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How to get your dog to exercise indoors

Dog owner playing indoors with a Beagle advice

Here is how to exercise your dog indoors

© Shutterstock

Dogs love physical exercise and relish the chance to run around. But there may be times when it’s just not possible to take your canine companion out on their daily walks.

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 20/03/2020, 11:00

Exercising your dog indoors is a great alternative and ensures your dog can stay mentally and physically fit. 

There can be all sorts of reasons why you may not be able to take your dog out for its daily jaunt. But pups can still get the exercise and stimulation they need even if they can’t go outside. Exercising a dog indoors may take a bit more effort and creativity, but there are plenty of ways you can keep your dog fit, happy and stimulated while strengthening your bond with them.

How much exercise does my dog need?

Exercise keeps dogs in shape and it is also important for their mental health. Not getting enough exercise can lead to several health problems such as obesity and behavioural problems. How much exercise your dog needs will greatly depend on their age, breed, personality and of course health. Most canines, however, need around 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

It is important your dog gets enough exercise everyday, find out more about how to exercise your dog on a daily basis.

What is the best way to exercise your dog?

Taking your dog outside for a long walk is one of the best ways to exercise. Even for much older dogs, walking can be a gentle way to give them the exercise they need but without pushing them to overdo it. If exercising a dog indoors is your only option, perhaps consider investing in a treadmill. While it won’t recreate the experience of walking outdoors, it’s the closest way to give them a regular walk.

How can I exercise my dog indoors?

Exercising a dog indoors may take some extra thought and effort on your part, but there are plenty of things to try. For example:

  • Use a pet-friendly treadmill: If you can’t take your dog outside for a walk then allow them to plod along on the treadmill to stretch their legs.
  • Play fetch: Depending on the space you have at home, fetch is a great form of exercise and entertainment for your dog.
  • Set up an obstacle course: An obstacle course is a great way of mentally and physically exercising a dog indoors. You can make a course out of anything; you are only limited by the space you have and your imagination.
  • Tug-of-war: Tug-of-war is a fun game for both you and your dog to play together. However, there are risks with this game and it may bring out their more aggressive behaviour.

How do you mentally stimulate a dog?

Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is important for their health and should play a crucial part in exercising a dog indoors. There are some simple ways you can make sure your dog stays mentally stimulated while also having fun too.

  • Get your dog to work for their food: Instead of just putting down their food bowl and letting them get on with it, change up their feeding routine. Use a food-dispensing toy, such as a Kong, and put their food inside it.
  • Teach your dog some tricks: Using training techniques to teach your dog a new command or trick is great for their mental stimulation. It’s also a great way to boost their confidence and strengthen your bond with them.
  • Scent stimulation: Scent training can awaken your dog’s hunting and retrieving instincts. Hide some of their favourite toys treats in different places around your home. They will then have to follow their nose to find the items.
  • Puzzle toys: There are a variety of different puzzle toys to test your pup’s problem-solving skills.

How can I exercise my dog in the winter?

The British weather can sometimes make it very difficult to walk your dog, especially during winter. That’s when exercising a dog indoors becomes an important part of their routine. Making sure you give your dog plenty of indoor exercise will help them avoid becoming overweight, unfit and bored. All of which can lead to other problems. A game of indoor fetch, hide-and-seek or an obstacle course are great ways to keep them active. Invest in a treadmill for indoor dog walks or join some doggy classes to get you both out of the house.

Are stairs good exercise for dogs?

When it comes to thinking of different ideas for exercising a dog indoors, using the stairs is a great way to keep them fit and tire them out. There are several benefits of stair exercise for your dog, such as:

  • Strengthening exercise
  • Cardiovascular exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Improve coordination
  • Mental stimulation
  • Builds hind end muscle

It can be as simple as you standing at the top of the stairs and throwing a toy down to them. Once they’ve grabbed hold of the toy, call their name and get them to bring the toy up to you.

Is going up and down stairs bad for dogs?

Some dogs will speed up and down stairs without any problems at all. However, for some dogs, stairs can be a huge problem. They may not even be able to manage them at all. There are certain breeds of dog that find stairs particularly difficult to negotiate because of their build or size. Dogs with short legs and long backs, such as the Bassett Hound, Corgi and Dachshund, should be discouraged from using stairs. Stair exercise is also not generally recommended for:

  • Tiny dog breeds
  • Dogs with genetic health problems
  • Older dogs
  • Dogs recovering from injury
  • Dogs with a vestibular disease which can affect balance

Stair safety for dogs

If you choose the stairs as a way of exercising a dog indoors, there are certain safety issues you should keep in mind. Such as:

  • Teach your dog how to walk up the stairs before you start exercising them.
  • Watch for any signs of overexertion and consult your vet if you have any concerns.
  • Ensure the stairs are not slippery or open at the back.
  • Young puppies, especially those under 3 months old may not be suitable for stair exercise.

How can I exercise my dog without walking?

Walking is no doubt one of the best ways to exercise your dog, both mentally and physically. However, there are alternative ways you can give your pup the exercise they need (while also tiring them out). From a simple game of hide-and-seek or chasing bubbles to a game of tug-of-war or even setting up an obstacle course in your home. Exercising a dog indoors can be a lot of fun and who knows, can even keep you fit and active too!