Five Smart Ways to Exercise Your Dog Indoors
Staying at home doesn't mean Fido can't stay active.
An inactive dog can turn into a big problem in no time. "When dogs don't get the appropriate amount of exercise, they tend to experience increased boredom," says veterinarian Dr. Carl Winch of Banfield Pet Hospital. "This boredom can often lead to over-eating, reduced calorie usage, weight gain, and behavioral issues such as inappropriate chewing, digging and barking."
However, given current social distancing guidelines set forth in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, how do you manage your dog's level of exercise when time outdoors is restricted? "Recommendations to stay at home don't necessarily mean that you and your dog have to stay inside," says Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer at the American Kennel Club (AKC). "Depending on your circumstances, options for exercise will vary, but necessity becomes the mother of invention. Many people still have their own fenced-in backyards that they and their dog can use."
Good news: Whether you have a backyard or not, there are plenty of ways to ensure your pooch stays active and entertained under quarantine. We asked both vets for advice on how to exercise your dog indoors and here's what they had to say.
Take the stairs.
Stuck inside an apartment with no designated outdoor area, or just not lucky enough to have a private backyard at home? No worries. Dr. Winch says you can use the stairs—or a long hallway—to exercise your pooch. "If your pet doesn't have any joint problems, try using stairs in your home as a source of exercise by walking them up and down," he says.
Teach them some tricks.
According to Dr. Winch, there are several easy activities that you can do with your pet to engage them both physically and mentally within your home. "Play a game of hide and seek with their favorite toy or teach them a new trick," he says. "Go through your pet's training routine and try revisiting tricks they haven't done in a while that can serve as a form of exercise. For example, going from sit to lay down and back again is like doing a push up."
Employ interactive toys.
Make no mistake about it: An interactive pet toy can keep your dog busy for hours. "Order puzzles and toys made specifically for individual type dogs that will keep a dog mentally stimulated, such as those that have food or peanut butter placed in their core," Dr. Klein says. "Just make sure not to leave a dog unattended for any period of time with a new toy to prevent them from accidentally ingesting pieces of it."
Let them socialize with other pets.
If you have more than one pet at home, then Dr. Winch recommends letting them spend plenty of time with each other to help keep them active and entertained. "If you have a multi-pet household and they all get along, interaction with one another can be a valuable source of exercise and stimulation," he says.
Looking for a goof-proof way to exercise your pooch without having to take them on a long walk? Dr. Winch suggests engaging them in a good old-fashioned game of fetch. "Treat your dog to a game of fetch in your fenced yard," he says. "If you don't have a fenced yard, make use of a long elastic leash that can let your dog run while keeping them safe."