Thursday, January 24, 2013

7 Ways to Exercise Your Dog Indoors

It’s cold here in Harrisburg! We don’t know about you, but when the temperature drops below 20 degrees (and feels like 5 degrees!), we certainly don’t look forward to taking our dogs out for a walk or any kind of exercise. And some dogs, especially puppies, may not be able to spend as much time outdoors in the cold weather.

That means, however, that dogs have lots of extra energy, which increases the chances that they might get into mischief. Here are 7 ideas for using up some of that extra energy. If you have an SSD dog, they’re also great training games.

Set Up an Obstacle Course
Create an obstacle course for your dog to go through. Set up a variety of obstacles for your dog to go over, under, around, and through. If you have an SSD dog, take advantage of the cues your dog knows. For example, start with your dog by your side, leashed or unleashed. Walk a few steps and ask your dog to “sit.” Walk a few more steps, then ask your dog to go “up” (two paws on an object) or “all the way up” (all four paws on an object). Walk a few more steps and ask your dog to go under a table or a chair. Have your dog “go on through” a doorway or between two chairs, then ask them to walk backwards for a few paces, then “heel.” You can add some different surfaces for your dog to walk over, or you can go up and down the stairs. Any time you’re walking in an open space, randomly ask your dog to “sit” or “down.” You can make the obstacle course even harder by scattering treats on the floor so your dog also needs to practice “leave it.” Be creative and don’t forget to click and treat!

Play Fetch
If you have enough open space, you can work on your dog’s play retrieves. Just pick your dog’s favorite ball or toy and toss it for them to chase and bring back you.

Play Hide and Seek
This is one of SSD Fire’s favorite games! Not only is hide and seek fun, but it’s also a great way to practice stays and recalls! The first time you play this game, start simple. Put your dog in a down-stay or sit-stay and walk a few steps away. Call your dog to come, and click and treat when they do. Gradually move farther away, then move out of sight, whether you move behind an object or go into another room. If your dog has trouble finding you, say his or her name again.

Practice Shaping
Shaping will not only get your dog moving, but it’ll get him thinking, too! Shaping is a training method where you break down a behavior into small steps, and then you reinforce the dog for these small steps until you achieve the actual behavior. We want dogs to experiment with different behaviors until he finds the one that earns him a click and treat. You can shape almost any behavior. You can have your dog touch his nose to an object, rest his chin on a chair, put his paws inside a box – anything! Start with something easy, like touching a nearby object, and work up to something harder.

Have a Training Session
Mental exercise can be just as tiring as physical exercise. Add a few extra training sessions to your day, or teach your dog a new trick.

Go on an Outing
If you have an SSD dog, go to the mall and walk around. Work on your dog’s cues in real life situations. If your dog is a pet, take them to your local pet store. Or take your dog swimming at the Canine Spa in Dillsburg. This indoor facility is the perfect place to exercise and socialize your dog. Just be sure to dry your dog off as much as possible before leaving.

Use Treat Dispensing Toys
Treat dispensing toys are great because they make your dog work to get the treats. We especially like ones that make the dogs walk around in order to get the treats out. Sometimes, instead of giving the dogs all of their dinner in their food dish, we’ll put half or most of it in a treat dispensing toy. It lets them work off some energy and helps manage their weight. 

We hope you have fun with these ideas! If you try one of them, let us know how it went.

What other indoor games do you play with your dogs? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Thanks to an earlier email about this, Shamrock is enjoying hide and seek. He's really good at it, especially when he knows there's a treat waiting for him ;) He found me when I hid under the bed. He did give me a "what on earth are you doing THERE??" look, but seemed happy to see me!

  2. Our favorite way to exercise our courthouse facility dog Molly B on rainy Seattle days is by playing Two-Person Hide and Seek. The two people call Molly back and forth in the house, using kibble to reward her when she finds us. We hide in the shower stall or in a closet, or lie down on the sofa under a blanket. It's fun to watch her search for us when we are especially well hidden.

  3. hahaha that's food box is so cute.. I wonder how the two dogs can eat it with out fighting for foods.

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  4. I have known some dog exercises but I haven't try this. I will apply this to my daily routen.

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