There are a few reasons why you might not be able to exercise your dog outdoors, and the most obvious one is the weather (it’s either too cold, too hot, or too rainy. In some places, all of that can even happen in one day!).
If you are wondering what else you can do apart from walking your dog when the outdoors isn’t an option or isn’t ideal, you’re in the right place!
Apart from the weather, there might be other things that prevent you from stepping out, such as:
Feeling regret or even guilt at not being able to walk your dog is not something you should beat yourself up for!
As a caring dog parent, you naturally want the best for your pooch and the daily walk routine is a big part of that care.
The good news is that you can still exercise your pooch indoors/at home and still have some fun whilst you are at it! It’s a win-win (even though your dog is likely to show their displeasure at not getting out for the daily routine, they’ll still enjoy the activities and love the time together).
Here’s what you’ll discover, including a list of activities, games and more:
Playing with your dog and training her is a great way to keep your furry friend mentally and physically stimulated.
Plus, apart from spending quality time together, it is a great opportunity to reinforce basic obedience, practice commands, and strengthen the bond you share.
Sometimes, you just can’t or don’t have time to go for a walk, and that’s fine as long as you can spend some time playing with your pooch.
What’s important for you to know is how essential exercise is for your pooch and to find a way to provide your dog with this fundamental need, that works for you 🙂
No matter how big or small your dog is, or how young or old, they all need exercise to maintain their health.
Regular exercise helps your dog to:
Of course, different dogs require different levels of activity (check out How Often Should I Walk My Dog? and How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need? blog posts to learn more about your dog’s energy level and how much exercise and walking she needs).
But, have you ever noticed your dog is quite energetic after a brisk walk but completely drained after a short training session?
That’s because just 10-15 minutes of mental stimulation, (an activity that requires your dog to concentrate and process information), is as physically exhausting as a half-hour of moderate exercise, like walking or playing.
So, next time the weather isn’t cooperating, give dog exercise indoors a go!
Depending on your dog’s breed and personality, your pooch might be more attracted to certain activities and play with certain toys.
P.S: In How to Choose a Dog Toy blog post, I go through the steps to help you select the right toy for your pooch.
According to what dog group your pooch belongs, this table will help you understand your dog’s natural instincts and what activities, games and toys she might prefer.
|BREEDS||SENSE, INSTINCT||GAME, ACTIVITY, TOY|
|Puzzle toys, |
|Flying disc, |
|Jack Russells, |
|Pest control.||Tug, digging, |
|Bichons Frises, |
Shiba Inus, etc.
|No longer |
the duties for which
|Pointers, Setters, |
walking and hiking.
Also, therapy dogs, assistance dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
Dogues de Bordeaux,
Saint Bernards, etc.
|Performing specific tasks for their owners.||Obedience|
Miniature Pinschers, Papillons, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, etc.
|Companion.||Squeaky toys, tricks and games.|
Use my dog toy finder to see which toy will suit your dog the best.
At this point, you are probably wondering how to tire out your dog without leaving the house or whilst staying indoors, right?
How to be active during bad weather? Here are 17 dog exercises, games and activities to keep your pooch physically – and mentally – active whilst staying indoors:
Here’s how to play “Name that Toy” with your dog:
Insider Tip: After playing with her toys, put them away. This helps your dog identify when it’s playtime and when it’s not. Also, your dog will view her toys as novelty when you bring them out. If your pooch has access the toy all day, she may be bored with it and not want to play with it next time.
For those of you that love to get your pooch toys often, you’ll find my favourite dog toys and treats useful, where I talk about safely made toys and healthy treats combo to get for your doggy.
However, if you cannot afford to get toys every month or you have no need since your dog doesn’t destroy them at all…
You could just hide some of them for a week or so and then present them to your pooch again. She will be more than excited to get her fav toy back!
Scent games like this one are excellent indoor activities that not only expend energy but also build confidence as well.
Do you remember playing hide and seek?
Insider Tip: As a final prize to this scent game, you could go all out to thrill your dog and hide a big meaty bone or long-lasting chew treat from her to find and then enjoy.
Dog Exercise Equipment: none, just treats 😉
Brain games are fun games that you can play with your dog to teach her new skills and increase her intelligence.
Dog Exercise Equipment: none, just small treats that fit in your hands 😉
Have a look at the Airplane Game in action:
Fetch toys are highly interactive, which makes them ideal for playtime with your dog. It’s also a great exercise to bond with your dog!
Many puppies love fetching balls or catching frisbees. Others love to chase after soft toys. And some dogs love things that bounce around unpredictably, making them more challenging to go after.
As Dominic Hodgson says, “You want to discover what your dog’s kryptonite is”.
i.e. which toys she loves the most, then let your dog play with her favourite ones during playtime session. It will be a great reward for her!
Playing fetch in the hallway:
A good game of tug doesn’t take up a lot of room, but it does use up a lot of your dog’s physical energy!
Also, it’s a great game that allows you to practice commands during the game and a suitable avenue for a dog’s inherent need to bite and chew (potentially preventing destructive behaviour at home).
For a safe tug game, play with a set of rules that your dog understands and follows (i.e., a structured game of tug).
Since tug games are mentally and physically tiring for dogs, you should play in short intervals (5mins or less) and gradually increase the length of the game.
Also, if you play for too long, your dog will lose interest and wander away.
P.S. Look for tug toys that are durable enough to stand up to rigorous pulling and long enough that you can safely hold onto one end while your dog pulls on the other.
You should continue training your dog and teaching her new tricks, no matter the age! A dog’s brain never loses its ability to learn new things so long as you give it a chance.
Once your dog has mastered basic commands, it’s time to start working on some cool new tricks, like roll over, sit pretty, or high-five.
They say that the tricks and skills many dogs can learn are limited only by their owners’ imagination. (and since you’re here, I think your imagination is limitless ;))
There’s nothing better than learning new things to keep your dog’s mind sharp throughout her life. The brain is like a muscle – if you don’t challenge it, it won’t grow!
That’s why the best way to keep your dog mentally active and smarter is by teaching her new tricks.
Especially if you want to teach your dog new tricks in a fun and highly rewarding way, you should check out my favourite training method. For instance, you could teach your pooch to tidy up her toys and play the piano! (as unbelievable as it sounds, it’s real and has been done; no jokes).
Insider Tip: Keep training sessions short – about 15 to 20 minutes – and always end on a positive note. For instance, if your dog hasn’t quite grasped the last trick, go back to one she knows well and end your session with that one instead and reward her thoroughly. This will make her excited about training and looking forward to the next session.
Finally, training will strengthen your bond and communication skills with your pooch.
Plus, you will have some great fun showing off to everyone else what you have taught her and she will LOVE being rewarded for learning new commands and tricks. WIN-WIN.
Dog Exercise Equipment: none.
Setting up an obstacle course for your furry friend is another great challenge and a great agility exercise.
The goal is to create a circuit for your dog to run along and jump over things. You can use things that you have at home to build one: cushions, chairs, a hula hoop, etc.
Dogs with a strong prey drive (hunting breeds) love chasing bubbles. A few minute sessions of chasing bubbles (3-5 minutes) can work wonders for your dog. Just whip out your bubble wand and let your dog pop them until she’s tired!
You can use bubbles made for kids, bubbles made for dogs or make your own, as long as they are non-toxic.
Regardless of which one you go for, do keep in mind that they can upset your dog’s stomach if they ingest too many. Also, bubbles can irritate your dog’s eyes, so remember to wipe off her face afterwards.
Because of these, I would limit the number of times to play this game or completely avoid it if your dog shows no interest in bubbles.
That being said, if your dog has no idea what bubbles are, here are some steps on how to teach your dog to chase bubbles:
Insider Tip: You can make your own bubble mixture using glycerin and water. The glycerin that is derived from animal and plant sources is generally considered ‘safe’ and used as a sweetener and binder in dog food.
If you leave in a house that has stairs, you can definitely utilize them to exercise your pooch! It’s as simple as running your dog up and down the stairs 🙂
However, this is not a good exercise for some dogs, like senior dogs or doggies with arthritis and other joint problems.
Dog Exercise Equipment: none.
Have you tried the doggy version of a push-up? It’s a great way to keep your dog focused on you, practise commands and get her to work out!
P.S: Your dog will need to at least understand and respond to the sit and (lay) down commands.
This is how it works:
To reward your dog’s obedience, you can start by giving her treats after each command. Then, challenge your dog by giving her treats only after a sequence (sit, stand, down).
You can continue to vary the sequence and add reps between treats, making the exercise unpredictable and exciting for your pooch.
Dog Exercise Equipment: none!
Yes, dogs can use treadmills, although preferably those designed specifically for them.
If you have a high energy dog and the weather is adverse to burn her energy outdoors, you might want to consider a treadmill as a supplement to her exercise routine.
However, while the treadmill is a great indoor substitute, nothing replaces the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors! So, this advice is ideal for use only when you cannot exercise your dog outdoors.
All dogs will need a bit of training before using a treadmill:
Be cautious and never leash your dog to the treadmill. Also, don’t leave your pooch unattended since it can be dangerous.
Dog Exercise Equipment: a treadmill specifically for dogs (Amazon link). Heads-up, they are not cheap!
Canine conditioning is another type of dog exercise indoors that you can try. It involves exercises to strengthen your dog’s muscles, improve balance, and sharpen agility.
They are most commonly used for puppies and dogs involved in competitive sports. However, any healthy, high-energy pooch can benefit from them. Plus, they are online classes (like fitness programs for people). Here are three platforms that I know about: E-training For Dogs, FitPAWS and Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.
Dog Exercise Equipment: depending on the type of class, they usually tell you what you will need 😉
Do your friends and family have dogs? Does your dog have some nice dog friends? You can invite them over for some fun playtime for a couple of hours!
This can be another way to keep your dog entertained and active. You can give them a couple of squeaky toys and they will have lots of fun together. It’s pretty much guaranteed that your pooch will be tired by the end of the day.
Be careful to move any valuable items away from the playing area since having two dogs play together can get a little rough!
Dog Exercise Equipment: squeaky toys, for example.
This could be a great game for the whole family to play or to have some fun with your dog lover friends.
Here’s how to play this game:
You could take this game outdoors to a fenced area and have the players spread out further.
Insider Tip: This game could be a great way to play with your dog when having visitors in the house. Your dog will be calmer if she can greet new people in an orderly manner, avoiding jumping around due to excitement.
Dog Exercise Equipment: not needed.
There are also some dog activities indoors that you can try, outside the comfort of your home:
As an outside your home option, indoor parks are very popular. You can try a local indoor pet centre or indoor dog park.
These places offer great exercises for dogs and are perfect for socialization as well. What can you expect?
If your dog enjoys swimming and you have access to water, swimming classes can be a great solution for you and your pooch.
Swimming is great exercise and a very quick way to tire out your dog. As a word of caution, doggie life jackets should be a must, regardless of how good of a swimmer your dog is.
P.S. If you are not sure if your dog can swim, check out How Smart Are Dogs? And 9 Other Facts To Know blog post (Fact #9 – Can All Dogs Swim?)
There are a few classes for dogs that you can attend:
While massage certainly does not count as exercise (don’t we wish!), it is extremely beneficial for your dog’s health, flexibility and circulation. Fancy giving your cute pooch a treat?
Here are some benefits of doggy massage:
P.S. For outdoor activities, head on over to Dog Exercise Outdoors blog post and have fun!