Exercising your dog is not only important for their physical health but their mental health, too. Giving your dog a daily workout provides them with enrichment, reduces behavioural issues, and keeps them in good shape.
When you think of exercising your dog, you normally imagine the great outdoors: walks, jogging, swimming, and more. However, doing these activities aren’t always possible, so sometimes you’ll need to exercise your dog indoors.
Activities that don’t involve being in a park or an outside area might seem a little limited, but there are plenty of exercises you can do inside with your dog.
To help get you started, here are some exercises you can try with your dog to keep them entertained and active!
Hide & Seek
Playing hide and seek with your dog is a really fun game, especially if you have children as then the entire family can get involved. All you need to do is hide somewhere in your house and call your dog by their name. When your dog finds you, reward them with a tasty treat.
Not only will this activity provide your dog with mental stimulation, but it’ll give them a good workout!
Dogs have a natural instinct to hunt, so setting up a scavenger hunt is an excellent way to put your dog’s hunting instincts to good use. Simply place treats or pieces of your dog’s normal food in various areas around your house so your dog can sniff them out.
Start off easy at first by putting the bits of food in places your dog can easily find them. Once your dog gets quicker and better at finding things, then you can ramp up the difficulty a little by hiding them in more challenging areas.
Although obstacle courses are typically set up outside, you can also prepare them inside to mentally and physically challenge your dog. You don’t need any fancy equipment, simply look around your house for items or objects you can use. These might include cushions, chairs, and blankets.
You could cut a hole in the bottom of a large cardboard box to create a makeshift tunnel or even stack up some books to make a hurdle. There are a lot of household objects you can use in an obstacle course for your dog, so get creative.
To help encourage and direct your dog through the obstacle course, use treats as food is the best motivator!
Tug-of-War & Fetch Games
While these sorts of activities are normally played outside, you can also play them inside provided you have enough space. Better yet, if you have access to an enclosed garden, then playing tug-of-war or fetch is a fantastic way to soak up some sun and keep your dog active!
You can participate in a game of fetch by racing your dog to retrieve the toy rather than simply watching them run after it. This is sure to get your dog excited and their tail wagging!
Just make sure you pick a soft toy or ball, so your dog doesn’t accidentally break any household items.
Playing tug-of-war is a good bonding game that’s also incredibly fun for both parties involved. You don’t even need any special equipment other than a rope or an old towel.
However, it’s important to note that tug-of-war can cause aggressive tendencies in some dogs. With this in mind, you should only participate in the activity if you and your dog already have a high level of trust for one another.
Puzzle Toys & Food Dispensing Toys
Two more great methods for making your dog work for their food are puzzle toys and food-dispensing toys. Both of these toys contain small holes that you can shove treats or bits of food inside. Your dog will then have to work out how to receive the snacks.
Most brands are dishwasher safe so you can clean them between uses. Puzzle toys typically come with different difficulty settings so you can make them more challenging for your dog.
Both puzzle toys and food dispensing toys offer enrichment for your dog as well as a good physical workout.
Although you might not think it, a treadmill is a fantastic way to give your dog some exercise indoors. If your dog has never used a treadmill before, then you’ll have to introduce them to the machine slowly.
You can start by placing treats on the treadmill while it’s stationary to encourage your dog to step onto it. Make sure you give your dog lots of praise, too.
Once your dog has become accustomed to standing on the treadmill when it’s switched off, you can step up the pace. Put the treadmill on the slowest speed setting at first, then slowly increase it when your dog begins to get the hang of things.
If you don’t have a treadmill at home, there are machines designed specifically for dogs. A dog treadmill is much smaller in size than a regular treadmill, so they’re an ideal option if your house has limited space.
However, never force your dog to use a treadmill if they aren’t enjoying it or are getting stressed out. There are a lot of other types of indoor activities you can do to exercise your dog.
If your dog enjoys playing in the water, then you can set up an indoor swimming pool for them using your bathtub or a paddling pool. Swimmingis an excellent exercise for dogs as it strengthens their muscles and is a good cardio workout. It’s also beneficial for dogs with joint issues like arthritisand hip dysplasia.
If you don’t own a bathtub or a large enough unit, then a paddling pool is just as good for your dog to splash around in. Obviously, a paddling pool works better in a garden to ensure your floors and household items don’t get soaked. However, you could use one inside provided you put down lots of towels for inevitable spillage.
It’s important to train your dog, so what better way to teach your dog commands or some new tricks than when you’re stuck inside. Training is a fantastic way of exercising and challenging your dog.
Keep training sessions reasonably short, so your dog doesn’t lose interest. You should use treats and lots of praise to reward your dog when they correctly perform a new skill or trick.
Stairs can make a pretty good cardio workout for dogs as long as they are carpeted. To encourage your dog to run up and down the stairs, you might have to participate in the exercise.
Simply walk or jog up and down the stairs with your dog to get them excited. You and your dog will probably be a little worn out after the activity, so make sure you both have a well-deserved rest afterwards.
Most dogs love chasing and trying to catch bubbles as it triggers their natural prey drive. This provides them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
Make sure the bubbles you use are safe for dogs and won’t hurt their eyes. You can buy dog-friendly bubbles or make your own at home using water and glycerin.
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways you can keep your dog occupied and active indoors. Exercise is a crucial part of your dog’s daily routine as it provides them with physical and mental stimulation, which are both important for their health and wellbeing.
Even when you and your dog are stuck inside, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourselves or be mobile. The exercises above are just some of the activities you can do with your dog at home, so get creative and see what other indoor exercises you can both try!
Like humans, dogs can experience joint health issues as they age, leading to discomfort, reduced mobility, and decreased overall quality of life. Joint problems are common in dogs, especially in larger breeds and those with a genetic predisposition.