The weather where we live is steadily getting colder. I still have no idea where the summer went. But we’ve been waking up to frosts for the last couple of mornings. Before we know it I’m sure we’ll be dealing with snow. It’s also starting to get darker earlier, which makes it harder for me to take my dogs out for walks/exercise after I finish working in the evenings. Plenty of exercise is key to keeping most dogs happy, healthy, and out of trouble! Keeping your dog’s mind and body active has countless benefits. But we can’t control the weather. It can sometimes be difficult to follow a regular exercise routine when the weather prohibits us from spending time outdoors with our pets. Especially on cold, snowy, dark winter evenings, I find myself thankful that it’s relatively easy to exercise my small dogs indoors.
Whether it be excessive heat, cold, snow, or rain, there are times when it’s not really very practical, or comfortable, to exercise our dogs outdoors. But just because Fido has to go a day without his regular nice long walk, doesn’t mean you should forgo exercise completely! A well-exercised dog is easier to train, calmer around the house, and less likely to get bored and go looking for ways to get into trouble. Both my dogs, despite being years past their puppy days, are troublemakers. Keeping them both mentally and physically stimulated goes a long way toward keeping the peace around our house.
Here are some recommendations for ways to keep your pup’s mind and body active indoors, for those times when mother nature keeps you from enjoying the great outdoors.
- Play ball! If you have an area in your home where it’s safe to do so, you can toss a ball for your dog indoors. Rolling a ball down a long hallway for a while can be a good alternative when you can’t play ball outside. If you don’t want to use a regular ball, you can try playing fetch with a soft plush toy instead.
- Create a treat scavenger hunt for your best friend. When your dog isn’t looking, hide some small pieces of his or her favorite treats around the house. Your dog will have a great time trying to find all of your hiding spots. This is great mental stimulation as well.
- Work on creating some indoor games you can play with your dog. Some dogs like playing hide and seek, or teach your dog to search for an object after you hide it.
- Use toys. Some dogs love playing with toys. Toys with squeakers or puzzle-type toys can keep some dogs entertained for hours! Experiment a bit to find out what types of toys your dog enjoys. My Alaskan klee kai, Fenrir, loves plush toys and balls. My papillon, Kitsune, prefers puzzle toys and things like snuffle mats. He lives for food, so any toys that also involve treats really piques his interest.
- Invite over a friend! If you have any friends who also have dogs that yours get along with, invite them over for an indoor play date. If your friends don’t have dogs, visits from human friends can be fun for dogs too.
- See if your town has a local agility, training center, or doggy daycare where your dog can play safely indoors. Also, some pet stores allow you to bring well-behaved dogs inside. Exploring the store would be a fun change of pace for most dogs.
- Work on training! Training is great for mental stimulation, but some tricks can also help to strengthen and develop your dog’s muscles. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of having a well-trained dog!
What other ideas can you think of? Do you have any additional tips for ways owners can exercise their dogs indoors? Keeping your dog mentally and physically stimulated indoors can take some creativity. But it’s a great way to have fun and bond with your best friend!