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10 ways to exercise your dog indoors

No matter the weather, your dog needs daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

But if you’re stuck inside and walkies aren’t an option, you might have to get creative with your dog’s exercise routine. We’ve come up with 10 great ways you can exercise your dog indoors to wear them out physically and mentally.

1. Get them running

A really simple way to get your dog’s heart rate going is to get them running. If you have a garden, get out there and throw a ball around with them, or if you’re stuck indoors, try rolling balls down a hallway or in a large room (just remember to move anything breakable!)

Teaser or ‘flirt’ poles are a great addition to your dog’s arsenal of toys – it’s a long stick with a toy attached to the end, enabling you to quickly move the toy just out of reach, so they’ll be darting around trying to grab it – you’ll be impressed at how quickly they move.

Of course, these activities are only suitable for fit, healthy dogs and are to be avoided if your dog is old, has health issues, arthritis or joint problems.

2. Play with your dog

There’s no doubt that dogs love to play. In fact, we love playtime so much that we made it trackable with a PitPat.

Luckily, there are plenty of games that you can safely play indoors to keep your dog active and mentally stimulated. Just move all breakables out of harm’s way, grab a soft ball or toy and play fetch, keep away or tug.

Just make sure you and your dog are playing respectfully with each other – look out for their body language and be ready to pause play if things are getting a bit too heated.

3. Hide and seek

A game of hide and seek not only gets your dog moving around the house and garden but also gets their brain working – great for keeping them entertained when you’re stuck at home for the day.

Hide some of your dog’s favourite treats in a room, around the house or in the garden. Start off by making it nice and easy for them to find and gradually get more difficult, forcing them to figure out how to retrieve the treat they’ve sniffed out. You might need to guide them to the first few treats so that they understand the game.

Once they have found all the treats, reward them with a good play session to burn off those calories. And don’t forget to account for the treat in their diet for the day.

You could even involve the family in the game – have family members go and hide around the house and send your pup to track them down.

4. Learn some new tricks

Sit, shake, stay – even if you’ve got the basics nailed, there are plenty of new tricks you and your pup can learn with a little time, patience and a bag of their favourite toys and treats.

If you’re struggling with ideas for new tricks, there are loads of videos online. How about getting them to cross their paws on demand? Give a woof when asked to speak? What about the impressive ‘play dead’?

Learning new tricks together is not only a fantastic bonding experience but is also fantastic for your dog’s mental stimulation so that they are happy and satisfied at the end of the day.

5. Jump on the treadmill

If you’re lucky enough to own your own treadmill, how about getting your dog on it as well? You’ll need to introduce them carefully, with a lot of encouragement, and use the lowest speeds to start off with. Once they are comfortable at those speeds, you can increase the rate or incline to get them working harder.

You can even buy specially made canine treadmills, which come in handy if you need to regularly exercise your dog indoors.

Remember, never tie your pup to the treadmill and always supervise them when using it in case of accidents. 

6. Set up an obstacle course

Set up your own indoor agility course – create a safe but fun route through your house that forces them to clamber and crawl over and under obstacles, figure out new ways round and more. Move furniture around, use crates, create tunnels and jumps and encourage them around the course with their favourite toy or treat.

It’ll get their heart pumping and their brain working. Top it off with playtime with their favourite toy and lots of fuss as a reward.

7. Use food puzzles 

Food puzzles are products designed to make your dog work for their supper. It’s a tough mental challenge and helps to stop them from guzzling their dinner in one fell swoop.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with plenty of products on the market. Some toys will keep them quiet and busy, whereas others will make them throw or roll the toy around to get their tasty reward, so they get a bit of activity in as well.

Simply choose a toy suitable for your dog’s size and fill it with their favourite food or treats. Stick with slightly easier puzzles to begin with and work them up to the tougher ones over time. 

If you’re a PitPat LIFE member, you could even exchange your points for some of our favourite food puzzle toys, available in the PitPat Life Prize Store.

8. Blow bubbles

Loved by dogs and kids alike, bubbles are a great distraction that’ll have your pooch chasing around in no time, especially if they have a strong prey drive. 

Make sure you use bubbles that will be safe for your dog and that won’t sting their eyes – you can even buy bacon or peanut butter flavoured bubbles and a bubble machine, so all you have to do is sit back and watch.

9. Go for swim

Ok, most people do not have the luxury of a swimming pool in their garden – but if your pooch is on the smaller side, they may be able to have a swim in a paddling pool or even your bathtub.

It’s a great exercise that is easy on the joints, and breeds that thrive on swimming will adore the chance to get their paws wet. If you can’t fit your dog in a paddling pool, why not turn your hose or sprinklers and watch them bounce around trying to catch the water?

Remember to ensure your dog is supervised and enjoying the water – if they are uncomfortable, opt for a different exercise they will enjoy instead. 

10. Try out doggy yoga

It’s the trend sweeping the nation – dog yoga or ‘Doga’ is here to stay. It combines a gentle, soothing massage for your dog with yoga positions they can participate in (should they wish). 

Together, you’ll complete gentle stretches, relax and bond closely with each other. There are plenty of training videos and examples online that you and your pup can follow, but don’t worry if your dog doesn’t quite get it – they’ll still benefit from the experience of watching you attempting the downward-facing dog pose!

Keeping your dog fit and healthy is the top priority, so if you can’t leave the house to exercise them for any reason, you’ll need to make sure you can keep track of their daily activity levels to prevent them from putting on weight

PitPat was designed to do just that. With the help of a lightweight device that is easily fitted to your dog’s collar, you can set their daily exercise goals based on our recommendations and track their activity levels and weight. 

You’ll be able to see how much walking, running, playing and pottering they have done each day and check their trends over time. If you decide to join PitPat LIFE, you’ll even earn points for hitting exercise goals which can be exchanged for some of our carefully selected prizes.

When you decide to head outside for some exercise (and sniffs!), then a PitPat Dog GPS Tracker can give you the confidence to let your dog roam freely off-lead. If you’re unsure about the best GPS tracker for you then read our simple breakdown of all the different options here.

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