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Unless you live in a magical land that’s sunny and warm every single day of the year, there’s going to come a time when you need to exercise your dog indoors. Even then, there may be times when you’re too sick, too hurt, or just too tired to take your pup for a long stroll around the block.
10 Ways to Exercise Your Dog Indoors
Fortunately, giving them a good workout inside is easy when you follow the tips below.
Invest in an exercise wheel
Make no mistake about it, a dog exercise wheel is a major investment. Even the cheapest model for small dogs will run you well over $500 and the larger models are double the cost of the average mortgage payment in the United States. If you’re planning to exercise your dog indoors regularly (and not just when it rains), it’s a worthwhile investment.
You can also get a slightly cheaper dog treadmill, but keep in mind that a wheel is dog-powered while the treadmill continues to cost money every time you turn it on. Sure, the power consumed isn’t likely to break the bank, but it does add up over time.
Play Fetch with a Soft Ball
The first game that we teach our pups is also one of the cheapest and easiest ways to exercise your dog indoors. Just make sure you choose a relatively soft ball, especially if your pooch loves to toss things around before giving them back. A cheap game of fetch becomes quite costly when you have to replace your television, lamp, and half a dozen crystal vases.
If possible, take the game to a long hallway and close all of the doors. Not only does this decrease the risk to your breakables, it gives your dog more room to get up some speed and really stretch those legs. We call this “ball in the hall” in our house, and my dog goes nuts over it.
Become hide-and-seek champions
This classic childhood game is also a great way to give your dog a good indoor workout both physically and mentally. Unless Fido is a “wait” or “stay” master, you’ll need someone to distract him while you find a hiding spot. Then, either have your helper give your dog a “go find…” command, or just call out to him.
When he discovers you, reward him with small treats and plenty of praise. Start by just hiding behind doors or around corners a few steps away until he gets the hang of the game. Once he masters finding you in simple spots, get more creative.
Build an indoor obstacle course
While you can buy indoor agility equipment, it’s easier & cheaper to just build your own. Grab pillows, couch cushions, hula hoops, and anything else you have on hand to create your course. Depending on the size of your dog and your home, it can be as simple as going over the pillows & through the hoop to as complicated as a full course with jumps, tunnels, weaves and more. Use treats or a flirt pole to entice him to go through the course.
Send him on a hunt
If your home isn’t really big enough (or your dog isn’t small enough) for a massive indoor obstacle course, a treasure hunt is the next best thing. Choose a high-value treat and let your dog sniff it. Then, either give him the “wait” command or have someone distract you while you hide it. Give your dog the “find” command and let him lose to search it out.
Like hide-and-seek, at first, you’ll want to hide the treat someplace relatively simple for your dog to find. As he gets better at it, step things up a notch by wrapping it in blankets, hiding it under things, or both. Treasure hunts don’t just get your dog moving, they also engage his sense of smell, making them fun nose work games.
Become a stair master
If you have steps in your home, you have everything you need for this indoor exercise. Get a good workout yourself by encouraging your dog to chase you up and down the stairs. If you’re unable to join in the fun, combine stair exercises with other games. For example, throw your fetching ball up the steps, or hide his treats in an upstairs room.
Get interactive with treats & toys
While interactive toys won’t get your dog’s heart rate up the way other indoor games do, they’re still an easy and creative way to bust boredom. Invest in a few puzzle toys that make him work for his treats or motorized balls that encourage him to give chase. You can even make your own out of cardboard boxes or plastic cups. Think about that street game, “Three Card Monty” (aka “Find the Lady”). Line up three cups and hide a treat under one. Then swap them around and let your dog sniff out his prize.
Teach your old dog new tricks
Grab a new training book or load up some YouTube videos for this one, because you really can teach an old dog new tricks. Advanced training games aren’t just great bonding and exercise opportunities, they also help reinforce your dog’s basic training. Need some ideas? Teach your dog to spin around on command, jump through your arms (if he’s a tiny pooch), give hugs, how to wave hello, or even all the names of his toys.
Schedule a puppy playdate
If your pup has a favorite dog park pal, invite him over for an indoor playdate. Not only is this a great way to socialize your dog, but it gives you a chance to connect with others who have similar interests as well. Clear some space in a large room and let the two exercise each other. Just stick close by in case your dog
starts feeling a bit territorial.
Invest in a doggy gym membership
If you happen to live in an area with an indoor dog park (aka doggy gym) and you know it’ll be miserable outside more often than not, then you may want to consider investing in a membership. If you don’t live near such a place, call around to local trainers and ask if they host indoor play sessions.
While a few of the above options do require a bit of a financial investment, for the most part, you won’t have to spend a single dime to exercise your dog indoors. In other words, neither you nor your dog has an excuse to skip your workouts just because of a little rain.
You might want to check out these dog treadmill training tips.
About the Author: Nicole is a writer and editor at AlphaTrainedDog, a site dedicated to helping both new and seasoned dog parents lead the very best lives possible with their canine companions. She’s currently a pet parent to a Pharaoh Hound dog and three cats.
Ellen is a busy mom of a 22-year-old son and 27-year-old daughter. She owns 5 blogs and is addicted to social media. She has been running a small pet sitting business in southern Vermont for the past three years. She’s a proud Mommy to 2 shelter kitties. If you’d like to work together, email firstname.lastname@example.org to chat.