Who doesn’t love cuddling up on the couch with their dog, binging on Netflix and popcorn? We all enjoy that special bonding time with our furry friends, but it is important to keep up the healthy activities at the same time. If the weather is bad or you don’t have transportation to the dog park, you may be wondering how you can give your dog the exercise they need. If this is the case, check out the following eight fun activities that will keep you both entertained and healthy when you have to remain indoors.
1. Run Up and Down the Steps
This is the perfect activity when you are just as eager for exercise as your dog. If your house has a large flight of stairs, let your dog follow you up and down. Just be careful that he doesn’t trip you either way! This is the perfect exercise, especially for a puppy or young dog that has seemingly endless amounts of energy.
Another alternative to stairs is your dog ramp, especially for small dogs. You can create an agility ramp or incline the dog ramp so your pooch can go up and down. Make sure to visit The Pampered Pup to know which dog ramp models are sturdy and recommended by dog experts.
However, an older dog with joint problems or health issues may have trouble with this particular exercise, so make sure your dog is healthy enough before you try it.
2. Walking on a Treadmill
According to the American Kennel Club, your treadmill can provide your dog with indoor exercise all year-round. While there are actual dog treadmills on the market, you can use one meant for humans for almost every dog breed. Just remember, it takes time to train your pup to use a treadmill, and they should never be forced on one if they are scared. The first step will be to simply provide your dog a treat for getting on the treadmill. Once they have become comfortable with that, turn the treadmill on to let them hear the noise. Only then should you start them off at a slow pace. Always provide treats as positive reinforcement, and never leave your dog unsupervised on a treadmill.
3. Food Puzzle Toys
There are plenty of stimulating food puzzle dog toys that will exercise your dog’s mind and body. Instead of just handing your dog a treat while he lounges on the couch, make him work for it instead. A food puzzle will be made from a sturdy material, such as plastic or hard rubber, which allows dogs to bite and pull at the toy without harming it. Simply fill the inside of the puzzle with their favorite treats, and then let them at it! Your dog will have to push, shake, roll, and paw at the puzzle in order to get the treats out.
Food puzzles are wonderful toys when your dog is bored and needs some mental stimulation. It will get them off of the couch and focused on getting the treats they love! They are also quite useful for times when your dog is left alone. Food puzzles are even known to reduce destructive behaviors in pets that experience separation anxiety.
4. Play a Game of Fetch
Sure, fetch is usually a game you play outdoors in an open field or side yard. But we’re betting you have the space to play a smaller version of the game indoors! Go down to your basement, sit on opposite ends of the living room, or head to a long hallway. Start by throwing your dog their favorite toy or another small item that you don’t mind drool on. We can almost guarantee that your dog will have fun catching and chasing their toys and then bringing them back to you. You may even notice that your dog enjoys playing fetch inside more than outside. If this is the case, it may be because there are fewer distractions when you are in your living room versus being outdoors. There are no honking cars, chirping birds, and frisky squirrels to distract them when they play inside.
5. Enjoy Tug-of-War
A good old-fashioned game of tug-of-war will provide your dog with plenty of exercise. He probably will want to play long after you are tired! Some people believe that playing tug-of-war can lead your dog to learn aggressive behaviors, but you can curb this issue by playing responsibly. You can even use this game to teach your dog about boundaries and rules. The first rule is to only play when you start the game. If your dog initiates the game, they learn that they are in control. The second rule is to never let their mouth touch any part of you during the game. And finally, “drop it!” means just that. As long as you implement these safety features, your dog will enjoy a good amount of exercise from an indoor game of tug-of-war.
6. Create an Obstacle Course
An obstacle course inside is a fun way to mentally and physically challenge your dog when you want them to get some exercise. There are many obstacle course pieces you can purchase that are specifically designed for dogs who enjoy this activity. However, you don’t need fancy equipment to engage your dog in this fun endeavor. It’s easy to set up your own obstacle course using simple items from around your home. Pull cushions off of the couch, set up chair and table forts, and build a tunnel. Design a small obstacle that your dog will have to jump over in order to get to you. Then, have a blast! If your dog has never done an obstacle course before, you’ll have to guide them through it. Use lots of treats and positive reinforcement at every step in the beginning. Soon, your dog will be flying through the course like a pro! He’ll also be getting the exercise he needs at the same time.
7. Indoor Swimming
While this won’t be a feasible option for all dog owners, indoor swimming is a fun and unique way for some dogs to exercise when they are stuck in the house. If your dog is small enough to comfortably move around your bathtub, fill up the tub with warm water and supervise them as they swim and splash around. This is a good exercise for puppies who are small enough to swim around and have energy to burn. When you’re done, take a minute to give them a quick bath and then dry them off in a fluffy dog towel. Your dog will be tired out from all of the swimming as well as clean!
8. Play Hide and Seek
You can play a game of hide and seek with yourself or with treats. You, and other members of your family, should run off and hide one at a time. Then, call your dog by his name until he seeks you out! Bring along treats to reward him for his efforts, and we can almost guarantee he’ll play a long time. You can also hide treats around the room for your dog to find. Either way is a great way to give your dog the exercise he needs when you can’t go outside.
These eight games will help your dog stay active even when you can’t get out of the house. Have fun!