Sometimes you can’t make it outside for an adventure with your dog. With winter weather, holiday planning and events, and cold season all happening at the same time, sometimes going outside just isn’t an option. The good news is there is still plenty of activities you can do inside to exercise your dog, and a lot of them are fun for you too!
Think Mental and Physical Exercise
Have you ever taken a really hard test or had a particularly brain-intensive task at work and been exhausted afterward? The same thing is true for dogs! If you give them something mentally intensive, like a puzzle, you can tire them out just as well (or more) than if you had played intense game of fetch.
Here are some suggestions for indoor exercise that will work out your dog and some that will give you some exercise too!
1. Run up and down the stairs with your dog.
The classic. You can even race each other! If you don’t have stairs, try a hallway or a particularly long stretch of room.
2. Get a laser pointer.
Some dogs go for this and some don’t. If your dog is a smart cookie, try to hide it from them that it’s you controlling the laser pointer for as long as possible! Some dogs will lose interest once they figure out that it’s you controlling it.
3. Nose work – scavenger hunt.
Put your dog in another room for a minute and make a scavenger hunt out of treats! Hide them in obvious places and unobvious places and see how fast your dog can find them. This is easiest with small treats like Zuke’s Mini Naturals – you can put them in tiny places. One great spot is to balance the treat on the edge of your floor trim.
Asking your dog to use their nose to find things is good practice for to keep their nose-skills sharp. It’s also just really fun to watch!
4. Nose work – what’s under the cup?
Grab some plastic cups or metal containers and play find the treat. Put a treat under one or two of them and let your dog find them. To make it harder, put the treats under the cups and switch the cups around a couple times before you let your dog find them.
You can also do the same by putting a treat in one hand, putting your hands behind your back, doing a switcharoo, then showing your dog your closed fists and seeing if they choose the right one!
5. Nose work – find the object.
Show your dog an object that you want them to find. Have them stay and watch while you hide it somewhere (easy to start). Tell them ‘Find it!’ (you can also name the object – like ‘Find the sock!’). When they find it, reward them. After a few times, you can hide it while they aren’t looking to make it harder. If your dog is really smart, you can start teaching them the names of different objects and having them find them for you. You can later use this so they can help you find things like the remote!
6. Hide and seek!
Put your dog in stay in another room. Go find a hiding place, and tell them ‘Come!’ and see how fast they can find you!
If they are struggling, help them find you by using your voice.
7. Indoor fetch!
It’s best to have a designed room or area to do this so they know that room = fetch and know to keep calmer in other areas of the house with more breakable stuff.
8. Set up an obstacle course!
Lead them over it with treats or their favorite toy. If you have an agility dog, you can bring your agility gear inside.
9. Use the treadmill.
Have a treadmill? Work your dog up to using it. Show him the treadmill while it’s running, and if he’s doing okay, give him a treat. Once he’s comfortable with this, put him on the treadmill while it’s not running and give him a treat. After this, try it on a low speed and give him a treat. You can gradually work up to going faster. Just remember never to tie your dog to the treadmill.
10. Go on an indoor outing
If it’s safe to go out, take your dog on an indoor outing. You can go to a pet store or check out another place that is dog-friendly like a brewery. There may be indoor dog parks where you live. You could also take them to an indoor doggy daycare.