11 Fun Indoor Things to Do With Your Malshi

Full dog portrait

The Malshi is an adorable mix between a maltese and shih tzu. The fluffy, curly haired small dog is a happy, intelligent breed that makes great companions for older adults and families. The malshi weighs in at only 6 to 12 pounds tops on average, making them part of the toy breed of small dogs. The malshi is an outgoing dog breed with plenty of energy when they’re puppies. But because of their small size, they require less exercise than large dogs and are quite content indoors. Malshis make great dogs for pet owners who live in apartments or smaller living quarters. Keeping a malshi dog entertained indoors is easy if they receive enough love and attention. Read on to learn about fun indoor activities you can do with your malshi puppy and why they’ll love them.

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix black and white puppy sitting on a rug

11 Fun Indoor Things to Do With Your Malshi

The malshi dog breed is an ideal indoor dog. Their small size means they require less energy and their finicky temperament makes them less tolerable to inclement weather. Basically, don’t try to get your malshi outside when it’s wet or cold. You won’t get very far. Because they prefer to be indoors, you’ll need to find ways to provide mental stimulation through indoor activities. Below are 11 fun indoor activities to do with your malshi that will keep them entertained for hours.

1. Teach Them New Tricks

The malshi is an intelligent dog breed that likes a good mental challenge. Teaching them tricks like “Shake”, “Speak”, and “Sit” is only the threshold of what a malshi is capable of. Most dogs can learn a trick or two if there is positive reinforcement involved, and by “positive reinforcement” we mean treats. Every dog is willing to learn something new when there is a dog biscuit in it for them. Spend time with your malshi teaching them something new. Many dog trainers incorporate the use of a clicker to teach dogs new tricks or obedience skills. There are plenty of resources available online and in books that teach you, the pet owner, how to use a clicker to train your malshi. Dog training will be a fun and interesting challenge for both you and your pup. Remember that every dog is different and learns at a different pace. It may take some time before your malshi gets a hang of new tricks. But once they do, don’t be surprised if you want to parade them around dog shows like a prize winner.

Adorable multicolored Shih tzu Maltese cross sitting on chair side-on with window and red blanket background

2.  Send Them on a Treat Hunt

If your fur baby has been an extra good boy or girl, they deserve a treat. Instead of just giving them a treat, make them work for it. Nose work games are a fun way to keep your dog stimulated indoors. They can use their biggest asset, their nose, to sniff out dog treats that you’ve hidden around the house. A dog’s nose is incredibly powerful. They rely heavily on their nose for survival; it’s how they navigate their surroundings. Your malshi may not get the chance to use their nose the way they would have in the wild thousands of years ago. Indoor dogs don’t have to hunt for dog food after all. Letting your malshi sniff out their “prey” will tap into their baser instincts. To set the game up, have your malshi sit in the center of the room and watch you hide treats around the room. Once you give them the go ahead, they can then use their nose to sniff out the treats they watched you hide. After they’ve got the hang of the game, have them wait in a separate room while you hide the treats. Now they will have to rely on their nose even more to find the treats. It will present more of a challenge and keep them busy for longer.

3. Play Tug of War

Small dogs love playing tug of war. It likely has something to do with their hunting instincts or the way they would lie with their brothers and sisters when they were puppies. Playing tug of war with your malshi with a stuffed animal or rope toy is a great way to exercise them indoors. Tug of war is both mentally and physically stimulating for your malshi. They love the back and forth and the victory of successfully tugging the toy from your grasp. Tug of war does not encourage aggressiveness in your malshi. It’s quite the opposite. Playing tug of war with your pup has been shown to make dogs more obedient and have more confidence. And letting them win won’t ruin the dominance dynamic between you and your dog. The game will just be more fun for them when you let them win occasionally. If you want to discourage any sign of aggressiveness, make sure the game stops if their teeth touch your hand. That will let your malshi know that biting or aggressiveness is off limits. Tug of war is a great way to exercise and play with your dog in small indoor spaces.

little white dog with toy in its mouth

4. Play Hide and Seek

The malshi is a playful breed that is ready to play at every minute. They love to play with their humans just as much as they like to play with other dogs. Hide and seek is a fun and interactive game to play with your malshi when you’re stuck indoors. Hide and seek with your malshi works like the hide and seek game you played as a kid. Have your malshi wait in a separate room while you find a hiding place elsewhere. When you’re sufficiently hidden, call your malshi to come and find you. It will be both fun and mentally stimulating for them to search for you in the house. They’ll love the surprise of finding you. And if you want to play a prank on your malshi, you could jump out of your hiding place to surprise them. But make sure your malshi isn’t too skittish, you don’t want to scare them. If your pet is prone to separation anxiety, hide and seek might not be the best game to play with them. Instead, you can do a more simplified version of the game. Have them watch you as you duck behind a counter or sofa out of their view. They will know you are still in the room with them but will still have fun “finding” you.

5. Set Up a Doggie Play Date

Do you have friends or family members with small dogs? Set up a doggie play date for your dog and their pups. Dogs love to play together (if they get along) and playing will help keep them occupied. They won’t need to go outside for exercise when they have another dog to romp around with. They can tug, chew, and chase all throughout the house without getting their paws or fur dirty like they would in the mud outside. A doggie playdate is especially great for dogs who are the sole pet in the house. Dogs are social animals and need to socialize with other dogs from time to time. Just be sure your house or apartment is doggie playdate proof. Make sure you put away anything you don’t want jumped on, slobbered on, or pushed over. Malshi pups might be lap dogs, but they can get quite frisky. You’d be surprised at the damage even a small dog can do.

Black malshi sitting on windowsill

6. Indoor Digging Pit

Digging comes naturally to malshi dogs and dogs of any breed. Their ancestor, the wolf, dig when going after small woodland prey that burrow in the ground. Digging comes naturally to dogs, whether they know why they’re doing it or not. Some dogs use digging to amuse themselves while others do it to bury their treats. Regardless, dogs like to dig, and digging is an entertaining activity that helps your pup burn off energy. If you and your pooch are stuck indoors, digging is still an option. No, you don’t have any dirt or grass for them to dig through, but you don’t need it. Instead, you can set up a pile of blankets, pillow, or other miscellaneous soft objects. Your malshi will have just as much fun digging through a pile of clothes as they would digging outside. To make their digging game more exciting, hide a treat or toy underneath the pile. It will give them more motivation to get to the bottom of the pile. Or if you have room, you can buy an inflatable kiddie pool and fill it with plastic balls. Your malshi will have the time of their life digging through their favorite fetch toy. It’s the perfect indoor activity for energetic  pups entertained in a smaller space.

 7. Try a Flirt Pole

Is your dog ready to play but you’re exhausted after a long day’s work? If you have a flirt pole, you can play with your pup while seated on the couch enjoying a nice glass of wine. What is a flirt pole you ask? A flirt pole is a toy for small dogs that does the playing for you. It is basically a fishing pole with a dog toy attached to it. You can cast the dog toy out in the living room and let your malshi chase it while you swing it back and forth. If you want to make your malshi jump for it, reel the toy in and tease them from above their head. Flirt poles allow you to play with your dog without you having to put in much effort. Your malshi will have a ball playing chase with the pole. Fortunately, you can use a flirt pole in small spaces making it an ideal indoor activity. You can make a flirt pole yourself with a fishing pole or buy one specifically designed for use with dog toys. It’s a versatile toy that can be used indoors as well as outdoors. Flirt poles make a great toy for an elderly dog owner who has limited mobility. Or for lazy dog owners who want to play with their malshi but don’t want to get up off the couch.

8. Make Homemade Dog Treats

Commercial dog treats are not always the best for your malshi. Like human foods, processed or commercialized dog treats can contain ingredients that aren’t great for a dog’s health. Making your own dog treats at home allows you to control what ingredients go into their treats. There are plenty of recipes for homemade dog treats that use healthy, simple, and natural ingredients that will benefit your malshi’s health. Ingredients like pumpkin, peanut butter, and oats contain important vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your dog needs to maintain a healthy teeth, eyes, and coat. Making homemade dog treats is a fun way to be creative at home when you and your dog are stuck indoors. And while your malshi won’t get to be an active participant in the making of their treats, they will certainly reap the rewards. At the very least you will have a sidekick with you in the kitchen during the whole process. Dogs know when something is cooking, especially if it’s cooking for them.

homemade dog treats

9. Give Your Pup a Doggie Massage

Humans aren’t the only ones who need a little R&R every now and then. Massaging your dog reaps the same benefits for them as massages do for you. Learning how to give your malshi a massage is a great skill to learn. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), massaging your dog can help to reduce anxiety, improve circulation, and soothe arthritis pain. A nice massage can feel good for any dog regardless of their age. But it will be most beneficial for elderly dogs who may be experiencing aches and pains related to age. It could also help dogs who have joint issues (like arthritis) or who have been particularly active recently. Giving your malshi a massage will feel good for them while at the same time be a bonding moment for you both. Dogs benefit from human touch as much as we benefit from petting them. When we pet our dogs, both us and our dogs release the “love hormone” known as oxytocin. Oxytocin is a brain chemical that encourages bonding and feelings of love and warmth. Giving your fur baby a massage will produce the “love hormone” effect in both of you.

10. Play a Game of Chase

Let’s face it, most of us could use more exercise. The average American leads a sedentary lifestyle and that unfortunately passes down onto our pets. If you and your malshi pup are getting a bit too plump, you’ll both benefit from a game of chase. How do you play chase? Simple, you and your dog chase each other. Chase will get you both up and moving which is beneficial if you are stuck indoors and more tempted to chow down on chips and dog treats in front of the TV. Playing chase indoors may be more challenging if you live in smaller quarters. However, don’t underestimate how much of a sweat you will work up running around in circles in your living room. Get your malshi fired up by running after them in a playful mood. They will understand instantly what’s happening and join in the fun.

 11. Catch Up on Grooming

Being stuck indoors is a good opportunity to catch up on simple tasks like grooming. Not many dogs enjoy having their nails trimmed, teeth brushed, or fur combed through. But the malshi breed especially needs consistent grooming because of their fur type. Both the maltese and shih tzu breeds have long, curly hair that can quickly become unruly. The hair can grow over your malshi’s eyes and mouth, which is understandably irritating for you pup. Keeping your malshi’s fur maintained is crucial to their comfort level. If your malshi doesn’t enjoy being groomed, entice them with treats. Most dogs will sit through anything if they know there is food involved. Or start grooming after giving your pup a nice doggie massage. They will be more relaxed after the massage and may be more inclined to sit still while you work on their nails, hair, and teeth.

Closeup of dog's face as it is bathed by its owner

Final Thoughts

Staying indoors with your pup doesn’t have to be boring. Fortunately, the malshi dog breed is content being an indoor dog for the most part. It doesn’t take much room to keep them entertained and exercised. If you and your malshi pup are looking for fun things to do indoors, try a few ideas from this list. It will give both of you a chance to break out of your normal indoor routine. You may benefit equally as much from playing indoor games with your malshi. Being indoors doesn’t have to suck, especially when you have a malshi.

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