first, such as brushing their teeth, having their paws handled, and meeting new people.
9. Go to a Dog Park
Sometimes we all need a change of scenery—you and your puppy included!
This is especially fun if you don’t have a yard or your back yard is small.
High-energy pups will also love playing in the dog park for the exercise.
Bring along toys to play with, a bowl of water in case they get thirsty, and some poop bags to keep the park clean.
10. Train New Tricks
Puppies love learning new things, and it’s rewarding to see them learn! If you have some extra time today, try teaching your puppy some new tricks.
Exercise them first, then start a training session when they’re calm. Keep training sessions short and try to end on a positive note whenever possible!
Keep lots of treats on hand to reward your puppy for getting it right.
If you’ve run out of ideas when it comes to tricks and your puppy already knows the basics, here are some fun ones to try:
- Putting away their toys
- Opening and closing doors
- Retrieving items such as their food bowl or toy
11. Continue Training Old Tricks
Don’t forget about the tricks you’ve already begun training! Keep them fresh in your puppy’s mind by practicing them frequently.
This way, your puppy is sure to perfect the basics and grow into a well-behaved adult dog.
12. Play Shuffle Games with Treats
There are two ways you can play shuffle games with treats:
- Put a treat in one hand, then shuffle it around behind your back. Have your puppy guess which hand it’s in.
- Line up some cups and place the treat beneath one. Shuffle them around and see if your puppy knows where the treat is at!
Of course, reward your puppy with the treat when they guess correctly.
As you practice this game, your pup will likely get even better at knowing where the treat is each time!
13. Tug of War
Tug of war is another classic that almost all of us have played with our pups at some point! Grab a rope toy or another long toy, and encourage your dog to pull on the other side.
Make sure you don’t pull too hard, especially with small puppies—you could hurt their teeth or jaws.
If you have another puppy or dog, they might also love playing tug of war together!
14. Go for a Swim
In my area, we actually have a center where dogs can go swimming! You can also allow your dog in your own back yard pool if you’d like, or take them to a beach where dogs are allowed in the water.
Personally, I’ve never taken my dog swimming, but he does get a kid’s wading pool that he plays in every summer. It’s the perfect way to allow your puppy to cool off while having lots of fun!
Labradors and other water-loving breeds will especially love this activity. You can even toss a ball or other toys into the water for them to retrieve.
Always supervise pool time to ensure your puppy doesn’t inhale any water or get stuck in the pool.
15. Turn on the Sprinkler
Another of my dog’s favorite summer activities is the sprinkler. I simply turn it on and allow him to run in and out of it.
Especially on a hot day, your puppy will have lots of fun playing in the water! Encourage them into it by tossing toys or treats in that direction.
As with pool time, always supervise your puppy in the sprinkler. Make sure they aren’t inhaling the water or getting it in their ears.
My dog used to roll in the sprinkler, and we had problems with his ears when he was young because of it!
Lastly, remember that not all puppies will love this activity. It’s okay if yours isn’t a fan!
16. Engage their Instincts
All breeds of puppies have different instincts depending on what they were traditionally bred to do.
Herding and hunting dogs love fetch, as it allows them to retrieve something and bring it back to you.
Sighthounds were bred to catch prey in their sights and sprint after it. Some were bred to chase small prey, while others hunted big game like wolves or coyotes. As pets, they love racing around the yard and participating in sports such as agility or lure coursing.
My dog, Charlie, is a Labrador mixed breed. He loves the water! Some Labradors even like to retrieve items from the water such as balls—though he’s never gotten into this in particular.
Though I don’t know what other breeds my rescue pup is mixed with, I have noticed some herding instincts in his behaviors—so I try to engage those as well.
I share this to explain that even rescue puppies of unknown breed can have their instincts engaged; it just might take a little bit more work to find out what they enjoy.
You can also research your puppy’s known breed(s) if you’re unsure what they were bred for.
Lastly, be sure to research any sports you want to train for. Puppies must reach a certain age before they can safely participate in some activities, such as high jumps.
It’s also important, as always, to only use positive reinforcement when training and not to take the competition aspect too seriously—just focus on allowing your puppy to have fun!
17. Practice Recall
You can practice recall with your puppy anytime! Call them to you in the house, before giving them a meal, or when playing in the back yard.
I like to run around my yard with my dog sometimes, calling him to various locations—it’s fun exercise for us both!
An easier way to do this is to have two people stand on opposite sides of a large yard or dog park, and take turns calling your puppy over. This is sure to tire them out and is also excellent practice!
18. Involve them in Everyday Tasks
You can’t neglect your everyday chores and tasks, but they can be difficult to achieve when you have a needy puppy.
Try involving your pup in your everyday activities. For instance, grab a leash and walk them down to the mailbox to check the mail each day.
Teach them to throw away items and pick up toys to help you clean. I’ve had my dog Charlie help me pick up sticks in the yard (although he wasn’t trained for it and mostly ended up carrying the same one, he did feel included!).
If you don’t want to train your puppy, try letting them follow you around the house and speaking to them often.
Charlie loves watching me work, and I’ll often chat to him about what I’m doing, just so that he feels included.
19. Let them Dig
Some puppies love to dig! Of course, we don’t want them to dig in our gardens or even in the grass.
I give my dog a large blanket that he loves to sleep on, but will also dig in and even crawl underneath. He hides his toys and sometimes his treats inside and will “dig” them back up for fun.
Another option is to give your puppy a sandbox outside. Teach them that they can dig there, but not in the rest of the yard.
20. Remember to Leave Time for Naps!
Lastly, remember that puppies need sleep! Puppies sleep an average of 18-20 hours a day, and this is very important for their health.
You might think they’ll sleep when they’re tired, but this might not be the case if you fill their day with too much activity.
Have you ever seen a human toddler who’s tired, overstimulated, but won’t sleep? Puppies can have too much activity too!
Provide your puppy with a place they can go when they’re sleepy or overwhelmed, such as a crate, bed, or even a cozy spot on the couch.
Allow them to have some quiet downtime so that they can relax and nap. Also train them to sleep at bedtime, as this is beneficial to them and you both.
You don’t have to literally occupy them 24/7!
Writer: Katelynn Sobus