Indoor Exercise for Dogs
Whether it’s too hot, too cold or just plain yucky, there are certain times when outdoor exercise with your dog just doesn’t work out. Still, keeping dogs active for about a half hour each day is important for their health and happiness—especially when they’re young and have tons of energy to burn. Here are some fun and simple ways to play with your dog inside, even if you don’t have lots of room to work with.
If you’re wondering how to play with a puppy indoors, training is a great answer. Even old dogs can learn new tricks with a little patience and positive reinforcement! Work on obedience commands like “stay” or “come,” which can be useful if your dog likes to make a run for it when you open the door, or when they pick up a scent outside. Fun tricks like “shake,” “roll over,” or “speak/whisper” will also keep your dog mentally stimulated, which can tire them out just as effectively as purely physical exercise.
Need a little help on the training front? Attend a nearby obedience class. These classes are generally held indoors and will help your dog burn some energy while strengthening the bond you share. She may even meet some new doggy friends at class!
If you have a dog that enjoys water or you want to introduce your puppy to swimming, the bathtub makes a great indoor swimming pool. Big dogs can have fun splashing around in the tub, especially if you add some of their favorite water toys to the mix. Smaller dogs might even be able to swim back and forth if you fill the tub enough. Always supervise this activity to safely remove your dog from the water when she’s ready.
When teaching a puppy to swim, it’s important to show them that water isn’t scary (or just related to bath-time). Gently pour warm water down your puppy’s back or over her belly to show her how nice it feels. You could even give her a treat to make the experience that much better. When she’s ready, fill the tub and hold her just above the water until she starts treading in the air with her paws. Gently lower her into the water while she’s paddling and, when she seems comfortable, release her to let her swim a short distance on her own. Once she’s used to it, swimming indoors and out might become her new favorite activity!
Treadmills & Stair Climbing
If you have a treadmill in your home, you could teach your dog how to use it. Start on the lowest speed setting until your dog gets the hang of the moving surface. Gradually work your way up to walking or even trotting speed.
If your dog is afraid of treadmills but you have stairs, climbing up and down can be another great form of exercise. Toss a toy down the steps and have your dog retrieve it for you while you wait at the top. She’ll be tuckered out in no time!
Hide & Seek
Who doesn’t love a good game of hide and seek? Have your dog stay in place while you find somewhere to hide in another room, like behind a door or piece of furniture where she can get to you. Then, call for her and see how long it takes for her to sniff you out. Using an excited voice and giving your dog plenty of pets when she finds you will make the experience fun and rewarding for her.
Tug of War
Tug toys are great for making your dog use some muscle. They’re also a good way to keep multiple dogs entertained. Make sure to monitor tug games between dogs, since they can sometimes lead to aggression if one of the dogs gets competitive. Break up the game and give each dog their own toy if things seem a little too heated.
If you have a room with plenty of space or a long, open hallway, play fetch! Games of fetch are good indoor dog exercise and give you a chance to practice obedience commands like “drop it”. Playing multiple short games per day will help keep puppies engaged and (hopefully) encourage naptime.
Some dogs go bananas for bubbles! Blow some with a bubble wand or get an automatic bubble blower to really get the party started. Just be sure to use a doggy-safe bubble mixture—soap bubbles can feel unpleasant in your dog’s eyes and probably don’t taste too good, either.
Need to keep your dog occupied while you’re on a call or working on a project? A game of “find it” can be just as stimulating as hide and seek—and tasty, too! Hide kibbles or pieces of treats in various places around the house for your dog to sniff out. Start with smellier treats while she gets the hang of the game and the “find it” command. Then, make the game more challenging with regular food kibbles or biscuits that aren’t as strongly scented.
You might not think of puzzle chew toys as a way to exercise your dog indoors, but the mental stimulation they provide is perfect for busting boredom and burning brain energy. On top of providing a tasty challenge for your dog to solve, these toys can help slow down dogs who tend to eat too fast. Whether you fill these toys with their dog food, small treats or peanut butter, they’re sure to keep those tongues and noses occupied.
Your dog might not be able to help pay the bills, but she could at least put her stuff away every now and then, right? You can teach your dog all sorts of helpful tricks, like fetching items or putting her toys away in a designated area. Each task will get your dog moving and feel rewarding, since she’ll be lending a paw to her favorite person.
Giving your dog a challenge while she exercises will help her work up a sweat mentally, too. Your course doesn’t have to be anything complicated—you could simply use a collapsible cloth tunnel that can easily be stored away when playtime is done. Toss a ball though one entrance so your dog chases it through to the other side. If she isn’t sure about the tunnel at first, crawl through yourself (if it’s big enough) to show her how much fun it is. Or simply encourage her with treats. She’ll be running and crawling through it in no time!
Indoor Dog Parks
Dog parks aren’t exclusively outdoor. Do some research to see if there are any indoor dog play areas near you, especially if your dog loves to hang out with fellow four-legged friends. If you’re wondering how to exercise your dog inside while socializing her with other dogs, an indoor play-place would be a great fit. Dropping her off at any doggie daycare could also be a fun way for her to interact with other dogs and burn off plenty of energy.
Long-Lasting Chew Toys and Treats
Chew toys and long-lasting treats can give your dog’s jaws a great workout and even help clean her teeth. Stimulate their mind and keep them busy with Soup Bones™ dog chews.
There are plenty more delicious treats to discover from Rachael Ray® Nutrish®, all inspired by the wholesome goodness of Rachael’s kitchen. Try them all to keep your dog entertained on any day spent in the great indoors.