When it’s winter or when we’re just being lazy, it would be great to have a few indoor exercises for dogs right up our sleeve. That way, we don’t feel guilty for not going out since our pet is still getting a lot of exercise done (sometimes even more!) Now, this cannot be an excuse to give up on daily walks and runs in the park — but these indoor exercises below are fun alternatives.
1. Setup a Fun Obstacle Course
Obvious but rarely used is the obstacle course for dogs. Use some chair, furniture, even clothes, and train your dog to dash through it properly. Start slow, correct every single mistake, and keep on leveling up! If you have a strong DIY spirit, you can even come up with your very own indoor agility course right in your lounge area. Your dog will absolutely love it! Simply make sure everything is safe dog dog-proofed to avoid silly accidents. Make use of rolled up blankets, towels, cardboard boxes, broomsticks, aluminum and anything else you can think of that can make a potential obstacle to avoid, jump over or go through.
2. Use a Smart Interactive Toy
If you are planning on leaving your home for a few hours and you want to distract your dog for a while, dog puzzle toys are exactly what you need. A lot of dog owners passionate about dog breeding tend to buy a few of those to keep young puppies busy, and it works. Smart or interactive toys are holding one or several treats in them and require dogs to figure out the correct way to unlock and release the treats. They can be very easy, such as a ball with a small hole from where treats come out of. Or, they may require a lot more mental work, like with multi-step puzzles to solve before seeing a treat. For a high level of difficulty, Nina Ottosson toys are a hit! However, don’t overestimate your dog because too much difficulty and you will get him frustrated. So yes, your pooch is the smartest ever but try to be objective (I know it’s tough…)
3. Do Some Nose Work (ie. Sniffing)
Get a piece of cheese. Hide it very obviously near your dog. Let him find it. Reward. Hide it a little less obviously. Let him find it. Reward. Repeat. Again. And again.
After a while, you’ll have to hide the smelly cheese in a drawer or on a chair inside a little box. And your dog will start sniffing around for a very long while. This is a super draining exercise for dogs because it makes them focus completely on this task. If you can see your dog enjoying this nose work training, you may want to try and go further in that direction with a homemade professional sniff dog training. The good thing with nose work is that you don’t need to buy anything; you can literally start right now.
4. Train Your Dog With New Tricks
We’ve all seen viral videos on Facebook of dogs doing things even us as Humans cannot do. Well, that’s what you should do indoors. Obviously not exactly what these guys are doing but you can have your own easier version of those tricks! Mental stimulation is tiring for dogs and they often go to bed right after so trick training is the way to go! Always keep training sessions short and reward heavily at each good execution so your dog keeps on wanting to carry on.
There are several websites offering how to’s on dog tricks; my favorites are:
- Zak George’s Dog Training rEvolution on YouTube
- Doggie Buddy’s List of Tricks
- Training Positive’s Tricks on YouTube
You won’t succeed after a single session but you should see progress at each session if you are doing things right. Some tricks may take weeks to be fully learnt and completed.
5. Invest in a Fancy Dog Treadmill
For those you prefer to have an athletic dog over a smart one, you can invest in a treadmill for dogs. The quality treadmills such as the Dog Pacer are usually priced around the $500-mark. Definitely not cheap, but very much worth it for those who love adventure and conditioning. Similar to those for us humans, dog treadmills offer a variety of settings to change speed and inclination, as well as presets and customized training programs. This is extremely useful if your dog is competing in a canine sport such as pulling, sledding. A treadmill is also great just to enjoy a fit look at conformation shows! Never put your dog on a human treadmill or you will risk a serious accident. Human versions have a motor placement that could catch your dog’s hair, the track is usually shorter and dog treadmills are much quieter by design.
Keeping a dog satisfied with indoor exercises is actually easier than most people think. Exercising a dog isn’t limited to running around or fetching. There are so much mental exercises dogs love to do but owners just never think about.
This article was graciously written for PuppyToob.com by Breeding Business, the free only magazine educating ethical dog breeders around the world.