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3 Best Indoor Exercises for Dogs (2024 Guide)

When bad weather hits, tire out your dog or puppy with these three indoor exercises for dogs.

Written by: Rachel Brix, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, Fear Free Certified

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

3 Best Indoor Exercises for Dogs (2024 Guide)

Rain or any other kind of inclement weather means less time outside, so how can we tire a dog out without walking or play with a puppy indoors? Being inside with your dog doesn’t have to be dull. Check out these three indoor exercise boredom-busting activities for dogs.

The 3 Top Indoor Exercises for Dogs

1. Train your dog for mental indoor exercise

Mental exercise can be more tiring than physical exercise! Rewards-based training helps build skills, boost confidence and improve your bond with your dog. Teach puppies or brush up on life skills like:

Check out this video if you need a visual. Find It is also a great skill to teach that translates to many other activities and games. Or turn it up a notch and try some trick training.

2. Mix in Free Work for indoor exercise

The concept of Free Work, originated by Sarah Fisher, helps build confidence, especially helping anxious and overreactive dogs. The idea is to encourage interaction and choice with a variety of objects that vary in size, texture and level of engagement. Use a spare room, basement or even a garage and set up an interactive course with safe things you have around the house; preferably things he’s not seen before or find things at rummage sales or thrift stores. There’s no timeline and your job is to just observe: you learn a lot about your dog by allowing him the space and time to engage at his pace. Some well-placed treats or kibble can get the party started. See a video example of Free Work here.

3. Do nose/scent work for indoor exercise

All dogs experience much of the world through their noses. Combining brain power with nose power is a win-win for enrichment.

  • Start with 4 to 5 smallish boxes, with flaps open and a yummy treat inside each. Keep your dog out of sight.
  • Place the boxes in a well-spaced row on the floor in room with minimal/no distractions.
  • Allow your dog in to see the boxes. Be patient and allow him time to show interest in the boxes and get the treats. Mark/click when he does.
  • Start with shallow boxes if your dog shows signs of apprehension with deeper ones.

Gradually work up to closing flaps, closing the whole box, increasing the space between boxes, hiding boxes, placing boxes on elevated surfaces. This could take several sessions.

See a video example of indoor scent work here.

Regardless of weather, engaging your dog indoors for exercise can be an easy way to add spice to any day. Of course, you can always just play and be silly and go with the flow; spending quality time is always a good time. Life is short — play with your dog!

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