7 Awesome Indoor Dog Exercise Ideas for Winter

Does your pooch need exercise? Check out these fun dog exercise ideas you can do indoors when it’s too cold (and dangerous) to be outside.  

Our guests are getting some good exercise, playtime and socialization at the Good Dog Hotel & Spa during a cold, winter day.
Our guests are getting some good exercise, playtime and socialization at the Good Dog Hotel & Spa during a cold, winter day.

This winter has been a brutal one so far, with lots of single-digit days spent indoors keeping warm. And while this can feel comfy and cozy for both humans and dogs, it can also mean that your dog isn’t getting all the exercise it needs.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to make sure your dog stays active without exposure to the harsh elements. Here are some of The Good Dog Hotel & Spa’s favorite suggestions. (For ideas on keeping your dog safe from frigid temperatures, read our blog Dog Safety Tips for Extreme Winter Conditions.)

Doggie Day Care. Of course, this is one of our favorites on the list, because we get to see first-hand how beneficial it is for dogs to socialize, play and burn off some energy. You can also treat your canine kid to a spa visit, where we offer a full range of grooming services – from a sudsy bath or relaxing hydro massage to complete professional grooming.

Play games. Playing games with your dog is a great way to combine mental and physical exercise. You can also reinforce commands or help them learn new ones. For example:

  • Play hide-and-seek by hiding a treat or a favorite toy. Or you can even hide yourself. First, throw a treat so your dog will run away from you, and then go hide in another part of the house. Your dog will have fun finding you, and you can practice using the “come” command.
  • Combine your workout (like doing sit-ups) with fetch. Throw a toy with one sit-up, and continue doing repetitions while your dog fetches.
  • Get into a squat position with your dog’s favorite toy in hand. As you squat down, tap your dog with the toy. Then, as you rise, bring the toy above your head so that he jumps for it.

Make an obstacle course. Be creative by combining exercise with your dog’s great sense of smell. Hide treats or even dinner in an unexpected place, and then make a maze with boxes, blankets or other household objects that make it challenging to get to the food. Treat toys are also good ways to combine mental stimulation with favorite snacks.

Turn on the treadmill. While there are treadmills specifically designed for dogs and exercise, you can also use a human treadmill for the same purpose, given appropriate precautions and a little training. Follow directions available online by a trusted source, and know that you’ll need to be patient, help familiarize your dog with the equipment, and allow a few days to adjust and increase speed and time.

Take a class. Checkout local businesses offering indoor agility or swimming classes especially for dogs. And if you haven’t had any official obedience classes, this might be a good time to try one. While Flyball and Doga are popular types of courses, there are plenty of other training options to choose from.

Practice targeting. Being indoors gives you a great opportunity to practice targeting with your dog. For example, teach her to touch her nose to the back of your hand on command (in this case, your hand is the target). For more information, check out this ASPCA resource that explains how you can teach your dog to hand target.

Take the stairs. This idea will provide plenty of exercise for both of you, and it’s simple to boot. Put your dog on a leash and walk up and down the stairs (if you don’t have any, find a dog-friendly venue or a willing friend’s home with stairs). Take two steps at a time for a bigger challenge, or vary the speed with each flight.

What are your favorite indoor dog exercises?

Do you have indoor dog exercise ideas you’d like to share? Do you know of any dog-friendly places that are good escapes during the winter months? We’d love to hear about them! Please leave your comments and suggestions below.


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