Just as with humans, our dogs need regular exercise to help them look and feel great. However, the winter season or rain can make it difficult to provide them with daily walks. Here are some safe and effective ways to keep your pup entertained when you’re both stuck indoors.
If you’re careful, games of fetch can be just as fun in the house as they would be in the backyard. We recommend using a hallway if space is an issue for you. Use a soft toy or ball if you’re worried about accidentally breaking valuable objects, or better yet, put them in a safe place during the game. Some dogs will play fetch for hours at a time, so this game is a great way to keep them busy during those long, wintry days.
Tug of War
Tug of war is another easy way to give your dog some exercise. We recommend a sturdier toy for this game, but an old piece of cloth will work in a pinch. Teach your dog to give up the tug toy on command. This is especially important if your dog plays with children on a regular basis. In my house, we use “that’s enough.” If you have a dog with back issues, tug of war may not be a good option for him.
Play Hide and Seek
Playing a game of hide and seek is a great way to exercise your dog’s body as well as her brain. You can also use this game to practice your dog’s recall. You’ll need some tasty treats in order to play this game.
You can play hide and seek in one of two ways. One way is simply to hide treats in various places around your house for your dog to find. Keep things easy at first, so he gets the idea. Once he understands the game, you can hide treats in increasingly challenging locations. The second way is to literally play hide and seek with your dog. Either have your dog stay in his place or ask another family member to hold his collar while you hide. Again, keep it easy at first, so your dog doesn’t get discouraged. Call his name and give him a treat once he finds you. This game tends to be a big hit with children. Try it out the next time your kids have a snow day!
Indoor Obstacle Courses
Indoor obstacle courses are wonderful ways to increase your dog’s focus and confidence. If you have enough space, try creating an obstacle course for your dog using items already in the house. Teach your pup to run through a hula hoop. Make a tunnel out of old couch cushions and teach him to run through it. You can also get him used to different surfaces by having him walk on a skateboard or ladder, if you have room. Try turning over an old garbage can and teaching your dog to put his paws on it. All of these things will give your dog a physical, as well as a mental workout!
Try a Training Class
If you’re a new pet parent, or if you’re just wanting to polish your pup’s training, try enrolling him in a class. There are puppy classes, basic obedience classes, and even dock diving classes. These are usually indoors, and generally they’re not very expensive. If you’re considering a sport like agility or flyball, we recommend consulting your veterinarian before signing up to be sure your pooch can safely participate. D your research before working with a trainer. Talk to family and friends, look at reviews online, and try to observe a class before enrolling your dog. It’s important to be comfortable with the trainer you choose.
Utilize Dog-friendly Stores
If possible, take your pup on an outing to a pet-friendly store. Pet supply and feed stores tend to be the best options, especially if your dog hasn’t ever gone on an outing. Taking your dog shopping can be lots of fun for him because he can pick out a toy or two, but it can also be a great place to walk him if he’s feeling cooped up. Pet-friendly stores also make excellent training opportunities. Be sure and give your dog a chance to go potty before entering and keep him close to you while inside. Don’t allow him to greet other dogs in the store. While your dog may be friendly, the other dog may not be as outgoing. Practicing basic obedience in a pet store is a great way to work on focus and self-control, and a great way for your dog to make friends with the staff or other shoppers!
With a little creativity and patience, you and your dog can have a great time exercising indoors. As always, consult your veterinarian before starting any strenuous exercise program. Do you have any other indoor exercise tips? Feel free to share them in the comments!
By: Shanna Stichler