7 Genius Indoor Dog Exercises and Activities (Plus 4 Products to Help, Too)

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Whether you’re stuck inside with your dog due to an unexpected blizzard or an unprecedented global pandemic, that pup will need some exercise. Canines require mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom, anxiety and obesity. Not unlike humans, right? Help your pup stay fit (and happy!) with these entertaining indoor exercises and products.

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dog indoor exercise activities

Activities To Keep Your Dog Busy Indoors

It should be noted that some of these activities work best for specific types of homes and sizes of dogs. Whenever you attempt something new, do it as safely as possible. If your apartment can’t handle one activity, move on to another. You don’t want your Great Dane sliding into your ceramic mug collection—or your toddler.

Pro tip from Cesar Milan and good advice for anyone working from home these days: Provide structure for indoor playtime. Your dog needs to know the boundaries of playtime! Without them, he could start to engage in destructive behavior.

1. Stair climbers

If you have stairs in your home, do a few sets of stair climbers with your dog (this is also a fun, athletic bonding activity). If you don’t want to join him, play fetch on the stairs. Toss a ball down to the bottom and let him scramble back up for more.

2. Treadmill cardio

Honestly, if you’ve got a treadmill and you can teach your dog to walk on it, why not? Start super slowly until your dog gets a feel for it. Some pups may be afraid of a moving walkway at first (or forever), so be sure your dog is safe before you up the pace.

3. House tour

If your dog likes to follow you around, make him work for it! Take a tour of your own house to get his (and your) steps in for the day. This is a great time to listen to a podcast or take a break and bring your pup along with you. Feel free to visit a few rooms more than once.

4. Doggie sit-ups

Sit-ups, but make them dog-friendly. Practice your sit, down and up commands (or whatever version you use to make your dog sit down, lie down and stand up) in sets of ten. At breaks or between intervals, offer treats to keep the momentum, if needed.

5. Teach new skills

Try teaching your dog a brand-new skill or trick. This can also double as a fun activity for the kids. Commands like shake, roll over, kiss and stand up (on hind legs) are all fun options, depending on how tall your dog is.

6. Hide-and-seek with treats

This can take several forms. First, you can literally hide a treat in your home and tell your dog to find it (this may work best at first in just one room). This is good physical exercise.

Second, you can incorporate a little magic into it for some mental exercise. This trick comes from a couple who lives on a sailboat with their golden retriever. The boat is no more than ten feet wide, yet they told Go Pet Friendly they’re still able to make indoor exercise work. Here’s how: Place a treat on a table and cover it with a plastic cup. Place another plastic cup upside down next to the one with the treat. Move them around to confuse your dog. Where is the treat hiding? If he guesses correctly, he gets the treat! Once he gets really good at the game, add more cups to keep his mind going.

7. Keep away

This works best with two people (tug-of-war is a better option if it’s just you and your pup). Stand a good distance away and toss a ball or toy back and forth between the two of you without letting your dog catch it. He’ll end up running tons of little sprints back and forth to get his heart rate up! Be sure to reward him with the toy or a treat when the game ends.

Products To Keep Your Dog Busy Inside

Sometimes there’s just too much to juggle to keep your dog exercising regularly on your own. This is where certain products come in very handy. There’s no shame in setting out a few activities and letting your dog go solo for a bit. In fact, this can build confidence and decrease separation anxiety.

1. Trixie Activity Flipboard Interactive Dog Toy

Tossing treats into an interactive treat dispenser is a great way to keep your pup’s mind working. Having a few on hand is a good idea so you can change it up every now and then, especially if your dog is a genius.

2. Pacer Minipacer Treadmill

Who needs a human treadmill when you can invest in a doggy treadmill? This is compact enough for apartments and durable enough that your dog can take a walk anytime he wants without bothering you for the leash. Also, it’s hilarious.

3. Ifetch Mini Automatic Ball Launcher

Let technology do the hard work (throwing a ball) so you can hop on that video conference call and your pup can get some exercise! This mini version is designed for small to medium-size dogs.

4. Squishy Face Studio Pole

This funky toy is like a fishing pole for dogs—except it’s got a bungee cord and a durable handle so you can keep your dog active while you remain in one spot. Ideally, for the standard size, you’ve got a 15-by-15-foot space with no obstacles.

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Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...