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How to Tire a Dog Out Without Walking: 10 Vet-Reviewed Alternatives

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by Dogster Team


How to Tire a Dog Out Without Walking: 10 Vet-Reviewed Alternatives


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Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Some dogs have very high energy levels, while others would love to spend the entire day lying on the couch. For dogs that don’t get tired easily, it can be difficult to find ways to wear them out. Whether your dog is too smart for their own good or extremely energetic, going for a daily walk around the block is unlikely to meet their physical or mental needs.

There are a lot of great ways you can work to tire your dog out without needing to walk for miles and miles, or in addition to your daily walk! So, let’s check out some of these below.

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The 10 Ways to Tire a Dog Out Without Walking

1. Training Sessions

Think about how tired you feel after sitting through school classes for the whole day—that’s often how your dog feels after a training session. The mental requirements of training sessions can help to make your dog feel tired with minimal physical activity. Training sessions can involve teaching your dog new tricks and commands or working toward mastery of commands they already know.

Most dogs will only focus on a training session for 10–20 minutes, so plan to keep these sessions short. The use of high-value rewards can be a great way to maintain your dog’s focus for as long as possible.

woman sitting and playing with dog outdoors
Image Credit: Richard Brutyo, Unsplash

2. Obstacle Course

Building an obstacle course for your dog can be a fun rainy-day activity for everyone in the family. You can make a simple obstacle course inside your house with things you already have at home, like cardboard boxes, pool noodles, and hula hoops. If you’re especially handy, you can even use templates from the internet to build true agility equipment for your yard.

Obstacle courses and agility training are both excellent ways to tire your dog out physically and mentally. If your dog seems especially interested in home obstacle courses, you may consider signing them up for agility classes.

3. Canine Sports and Activities

There are a variety of sports and activities that dogs can participate in, which means you have multiple options to match a sport to your dog. There are human-involved activities, like CaniCross, bikejoring, and snowjoring. If your dog seems more interested in independent activities, then they may prefer events like Fast CAT and Earthdog trials. Other high-energy activities that your dog may love include dock diving, search and rescue, and obedience competitions.

Airedale Terrier puppy dog playing scent work game outdoors
Image Credit: Ryan Brix, Shutterstock

4. Tug-of-War

Tug-of-war is one of the quintessential games that people play with their dogs. This game is a good option for wearing your dog out because it requires physical activity and mental work and is easy to learn. Many dogs naturally will play this game with you when it comes to a favorite toy, while other dogs may need to be trained on how to properly play the game.

A game of tug-of-war is also an opportune time to sneakily train your dog commands like “drop it” and “leave it.”

5. Hide-and-Seek/Tag

Like tug-of-war, hide-and-seek is an easy and fun game that just about any dog can play. It doesn’t require any equipment, and it can be combined with a game of tag for added exercise. Some dogs may not fully understand the concept of this game, but if you can enlist the help of a second person, they can distract your dog while you go hide somewhere in your home. Once you’re hidden, call for your dog and wait for them to find you. Many dogs will figure this game out quickly!

Siberian Husky dog playing hide and seek
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

6. Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys have risen in popularity in the last few years, so they’re typically easy to find at a variety of stores. These toys are often made to be used with food or treats, and they’re designed to encourage your dog to use their brain, sense of smell, and body to solve the puzzle to get to the treats.

There are also puzzle toys on the market that contain things like tennis balls and other fun toys. The best thing about puzzle toys is that you can use a lot of creativity with them, which means you can make your own at home. Things you already have around your house, like cardboard boxes, empty toilet paper rolls, and plastic bottles are all suitable supplies for making fun and unique puzzle toys. However, you need to watch them closely if you go this route to ensure they don’t chew off pieces and swallow them, which could be dangerous.

7. Snuffle Mats

Snuffle mats are technically a form of a puzzle toy, but they deserve their own spot on this list. Snuffle mats are fabric mats that are covered with different textures, and they’re designed for you to put food or treats on and in them. This requires your dog to work through the different textures to get to the food.

This often entails strips of felt, pockets, and fabric flaps that can trap food and treats, making your dog work for them. These toys make for a wonderful enrichment activity for a bored dog, and they can help to wear your dog out physically and mentally.

dog sniffing snuffle mat
Image Credit: Ryan Brix, Shutterstock

8. Blow Bubbles

Bubbles are an inexpensive and novel item to bring into playtime with your dog. Many dogs have never seen bubbles, which means they’re often extremely interested in them when they see them. If you only pull bubbles out from time to time, they’re likely to retain their novelty, ensuring your dog stays interested in them. Some vendors have started making bubbles with scents and flavors that are appealing to dogs, like peanut butter, bacon, and cookies.

Note that you should only use bubbles that are safe for dogs, as some brands could contain toxic ingredients.

9. Puppy Playdates

If your dog is social and enjoys spending time with other dogs, then puppy playdates are an excellent option for getting your dog to burn energy. Although many people automatically think of visiting the dog park when talking about a playdate, dog parks are actually not always recommended by professionals due to them being a high-risk environment for dog fights and illnesses. However, inviting your dog’s best friend to come spend the afternoon at your house can be fun for both dogs and effective at making them both tired.

group of dogs playing in the park
Image Crredit: Joy Brown, Shutterstock

10. Flirt Pole

Flirt poles are essentially the same idea as a teaser wand for a cat. They’re made with a toy on the end of a rope attached to a stick, and they’re made to be used for encouraging your dog to chase and jump. For dogs with a high prey drive, flirt poles can be an irresistible toy that will allow them to burn a ton of energy.

Make sure, though, to read up on how to safely and properly use a flirt pole for your dog. Playing on slippery or hard surfaces, encouraging jumping and twisting, and rapid redirection can all risk injury to your dog.

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Whether it’s a rainy day or your dog is extra energetic today, you’re sure to find something here to keep them entertained. Whenever possible, join in on the fun with your dog. Playing together provides a bonding opportunity that can build trust and affection between the two of you. If you’re looking for ways to increase activity for your sedentary or lazy dog, make sure to talk to your vet before beginning physical activities to ensure they are healthy enough to participate.

Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

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