It can be tough being stuck in the house with your dog all day. Bad weather and getting sick are unavoidable parts of life. Still, dogs need to stretch their legs and chase squirrels around in a nice big area. Those things are quite difficult to do in a house.
But just because you and your pet are stuck indoors, doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in any exercise. Keep in mind that the word ‘exercise’ isn’t limited to physical activities. Dogs need to work their brains just as much as humans do. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of physical and mental exercises that your dog can do while in the house!
So the next time life challenges you to stay indoors with your dog, accept it! You’ll be ready.
This is by far the most recognizable activity that we can do with our dogs. You don’t even need a ton of space to do it. You can simply use the hallway. To make things a bit more challenging, add in small obstacles, like pillows.
2) Hide & Seek
Dogs love hide and seek! Besides, it’s a great way for them to work both their physical and mental abilities. The more involved, the better! It’s also a great way to reinforce recall training. You and your family can take turns hiding. Simply say your dog’s name and when found, give them a reward.
They might even want to try hiding themself!
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? There are so many tricks to teach your dog. Many involve challenging your dog both mentally and physically. Just remember the idea of positive reinforcement! Treats, treats, and belly rubs!
4) Obstacle course
Whether you decide to buy one or make one of your own, it’s a great way for your dog to get some exercise. Use blankets, pillows, doggy bowls, hula hoops, anything you can find, to create a fun and challenging obstacle course. Don’t forget to reward them for encouragement.
5) Nose work
Another fun activity is training your dog to use their nose. Have them sniff out hidden treats to sharpen their skills. If you prefer not to use treats, try using a toy. Simply allow them to get the scent from the toy before hiding it. To make things more challenging, rub the toy around the house beforehand before hiding it.
If you have stairs indoors, use them! Ideally, the stairs should be carpeted to keep them from slipping and sliding. Keep in mind that you might have to motivate them by running by their side!
7) Online canine conditioning classes
We all know that there are online classes for humans but who knew that they had them for canines too? Though they’re usually given to puppies who are involved in competitive sports, any healthy dog can do them. The benefits include muscle strengthening, sharpened agility, and improved balance.
If you and your dog are stuck inside, have them help you with the chores. Tie a towel around the door handle of the fridge and teach them to open it. Maybe teach them how to turn off of the lights. There are so many possibilities!
9) Tug of war
This is a great form of exercise. However, don’t overdue it! Doing so can lead to aggression. Keep it light but make sure they know who the alpha is. It should be fun.
10) Keep away
This is also known as the “Monkey” game when another person is involved. Just toss a toy back and forth, keeping it away from the dog. Your dog will be as sharp as a tack as they focus on the toy.
11) Obedience training
Teach your dog obedience! It’s never too late. Giving them commands will greatly strengthen their mind.
If you have one of these in the house, tell your dog to hop on! Often, dogs become distracted when going for a walk on the town or in a park. These distractions can be eliminated with a treadmill. In addition, you’ll be able to control the speed and terrain.
13) New toys
Introduce new toys to your dog. This will keep them exploring and investigating new things. Also, every toy serves a purpose. New toys can mean new games and a ton of exercise.
14) Indoor swimming
If you have a tub or maybe even a pool big enough for your dog to swim in, use it! If you have a puppy, even better. Fill the tub up with water and teach them to doggy paddle! Just be careful not to instill fear of the water in them. Be gentle.
Just like humans, dogs need massages too. Massaging might not be the most physical thing your dog can do, but, it helps with flexibility and circulation. Once these things improve, your dog is going to want to move even more! Other benefits include increased oxygen flow to the blood, pain and muscle relief, alleviation of anxiety, and improved immunity.
16) Scavenger hunt
Instead of giving your dog their full meal at once, make them work for it. Place portions of their food in different places around the house. Hide them in more challenging places as they progress. This way, they literally have to hunt for their food!
17) Give your dog a job
Assign your dog some duties just like you would your child. Giving your dog a job is much like giving a human one. They will be forced to use their brain and when they suceed, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
18) Doggy playdate
Social interaction is imperative for dogs. Being inside doesn’t mean that they need to be shut off from the world. If you’re able, set your dog up on a date. Not that type of date! Invite another dog over or simply set up a camera for the two to interact with each other via video chat. That should keep them busy!
19) Magic tricks
Performing magic tricks for your dog is a great way to keep them engaged. Besides, you’ll love to watch their reactions. Talk about priceless.
20) Interactive feeder
Food puzzles are fun and rewarding for your dog. These mentally challenge your dog by stimulating their problem-solving skills. They also slow down your pet’s eating! There are many out on the market so feel free to change them up every now and then.
21) Puppy push-ups
Did you know that your dog can do push-ups with you? Even if you can’t, why not teach your dog how to do them? Essentially, your dog will start off sitting and with the use of treats, you’ll guide them to lay down and then sit up again. Once they’ve mastered this, you can add in standing.
22) Name the toys
Teach your dog the names of their toys! Sure, it’s repetitive but once they get it, you’ll be thrilled. Who doesn’t want a smart dog?
23) Put toys away
It can be done! Dogs are like children; they leave their things laying around everywhere. But also like children, they can be taught to pick up after themselves. Wouldn’t it be nice not having to worry about stepping on another toy?
24) Clicker training
The key to clicker training is positive reinforcement. You’ll need lots of treats because you want to give a treat right after you click. That way, they’ll associate their reward to the click.
It’s true. Your dog is capable of learning to count. Talk about pushing their intellectual abilities! But remember to be patient, this is tricky stuff!
26) The shell game
It’s the same way we play it with humans. All you need are three plastic cups and an object to hide. Show your dog the object and place it under one of the cups. Then mix them up. Now, let your dog choose the cup that the object is hidden under.
27) The muffin tin game
Similar to the shell cup game, place a treat in a muffin tray (your dog may watch). Then, place a tennis ball over various muffin holes. Now, have your dog find the holes with the treats!
28) Nina Ottosson dog puzzels and games
Nina Ottosson is a well-known name in the dog toy world, specifically, games that challenge your dog mentally. Her games are rated by difficulty with one being the least challenging to three being the most challenging. Check out her line of games here!
29) Attend class
Take your dog to class! They’ll engage in activities with other dogs and learn new tricks. You both might even make some new friends!
30) Hop-on/off, Over/under
If you don’t have the space for an obstacle course, you can practice the good ‘ol hop on, hop off and the over and under. Your dog will be tired in no time. You might need a breather as well.
We hope you try some of these activities with your dogs. There is so much to do!
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