Depending on where you live around the world, my tips for exercising a dog indoors will come in handy during some of the challenges many dog owners currently face.
Whether you are currently in strict COVID lockdown and can’t walk your dog outside at all. Or, the upcoming Summer heat or Winter freeze will make it tough to take your dog outside for walk as often as usual. It is vital that our dogs are still kept physically (and mentally!) active indoors, to help keep anxiety and boredom at bay for both you and your dog’s benefit.
Dogs rely on routine
Dogs love routine and need daily exercise and time outside of the home. While sadly far too many dogs still do not get this, for those dogs that are used to their regular daily walks being in lock down, or kept inside when it is too hot or cold to walk in the elements, can causes problems for both the dog and owner. Even more so for the high energy dog breeds and social dogs that rely on that physical outlet to keep them in check.
A dog that is not getting the mental and physical stimulation they need each day generally becomes bored or anxious, which leads to many dog behaviour issues including barking, digging, chewing and other destructive behaviour.
It can also cause dogs to become frustrated and potentially lead to aggressive outbursts, so it is important to ensure their brains and bodies are kept busy with plenty of environmental enrichment, including brain games and family playtime, which can be done indoors when you can’t walk your dog outside.
How Eat, Play Love (Your Dog) can help
In my book Eat, Play, Love (Your Dog) I outline many ways you can keep your dog entertained and physically fit indoors and in your own back yard, which includes a number of tips and tricks for keeping dogs mentally and physically fit and healthy by exercising a dog indoors. (If you live in Australia you can buy my book HERE, or order via Amazon in your country HERE)
Get their bodies moving
Brain games such as a treat treasure hunt can be fun for both you and your dog. This involves using treats or their kibble and hiding it around the house or garden and teaching them to go search it out.
This is particularly great for dogs as it taps into their most important sense, smell, releasing endorphins that make them feel good. It also encourages them to use their brain for problem-solving which improves their cognitive skills and also mimics how they would spend their days foraging for food in the wild, which works both their bodies and their brains.
Physical games such as tug-of-war, frisbee or fetch are also great ways to increase your dog’s exercise levels, plus all of these activities help build a greater bond with your dog. These can be played in the yard or inside the home.
A simple but fun one for both adults and kids is to play a game of hide and seek. Find a hiding spot and call your dog’s name so they come searching for you. It’s always a great laugh when you see their excitement once they have found you.
Obedience training can help too
You can also use the time exercising a dog indoors to work on your obedience training and teach your dog tricks.
By combining obedience training, physical games and brain games throughout the day you can really help your dog through being stuck inside. It will also provide the humans in the family with some fun and entertainment too.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.