How to Exercise Your Dog Indoors

by Drs. Foster and Smith on October 16, 2009

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Interactive Dog Toys **Guest post from Ellen B.**

When the weather is bad and outdoor walks, games of fetch or swimming are just not possible, exercise your dog indoors in a different style: “mental” exercise!

Mental exercise can stimulate your dog’s mind and relieve boredom just as physical exercise does. Most importantly, these exercises give you an opportunity to bond with your dog while you spend time together. The attention you’ll be giving your dog will be a huge reward-for both you and your dog!

4 Easy Ideas for Fun Indoor Exercise

1. Tricks & Games: Does your dog know how to sit, stay, down, shake dance, roll over, bow, come and all the other traditional dog tricks? Bad weather is the perfect time to teach and refine these tricks that stimulate your dog’s mind. Each trick learned is a proud accomplishment for you too.

I recently taught my dog the game of “hide and seek” (or “sniff out the treat” in dog language). It is as much fun for me as it is for my dog! The only prerequisite is that your dog needs to know the “stay” command. In this video, you’ll see how I command my dog to “stay” and start with hiding in an easy-to-find place. As your dog’s seeking skills get better, hide further away and in harder- to- find places, such as closets.

Agility Tunnel2. Dog agility training: If you have an indoor agility facility in your community, great…check it out! Since there is no indoor facility in our area and we have very long winters, I am going to start with homemade agility obstacles on a small scale. Granted, I have a fairly small dog which makes this indoor play easier, but I plan to use blankets, shoe boxes and furniture in my obstacle course. Remember being a kid and building a fort with blankets, tables, chairs, etc? Use some of that creativity to make simple agility obstacles. If it goes well, consider investing in some agility equipment.

Obedience training is a big part of agility training. Even though indoor obstacles will be limited by size, your dog will benefit from the mental exercise and will develop excellent command skills. Read some of Melissa’s posts to learn more about dog agility.

Puzzle Dog Toy

Puzzle Dog Toy

Kibble Nibble Dog Toy

Kibble Nibble Dog Toy

3. Interactive Puzzle Dog Toys: Interactive puzzle toys present your dog a problem-solving challenge. My dog likes toys that dispense a treat, such as the Kibble Nibble dog toy. He has to work at getting the treat out, but the reward is worth his effort. To avoid over-feeding, I like to reserve some of my dog’s dinner for a treat toy. The mental stimulation presented by puzzle toys are great boredom busters.

4. Daily Tasks: A recent post, Dogs: A Little Bit of Training Goes a Long Way, describes how to take advantage of everyday tasks, such as feeding your dog or letting him outside, to give him some good mind exercise.

A Note About Dog Exercise

Be aware that some dog breeds need considerably more exercise than others. Know the exercise requirements for the breed before you select a new pet so you are able to provide proper exercise.

Baxter after a hard day of play!

Baxter after a hard day of play!

“A tired dog is a good dog”, so don’t let a rainy day or long winter be reason for your dog to be bored and find trouble.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Carrie @ Rescue Advocacy October 16, 2009 at 9:36 am

We exercise our dog indoors too. It’s his favorite. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uzjLfGFllY&feature=player_embedded)

Ellen B. October 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Carrie-your video is great! It’s the simple things in life that bring joy. We have long winters here in Wisconsin, I think I may need to find a path in our house to circle with Kobe! Thanks for sharing.

Jamie October 16, 2009 at 11:10 pm

These are some great tips! Love the video, me and my dog do the same thing!

Melissa October 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

My dog LOVES a good treat toy…Keeps her busy for a good half hour if we’re lucky. Plus I figure it helps burn off some “winter calories”. We also try to make time for “Tricks” each night if possible. One of her favorites is hiding the treat under a cup, and mix it in with 3 or 4 other cups (upside down)…The she has to figure out which cup it is under. :-) Thanks Ellen!

Ellen B. October 26, 2009 at 8:14 am

Kobe mastered “say hello” (more commonly called “shake”) this weekend. Melissa, I’m going to teach him your suggested trick next…find the treat under the cup. Thanks for the suggestion!

dog training tips November 16, 2009 at 9:15 pm

i love your video. this is a another video about training dogs i already watch this video this is very simple and easy to do.

Mary December 29, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Our 7 year old lab loves playing hide and seek! She knows both my and my husband’s first names, so when I say go find Scott, she’ll search the house!
I love the cup and treat game idea. We’re going to give it a try this evening.

Gayle January 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

We’re going to take a Rally class.

Cheryll Sanderson March 15, 2012 at 9:35 am

These are great tips for exercising and reinforcing our relationship with our dogs! In MN we typically have long, cold winters and although Bella Rose and I do participate in agility, the rest of the week is tough because we can’t really get outside. #CELEBRATE

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