Indoor Exercise for Dogs

Dec 05 , 2019

Indoor Exercise for Dogs

Do you ever have days where your dog needs to burn off some energy, but you can't leave the house? We have some remedies!

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Why it's Important

Sometimes it's raining for days on end. Maybe there's three feet of snow on the ground and it's freezing cold outside. Or on the other hand, maybe it's 95 degrees outside and just plain unsafe to exercise in temps that high.

It's tough burn off energy on days like that, but your dog is getting cabin fever. Maybe you are, too. What's a dog owner to do?

Similarly, alternative forms of exercise can help for injured dogs. Maybe your vet prescribed crate rest while your pup heals from trauma or surgery. The hardest part of rehab is when the dog starts to feel better and wants to run, but isn't ready yet. Rather than causing a setback in progress, consider some of the following tips!

Mental Exercise

Nosework Of the five senses, smell is what a dog does best. So why not put that sniffer to work? Nosework can range from finding a hidden treat under the table to competition level training. Give the basics a try with your pup and see if it's something he or she would enjoy. If they pick it up easily, look into the program called K9 Nose Work. You can purchase a scent kit to use for training, and eventually have the option to compete! For more information, visit the website.

Hide and Seek Similar to nosework, you can hide and teach your pup to find you! This is best with two people because one can distract the dog. But if you can teach your pup to stay, you can do it by yourself. When your dog finds you, offer a treat or a toy and get really excited! It's an absolute blast to play, and even more fun if you have kids.

Food Dispensing Toy These toys are a great way to keep dogs busy and also make them think a little bit. You can buy these in the store, or you can make your own out of a tennis ball. If you have a larger dog, use an oversized tennis ball.

Which Hand? Hold your hands closed and let your dog figure out which one has the treat in it.

Cup Game Use two cups placed upside down and ask your dog to decide which one has the treat in it. Once they get the hang of it, increase the number of cups as needed to keep them interested.

Puzzle Games These are gaining popularity in the dog world and there are quite a few different varieties available in stores or online. Some dogs figure them out fast, so consider some DIY options as well, like a muffin tin full of tennis balls with food or treats underneath.

Bubbles Blow some bubbles and see if your dog will try to catch them!

New Toys Dogs love it when you bring home a new toy. For some ideas on the cheap, consider DIY. Have some old shirts laying around? You can make a rope toy out of them. Old socks? Stick a tennis ball in them or fill one up with more old socks. Tie off the end, and you have a dog toy! Goodwill sells stuffed animals for 50¢. Choose one without plastic parts (check the eyes) and they make great dog toys. Wash and dry what you buy before you giving it to your pup.

Test Your Training Skills!

CGC Training Earn your pup a Canine Good Citizen certificate! The CGC is an AKC based program that gives your pup credit for being well trained and well behaved. It is mostly a novelty, but definitely a bragging point. Many of the items on the CGC test can be taught indoors. For more information, visit the AKC website.

Name Your Toys Does your dog love toys? Give them names and teach them to your dog.

Clicker Training If you haven't tried it, clicker training is a game changer. You'll learn to time your rewards more precisely and your communication with your dog will improve drastically. For a good intro, check out 101 Things to Do with a Box.

Teach Party Tricks Being stuck inside is a great time to teach your dog some new tricks. Keep sessions short, and if your dog loses interest, go to a basic command and end the session on a good note. You can pick it up again for a few minutes later that day. If you have multiple dogs, train one at a time to avoid miscommunication. Party tricks include things like Shake, Roll Over, Get Your Leash, Put Toys Away, Get Me A Beer, and so on. There are many. Feel free to come up with your own!

Indoor Physical Activity

For some dogs, mental stimulation either isn't interesting, or isn't enough to do the job of wearing them out.

Tug of War Some dogs love to tug. Get a good rope toy and tug away!

Obstacles Teach your dog to jump over obstacles! You can also make a course, teaching your pup to go over, under, and around household items.

Play Fetch Normally an outside game, Fetch can be brought indoors! It works well in long hallways. You can even add an obstacle or two to jump over if there's room! If you have stairs, throwing the ball up or down the stairs is a great way to burn more calories in the same amount of time. Not recommended if your stairs are slick!

Indoor Playdates Do you have friends with dogs? Invite some of them over for a rainy day doggy pawty!


Besides mental and physical exercise, there are a few more things you can do to keep your pup entertained.

Run an Errand If you need to go to the store, bring your pup with you! There are lots of dog-friendly retail stores. It's one way to get a little bit of exercise, some socialization, and a short change of scenery. Every little bit helps on long stretches of inclement weather.

Grooming Find an easy-to-clean area of the house and do a little grooming. Have a mini spa day with your pup. Brush your pup out, cut nails, give a bath, or use some dry shampoo. The end result will be quality time spent and a clean pup.

Something to Chew On A favorite busy-toy is the original Kong. Stuff it with peanut butter, cheese, treats, or make your own combo. For longer lasting chew time, freeze it first! Many dog owners feed raw bones, but consult your vet first and use caution.

How many of these tricks have you employed? Have they worked? What did we miss? Please share with us on social media!




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