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10 ways to exercise your dog indoors

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

But if you’re stuck inside and walkies just aren’t an option, you might have to get a little 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

Cartoon dog running after tennis ball

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

Cartoon dog pulling a rope toy

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

Cartoon dog playing a game with hidden food

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

Cartoon dog sitting in front of a food bowl

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 for 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 trick 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

Cartoon dog walking on a 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 will need to regularly exercise your dog indoors.

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

6. Set up an obstacle course

Carton dog looking at treats on a chair

Set up your own indoor agility course – create safe but fun route through your house that forces that 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 

Cartoon dog using treat dispensing ball

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

With plenty of products on the market, you’ll be spoilt for choice. 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.

Simple choose a toy that is suitable for the size of your dog 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 puzzles toys, available in the PitPat Life Prize Store.

8. Blow bubbles

Cartoon dog playing in garden with 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 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

Cartoon dog swimming in paddling pool

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 make sure your dog is supervised and enjoying the water – if they are uncomfortable, opt for a different exercise that they will enjoy instead. 

10. Try out doggy yoga

Cartoon dog doing 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 that they can participate in (should they wish to). 

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 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 become a PitPat Life member, you’ll even earn points for hitting exercise goals which can be exchanged for some of our carefully selected prizes.

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