How to Exercise Your Dog Indoors

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

Your dog needs daily exercise, but when it’s too cold, snowing, or raining, you shouldn’t let them spend too much time outside; instead, it’s best to bring the fun indoors. Whether you live in an apartment or a large house, there are simple and creative ways to help your canine companion get the physical exercise and mental stimulation they want and need.

If you’re stumped when it comes to how to exercise your dog indoors, here are a few ideas to help you get started, along with some product recommendations that are worth considering.

Indoor Fetch

Who says you can’t play fetch with your dog indoors? As long as you have a decent amount of space, you can toss a ball or toy for your pet to chase, grab, and bring back to you. Some people will use a hallway to give their dog enough room to run and grab their toy, but it really depends on your home and its layout. If you don’t have a large room with enough open space, you might need to move some furniture around temporarily, but it will be worth it.

A good toy to consider for this is the Chuckit! Indoor Ball. It’s designed specifically for indoor use, and features textured chenille that’s soft and lightweight so you can toss it and let it bounce softly to entice your dog to grab it. Puppies and adult dogs of all sizes are sure to love it, and the multi-layered construction helps it withstand your pet’s teeth so this toy can last.

Hide and Seek

Have you ever played hide and seek with your dog? If you haven’t, definitely give it a try, as it can be loads of fun for both of you. When your pet isn’t looking, find a spot to hide in, and then call them to you until they’re able to find you.

If you’ve trained your dog to sit and wait for you without moving, this command can come in handy for this game, as you can tell them to stay in place until you call them. But if you need help, you could have a family member distract or hold your pet until you’re hidden. Once your dog finds you, give them loads of praise and a tasty treat.

Indoor Agility/Obstacle Course

Another fun way to exercise your dog indoors is by setting up a small obstacle course. Whether your dog is into agility or not, this is a great way to play with them when the weather doesn’t allow you to head outside. It can get your dog moving, and it provides your pet with an exciting challenge.

Setting up an obstacle course indoors doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make some space and get creative with household items, such as chairs, cushions, pillows, cardboard boxes, tables, towels, brooms, blankets, and dog tunnels. Once you’ve set everything up, encourage your dog to make their way through the course by jumping, weaving, and going over and under objects. Reward them with treats and praise at the end.   

The Outward Hound Zip & Zoom Indoor Dog Agility Training Kit for Dogs makes it even easier to set up an obstacle course your dog can master. It contains four weave poles, an adjustable jump (which can also be used as extra weave poles), and a square collapsible tunnel. Plus, it comes with a training booklet, it’s simple to set up, and you can keep all of the pieces in a storage bag.

Stair Exercises

If you have stairs in your home, they can be used to get your dog running and exercising. You can use your stairs to play fetch, making it a bit more challenging for your dog than just running down a hallway. Or, you could have your dog chase you up and down the stairs. Your dog will release their energy and you’ll get a good workout too, so it’s a great way for both of you to stay active indoors when the weather is cold or wet.

Just be careful so neither one of you trips or gets hurt. And if your dog has trouble going up or down stairs, this activity should be avoided.

Snuffle Mats and Puzzle Toys

Snuffle mats and puzzle toys are fantastic products for pets because they’re challenging and rewarding. They can keep a dog engaged for a while, and can prevent boredom. Purchase a few different puzzle feeders and snuffle mats of varying degrees of difficulty so your pet will continually be mentally stimulated. Then, on a rainy or cold day, you can use these to entertain your pooch.

The Pet Parents Forager Mat is a snuffle mat that’s designed to encourage your dog’s foraging instincts. Hide some kibble or treats in it and let your dog sniff around to find the food. The material is durable yet soft, so it won’t irritate your pet’s nose or mouth, and the anti-slide backing helps it stay in place. Plus, you can clean it in your washing machine, and it folds up for storage. Meadow is for beginners, while Forest is more challenging, and both of these are available in two sizes.

Don’t Let Bad Weather Get in the Way of Exercise and Play

There are various ways to get your dog to exercise while spending time indoors when the weather is too harsh to be outside. With a bit of creativity and the right products, chilly and rainy days don’t have to be dull, and you can have a blast with your best furry friend.

Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

More by Lisa Selvaggio