We all know that dogs need exercise. Even if your pup is older or less active, he still needs some form of physical or mental stimulation on a regular basis. If you have an active breed—like a Labrador or a border collie—or a young puppy, he will need even more daily activity.
But the weather outside doesn’t always make it easy to walk your dog. So what do you do in these situations where you’re stuck inside or don’t have time to walk?
There are many good alternatives to walking your dog. You can play together indoors with his favorite toy, use puzzles and games to stimulate his brain or use a dog treadmill to provide him with the exercise he needs.
Keep reading to learn about these and other alternatives to walking your dog.
1. Play With Your Dog Indoors Or In Your Yard
While walking your dog is a wonderful form of exercise, it’s not the only way to get your pup the physical stimulation he needs to stay happy and healthy. In fact, regular playtime in your house or backyard can do just as much to make your dog tired.
Try to choose your dog’s favorite toys for this activity. If you use a toy he doesn’t like, he will quickly become disinterested. Even if your dog doesn’t enjoy playing fetch with a ball, he can still get plenty of exercise by playing tug-of-war with a rope toy or playing hide-and-seek.
2. Use Puzzles And Games To Mentally Stimulate Your Dog
Not all dogs are big fans of playing with typical dog toys. But don’t worry—you still have plenty of playtime options.
In recent years, many dog puzzles and enrichment games have become available at pet stores and online. These games allow your dog to stimulate his brain by solving a problem and receiving a reward. Here are some examples of dog enrichment toys:
- Snuffle mats. These mats resemble an old shag carpet. You place the food on the snuffle mat, and the dog has to use his nose to move the pieces around so that he can find and eat them. Snuffle mats not only offer mental stimulation for your dog, but they may also help a fast eater to slow down. Check out the AWOOF Snuffle Mat!
- Scent games. Dogs have a keen sense of smell. To help them keep their minds active in inclement weather, try setting up a series of closed boxes. Place a few treats inside one of the boxes. If your dog can locate which box has the treats, praise them and give them one. With time and practice, your dog can have scent-searching skills that could rival a police canine.
- Puzzles. There are many enrichment puzzles that you can find online to keep your dog mentally active. One of the most popular is the Kong Toy, which can be filled with treats or peanut butter. As your dog rolls the Kong toy around, the treats fall out. This can be quite addictive for some dogs, so make sure to use healthy treats and only offer the toy occasionally.
- Swimming. If you live near a body of water or a dog-friendly pool you may be able to bring your dog for a quick dip on a regular basis. Swimming is a great form of exercise because it places almost no pressure on your dog’s joints, making it perfect for dogs who struggle with arthritis or young puppies whose bodies are still developing.
3. Use A Dog Treadmill
Did you know there are treadmills designed specifically for dogs? These treadmills have safety features created with dogs in mind, like walls on either side of the treadmill to keep the dog from falling off, safety clips that turn the treadmill off in emergencies, etc. Look at the LifePro Paw Runner for a good example!
It’s important to slowly acclimate your dog to the treadmill before using it. This new experience can be scary for many pups; regularly offer them treats, start out at the lowest settings, never leave your dog alone, and keep the treadmill sessions short. As your dog becomes more comfortable, he should be able to stay on the treadmill for longer periods of time.
4. Take Your Dog To A Daycare Or Dog Park
If you’ve got a friendly, well-behaved dog, free playtime with other dogs is a wonderful alternative to daily walks. Whether it’s at a reputable daycare or at a dog park nearby, your dog will be able to spend hours exercising and having fun with other dogs.
Of course, if your dog isn’t very social and properly trained, this is maybe not the right alternative. Instead, consider one of the other solo activities on this list.
5. Compete In A Dog Sport
If you’re looking to spend more quality time with your dog without having to head out on regular walks, consider trying out a sport. Depending on your dog’s breed and skills, they might enjoy participating in one of the following:
- Scent Work
- Disc Dog
Even if your dog is older or not especially active, participating in canine sports is a great way to keep him physically and mentally active.
Final Thoughts About Dog Walking Alternatives!
Summer storms, freezing winter temperatures, and windy conditions can make it nearly impossible to take your dog for a walk outside. Thankfully, you still have plenty of options to make sure your dog gets the exercise he needs.
When deciding which of these alternatives to try with your dog, it’s important to keep his age, breed, physical condition, and personality in mind. If you’ve got an older basset hound with arthritis, competing in high-level agility may not be the right choice.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a six-month-old Australian shepherd puppy, simply providing a snuffle mat for meals may not provide sufficient stimulation. With so many options for exercising your dog, you’re sure to be able to find the perfect fit for both you and Fido.
Let’s Exercise That Dog!