How to Exercise Your Dog Indoors
Last month, when we talked about cold-weather walks, winter may have still seemed like a wonderland, both to you and your pup! But now that we’ve entered the dark heart of the cold season and everyone’s tired of braving negative temps—especially you—it’s the perfect time to discuss exercising your dog indoors. From toys to keep dogs busy to how to tire out your dog, here are our favorite ways to keep your furry friend occupied when it’s cold outside.
Toys to Keep Dogs Busy
As most dogfathers and dogmothers know, a bored dog is an unhappy dog—and often a naughty dog as well. When dogs are indoors for long periods of time, particularly if none of their humans happen to be home, they can default to destructive behaviors such as digging, chewing and “shopping” for treats in the trash. Some breeds (border collies, beagles and Jack Russels, we see you) need more attention and more vigilant supervision than others, so it’s imperative that you make mental stimulation part of your dog exercise program as well.
For those times when you’re wondering how to entertain your dog for hours, a puzzle or fetch toy can be a decent stand-in for you while you’re gone. If your dog is relatively contained in a pooch-proof area, we love the iFetch Mini Frenzy; he or she can drop the mini tennis ball in the top, and scramble for it when it shoots out of one of the toy’s three ports. If you have an debris-free hallway that can serve as an indoor dog run, the iFetch Mini Ball Launcher is another wonderful option; the launch length is adjustable for different-sized dogs and environments. One note, though: the balls included with the product are not terribly durable, so if your dog is a known chewer or will be alone with the toy for more than 30 minutes at a time we’d recommend swapping the tennis ball for a hard plastic ball.
If your dog is motivated by food—and let’s be honest, most are—you might also want to make a treat puzzle part of your dog exercise program. For this, we love the Kong Extreme Goodie Bone, which you can stuff with a snack, and the Ethical Pet Dura Brite Treat Ball, which provides hours of healthy challenges for most dogs. And finally, for the extra-clever breeds mentioned above, we recommend any of Nina Ottoson’s interactive toys. They’re all great.
Exercising Your Dog Indoors
Of course, given the option, your dog will always prefer to be with you—whether indoors or out! So if you’re looking for a realistic dog exercise program you can do inside, our biggest suggestion is to be creative; look for ways to work your dog’s brain and body, and be sure to mix things up from day to day to avoid boredom.
Your dog exercise routine might include training your dog to jump through an old hula hoop, or a few minutes working with his or her favorite tug toy. You might create an impromptu indoor agility course you can work on together. Or you might challenge your pooch to a game of hide-and-seek, with YOU as the prize. After a session or two each, you should be able to tell which activities your doggo seems to enjoy the most.
And, while there are treadmills designed specifically for dogs, most pooches that will tolerate a treadmill of any kind should do just fine on the human variety. Ask your vet if your dog is a good candidate. There are zillions of articles and tutorials on dog treadmill training, but this one contains critical information about getting your pup used to the gadget prior to stepping on it.
A couple of safety caveats for any dog exercise program that involves a treadmill:
- You can use a leash to guide your dog to the treadmill during the early treadmill training stages, but don’t ever tie your dog to the machine. EVER.
- Even once your pooch has the hang of it, you should be with them at all times.
- Unfamiliarity with the idea and workings of the treadmill will naturally increase your dog’s heart rate in the beginning. Start with very short training sessions and gradually work up to your dog’s regular walk duration and speed.
And of course, when you and your dog to decide to brave those silly, chilly temps, your PoopChute Dog Waste Bag Dispenser can help you contain the doo…so you can do you.