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What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?

  • September 5, 2019
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What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?

If you have a Boston Terrier you know that they have boundless energy. And since they are bred to be companion dog’s you won’t find them doing things in the yard for hours on end, they’d much rather be in the house close to their humans. Recently Maggie had an allergy break out and we were confined to the great indoors. Finding things to do became a challenge for a few weeks this summer.

So what indoor games can you I play to keep my Boston Terrier busy? I focused on canine enrichment games that kept their minds actively engaged. My dogs are not trick dogs, and there’s only so much obedience training we can do. What worked best for us were the canine enrichment exercises that were interesting for my two Boston Terriers.

For tools you need items commonly found around the house and a little bit creativity on your part.

What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?

Canine Enrichment

According to Shay Kelly in his book Canine Enrichment is the action of improving the quality of our dog’s life.

There are other definitions out there and we’ve taken this umbrella term to further break it down. here are different levels of enrichment:

  • Physical enrichment: long walks and letting them off leash at the dog beach and getting their run on.
  • Food Enrichment – omg these two LOVE to eat and so they get fed good meals, healthy snacks and chews.
  • Cognitive enrichment – agility, box games, little trick training sessions
  • Sensory enrichment: nose work. Letting them smell to their heart’s desire on walks even if you only go a few blocks or a mile in 45 minutes. And nose work at home.
  • Toy Enrichment: Puzzle games or interactive games
  • Social enrichment – our pack walks that we co-host with @realdogbox which are on three weeks of the month (we take a weekend off) & structured leash walks.

Since this article is focused on games to keep our Boston Terriers busy indoors, we’ll stick to cognitive, sensory and toy enrichment approaches for the purposes of this article.

There are guidelines as you go about what to play with your dog. Focus on the dog’s needs first and always.

We do this through low risk activities in which the dog wants to:

  • Actively participate
  • Giving the dogs something interesting to do
  • Giving them an engaging and fulfilling life
  • Building upon the dog-human relationship
  • Offering an opportunity for a good time
What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?

Natural Behaviors and Using Their Noses

The dog’s nose is the most powerful sense in their body. They see the world through their noses. In fact a blind dog can still function but a dog that cannot smell has the most difficult time functioning in the world.

Not allowing a dog to smell would be like taking young children Disneyland but not letting them see what was going on.

Beyond the Sidewalk

Often times the dogs “go sniff” during walks. But what do you do when you can’t go outdoors. Then you create opportunities for your Boston Terrier to be able to use their nose indoors.

Turn Their Meals Into Puzzles and Scavenger Hunts

If you feed your Boston Terrier kibble you can make meal times fun. Instead of feeding them in their bowls as you normally would you could play games or create scavenger hunts. Different examples would be to spread their emails into smaller containers around the house or use kibble holder puzzle toys.

My two Boston Terriers eat a home cooked meal so unfortunately scavenger hunts with their food doesn’t work too well since their food would make the experience extremely messy.

So I’m not going to cover this topic too much – you can read more about it by purchasing the Canine Enrichment book on Amazon.

Indoor Games With Treats

My two dogs Maggie and Orbit are extremely motivated by treats. They can hear a treat bag rustling from a room away.

And so with a little creativity we’ve come up with the following games.

When designing your own DIY games, remember more food and payout means less frustration.

Make sure you look for signs that your Boston Terrier is enjoying the games and puzzles and not being frustrated by them.

Snuffle Toy Box

I don’t have a snuffle mat. For some reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to decide which one to get on Amazon.

So I looked at their pile of toys and an empty box I had in the garage to dump all the toys in it.

I then sprinkled treats and let my two Boston Terriers forage for the treats.

They’re quite good with their noses so each session was no more than a minute in length.

Three sessions later the girls had found all the treats and we took a break.

Working their noses and a very low level of problem solving tired their brains out and they went down for a ninety minute nap.

Snuffle Towel

The easiest snuffle replacement is to take a towel (maybe right before you do laundry); scatter treats in it, roll it up and let them have fun unrolling it to discover the hidden treats inside.

Snuffle Cabbage Towel

Another game we played was to create a snuffle towel. A very simple approach would be to simply scatter treats on the mat, roll it up on itself and then let your Boston Terrier unroll the towel and eat the treats.

We’ve played this game a few times so I wanted to make it a little bit more challenging.

I took the towel, and started off in one corner and sprinkled treats in it. I then folded and rolled the towel in random ways turning it inside out while still continuing to hide treat in the folds until the end result resembled a poor representation of a towel cabbage.

The girls were pretty happy when given the command to forage and unfold the towel. This one took a little longer and each session lasted them about five minutes.

Shuffling Face Towels

I saw a dog on Instagram play a game where his owner hid the treat under one cup and then the other two cups were empty.

All three cups are upside down and while the dog is watching the owner shuffled the cups around.

I’m sure you’ve seen this game played by street gamblers in a town like Las Vegas

Well my predicament was I had no plastic cups to play this game.

So with a little creativity I pulled out three wash cloths instead.

Step 1, put a treat on the ground and cover it with a colored wash cloth say blue. Give the command so that your dog can uncover the treat under the wash cloth.

Step 2. Take another wash cloth of a different color and add it to this process but only hide the treat under the same blue wash cloth. Before you give your Boston Terrier the command to find the treats, shuffle the towel around.

Step 3. Take a third wash cloth to add to the process yet still only have the treat under the blue wash cloth. As your Boston Terrier watches …. Shuffle towels around and then release them to find the treat.

This requires them to do a little bit of problem solving. And use their noses.


Don’t Throw Your Toilet Paper Rolls Away

Part of the fun when designing your own DIY puzzle games is looking at things around your house and asking your self “Can I turn this into a dog toy?”

Empty toilet paper rolls with holes in them that you make; while folding the ends over can be a novel treat puzzle for dog or Boston Terrier. Best part if they feel like tearing into it or rolling it around can be up to them to figure out.

Pringles Tube with Holes

You can extend this concept to anything that is tubular. Don’t throw your Pringle’s tube right away. Make some holes. Drop some treats in it and let your dog roll it around as a fun DIY treat dispenser.

Yogurt Tub With Holes

Eat Noosa yogurt? Wash it after you’ve eaten the yogurt. Make holes in it and drop treats or kibble. Give it to your pup and let them have some fun as a DIY dog treat puzzle.

Make it easy

Remember to make the treat puzzle easy. The treats or kibble should fall out easily so that your pup doesn’t get frustrated trying to get the treats out.

Stacking Bowls

If you don’t have any tubes find some older plastic containers or bowls. Place a treat in each one. Stack them up. Put it on the floor and let your dog discover treats within each layer.

Tennis Ball and Muffin Trays

This puzzle requires one muffin tray and your Boston Terrier’s favorite toy or dog safe tennis balls.

As your pup is watching. Drop a treat in the muffin tray. Let them eat the treat after you give them the command. Then drop a ball to cover the treat so they have to use their paw or mouth to move the ball off the treat.

Gradually add treats and balls but make it more complex by only hiding treats under some not all of the balls. And see how well your Boston Terrier’s nose can target which balls to remove first to uncover the treats.

What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?

Scatter and Go Find

It’s currently in the high 80s too low 90s in San Diego. Going outside isn’t an option in the middle of the day.

That doesn’t stop me and my Boston Terriers in indoor games that challenge their noses.

A common game you’ll often see are treats being scattered in the yard on a grassy lawn. Upon command the dogs go and find the treats. We’re encouraging the natural behavior they have in using their noses.

When you’re stuck indoors, you can look at your space as just another space to scatter treats to be found.

You can scatter treats that can be easily seen and then treats that they need to go find under furniture or even stuffed in things commonly found around the house like toilet paper rolls.

Digging and Foraging

We don’t have a lot of “interactive” toys in our home but we do have a few that we like.

One of them is made by iFetch and is called the iDig.

There are pocket flaps and layers so that you can hide treats inside it.

Once you’re ready you can cue your Boston Terrier to forage and “dig” for their treats. The idea is that not only do they have to use their nose to sniff, they are now allowed to “dig” indoors without destroying your garden or any potted plants.

Chews not Shoes for Your Boston Terrier

Allowing your Boston Terrier to chew will keep them away from your shoes. Chewing releases endorphins into their brains and literally gives them a high level of positive emotions after a chew session.

We’re not fans of artificial chews. We prefer to give our two Boston Terriers Kongs filled with part of their meals, or edible chews like lamb or pig ears and even pig trotters.

There’s even a service that allows you to have chews delivered to your door. You’ll get variety in every box.

My two Boston Terriers not only get the mental benefits associated with chewing it also helps to keep their teeth clean.

What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?

Calm Protocol

This protocol is a set of exercises where you systematically teach your Boston Terrier to relax in a sit or a down even when there are weird things going on around them.

You then use food to capture a dog’s calmness.

This is a fun set of exercises to try at home and outdoors in public spaces. You can learn more by visiting this link.

Box Games

Most of us today order items from Amazon. Don’t throw those boxes away – they can be used as props for box games.

The goal of the box games is to reward independent thought from your dog.

It’s better explained by a trainer so to learn more about how to play this game read this article.

101 Things to Do with a Box | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Maggie and Orbit both LOVE this protocol and now easily are able to interact with it.

Another resource if you like Instagram is to look up a trainer called @thehikerpup

In her stories you will find highlights of different training exercises you can play with your dog.

It’s so amusing to me to see how her dogs calmly work through her games while my two Spazzy Boston Terriers have this energy where they are literally still bouncing off the walls.

What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?

Do More With Your Dog

A friend recently turned me onto “Do More With Your Dog” who has a facebook page and group centered around trick training. We’re not quite at that level yet but if you are ready to pursue this with your own Boston Terrier then you can find their group HERE.

The Puppr School

For those that prefer to get prompts on their phone, there are apps like @thepupprschool where you can go through a series of lessons teaching your dog fun things like crawl or jump through hoops.

In Conclusion

Your Boston Terrier’s lives are more interesting when they are using their minds.

Creating small mini enrichment exercises or training games do not need to take more than 10 minutes a day. In fact you may find the average length o time is no more than five minutes a day.

It’s a great way for your dogs to avoid boredom and for the interactive games another opportunity for you to bond.

If you’re not able to keep track of time … another way to approach it is with a set number of treats. For example I will take treats that my two Boston Terriers have and it up into twenty smaller pieces. We train or play until those treats are gone.

And don’t forget the simple act of play.  Play allow you to engage and connect with your dog.   A simple fun of indoor fetch or tug goes a long way.

We hope you enjoyed this article. And if you did please consider pinning it to one of your Pinterest boards.

If you play any of these games, tag us on your Instagrams stories. We can be found under our handle: @maggielovesorbit

Do something awesome with your dog today!

More Reading:

I’ve written quite a few articles about Boston Terriers.  You might enjoy reading these two in regards to training:

How To Make Your Boston Terrier Come Back To You When You Call Them

How My Reactive Dogs is Being Rehabilitated Back To Her Friendlier Version of Herself

What Indoor Games Can I Play to Keep my Boston Terrier Busy?


Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello my name is Hannah and I dance with my dogs.  A self proclaimed Boston Terrier addict, (aka breed advocate) I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is my sensitive flower.  Blow on her skin wrong (ok I might be exaggerating) and she breaks out in a rash.

You won’t read about cats here… but you will get a fairly large dosage of articles dedicated to the Boston Terrier.    Read more about us. 

By, September 5, 2019
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