Going to the dog park to burn off energy isn't always in the cards, but you can always have fun indoors. Of course, exercising your little guy in the house does come with a few problems. But a few games and exercises are perfectly suited for small quarters, and you can always move furniture.
A little game of chase might tire you out faster than your dog, but your pooch will still get quite the workout. Get your pal excited and interested by squeaking a toy, clapping your hands or making odd, but not scary, noises. And then turn into the roadrunner, sprinting through your house and turning your pup into Wile E. Coyote. Use as much of your house as you can, but avoid stairs. Overly excited canines and stairs don’t always mix well. When your pup’s a few feet behind you, Karen London, a certified applied animal behaviorist and columnist for “The Bark,” suggests turning around and handing him a treat or toy to prevent nipping. Ms. London also warns against chasing your dog so you don’t negate the recall command.
A game of fetch in the house is the granddaddy of inside exercise games. You don’t have to move from the couch and fetch is a game almost all dogs enjoy. Balls are usually the toy of choice, since they bounce and roll well, but you can play fetch with just about anything your pal enjoys, providing it’s not heavy or hard enough to dent your walls or break something.
Your pup needs mental exercise in addition to physical exercise. Puzzles are an ideal mental stimulant indoors. You can create your own puzzles or purchase treat dispensers. Opt for dispensers with varying levels of difficulty or various puzzles so your pup doesn't master the dispenser too quickly. Creating your own puzzles is free -- think cardboard boxes and other materials that you can hide your pup’s toys and treats inside and create obstacles out of -- and you can switch up the puzzles daily. Note that while treat dispensers shrink your wallet, they do offer something that homemade puzzles do not: entertainment for your pup when you're away and he's home alone.
Tug might not wear down your pooch like chase or fetch, but it’s nonetheless an indoor exercise that helps him spend some of his energy. Tough toys, such as ropes, heavy duty rubber toys and toys with multiple layers of fabric and stitching, work best for tug. When you’re ready to play, grab your pup’s toy. Say "tug" or something similar and dangle it in front of him until he takes it. Shake the toy and pull it gently to get him in the mood. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests allowing the game to continue for 10 to 20 seconds, and then saying “drop.” If your pup knows that command, he should drop it on cue. If he doesn’t, stop tugging and show him a treat. When he releases the toy to inspect the treat, give him the snack and start the game over.
No matter the size of your house, play space is limited by doors, counters, chairs, desks and other items and furniture. Offer your pup as much space as possible to prevent injuries and accidents. Move chairs out of the way, push easily movable furniture against walls and clear the floor of items your pup can trip over or step on, such as the vacuum cleaners or the laundry basket.
By Chris Miksen
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Teaching Your Dog to Play Tug-of-War
The Bark: Five Running Games to Play with Your Dog
Wisconsin Humane Society: Enrich His Mind and Save Your Shoes
About the Author
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.