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Winter Workout: Dog Training Tips for Indoor Exercise

As dog owners, we know that exercise is an essential part of a happy and healthy life for our four-legged friends. However, as a Cleveland dog owner, during the frosty winter months, it can be challenging to ensure your pup gets the physical activity they need.

Fortunately, there are many creative and fun ways to get your dog the exercise they need indoors.

Understanding Your Dog's Exercise Needs

Alright, let's dive in and chat about your pooch's workout routine. It's just like us humans, different dogs need different levels of exercise. You've got your high-energy breeds like Aussies and Border Collies that are always on the go, and then you've got more laid-back breeds that prefer to chill out. And let's not forget about age – a spry puppy is going to have way more energy than a golden oldie.

So how do you figure out the right exercise regime for your dog?

That's where your vet comes in. They can give you the lowdown on what's best for your specific dog's breed, age, and overall health. And remember, we're not just talking about physical exercise here. Mental stimulation is a big part of the equation too. Just like us, dogs need to keep their brains active to stay happy and healthy. So mix things up and keep things interesting for them.

Get Creative with Indoor Dog Games

Let's talk about turning your living room into a mini doggy amusement park. Games are a fabulous way to not only keep your pup moving but also sharpen their mental skills. Think classic games like tug-of-war or fetch. If you've got the space, why not toss a ball or a toy and let your dog sprint after it? And don't worry if you've got a small apartment – a short-range fetch works just fine.

Bonus Level: Create small jumps for your dog when playing fetch by balancing a broom stick on two soup cans. When you throw the ball, the dog has to jump over the broom, resulting in just a bit more exercise bang for your buck.

Now, if you really want to kick things up a notch, try a game of indoor hide-and-seek. No, you don't have to squeeze yourself under the bed or behind the couch (although, I'm sure that would give your dog a good laugh). Instead, you can hide treats around your living space and let your dog go on a scavenger hunt. This game is a twofer – it's great for exercise and it also helps improve their scent tracking and retrieval skills. Pretty cool, right?

Remember, it's not just about burning off energy – we're also helping our dogs stay mentally sharp. So, shake things up, try different games and make sure your dog is having a good time. After all, exercise is so much better when it's fun.

Alright, how about we crank up the fun and the exercise by creating an indoor obstacle course for your fur baby? It's like setting up a playground in your living room, and your dog is going to love it! Stack up some pillows, move around some furniture, get creative with boxes, and voila – you've got yourself an exciting maze for your pooch. Your dog will love maneuvering through the twists and turns, and it's a great way for them to expend some of that pent-up energy.

It's not a competition against how well other dogs do agility. Your only competition is boredom and pent up energy. Focus on training towards that goal rather than a perfect agility run.

But let's not stop at just a physical workout. Remember, we're aiming for that brain exercise too. So how about incorporating some obedience training into the mix? As your dog navigates the course, throw in commands like "sit," "stay," "jump," or even "tunnel" if you've managed to create an under-the-couch crawl space. Your dog will not only get a physical workout but they'll also be brushing up on their command skills.

Remember, the key here is to make it exciting and challenging, but not too difficult. And of course, safety first – always supervise this activity to avoid any mishaps. Also, be sure to provide plenty of positive reinforcement, lots of love, and maybe a treat or two. Your pup is doing a fantastic job after all. This can be a super fun way to shake up the routine and keep your dog entertained and active during those chilly winter months. Trust me, your dog is going to be so excited for obstacle course day!

Utilize Your Staircase for Dog Workouts

dogs playing on stairs

Got a staircase at home? Well, let me tell you, that's not just a way to get from the ground floor to the second floor – it's an excellent workout tool for your furry friend! That's right. A simple game of fetch up and down those stairs can be a stellar way to get your dog moving. Just toss a toy or ball up the steps and watch as your dog races after it.

But hold up, we've got to talk about safety here. As exciting as stair workouts can be, they can be a bit hard on your dog's joints, especially if you've got a bigger breed or an older pooch. So, moderation is key. Don't turn every single fetch into a stair sprint, okay? And of course, always keep an eye on your dog to prevent any tumbles or missteps.

Staircase workouts can be a real game changer when it comes to keeping your dog active during those cold winter months. Just remember to keep things safe, fun, and as always, filled with plenty of belly rubs and good boy/girl praises.

Consider Doggy Daycare or Indoor Dog Parks

Got a hyper pup on your hands and not enough space or time to get them all the exercise they need? Enter: doggy daycare and indoor dog parks. These fun-filled spaces are designed to let your dog run, jump, and play till they drop, no matter what the weather's doing outside. Plus, they get to hang out with other dogs, which is always a bonus for our social fur babies.

Doggy daycare is pretty much what it sounds like - a place where your pooch can spend the day playing and being cared for while you're at work or running errands. And the best part? They're supervised by professionals who know a thing or two about dogs. So, you know your pup is in good hands.

Border collie sitting and looking at owner
Arwen, aka "Arwengeddon"

When I got my Arwen, she was about 5 months old, and absolutely full of energy. To help top off the energy levels, she went to daycare about 1x per week at Little River Pet Resort. This helped me manage her energy levels with ease.

On the other hand, indoor dog parks are like a playground for dogs. They've got all the fun features of an outdoor park, minus the mud and rain. We're talking ramps, tunnels, and toys galore.

Hint: pay attention to your dog's preferences. Just like humans, some dogs are introverts, some are extroverts, and some fall in the gray area in between. Don't force your introverted dog to have fun at a dog park. Find another outlet for their energy.

So, if you're finding it a bit tough to get your dog the exercise they need, especially in those frosty winter months, these could be fantastic options to explore.

Incorporate Pup Training into Playtime

black dog looking at owner

Ever thought about transforming playtime into a mini training session? It's like killing two birds with one stone - your pup gets to blow off some steam and you get to reinforce their training. And the best part is, it's a whole lot of fun for both of you.

How do you go about it, you ask? Well, it's all about integrating basic commands into their play. So, let's say you're having a good old game of fetch. When your dog brings back the toy, get them to "sit" before you throw it again. Or maybe during a tug-of-war session, you can work on the "drop it" command. You can even sneak in a "stay" command when you're hiding treats around the house.

Remember, this isn't military drill time - you're not forcing your dog to have fun whether they like it or not.

So keep your tone upbeat and make sure to dole out plenty of praise (and perhaps a treat or two) when your dog gets it right. This approach not only keeps your dog on their toes mentally and physically but also strengthens the bond between the two of you. And that, my friend, is what we call a win-win situation. So go on, give it a try, and see how you can turn playtime into a fun-filled, effective training session!

Final Thoughts on Exercising Your Dog

These just a few of the many ideas on how to exercise your dog. Other thoughts include:

Flirt pole

So far this is my Hazel's personal favorite.


puppy wearing backpack

For dogs 6+ months. Hazel and Arwen are wearing this one and this one right now. Each has 1/2 cup of rice on each side. Don't overdo the weight!


Yes, treadmill train your dog! (This is currently in my office for my dogs. It folds to 2'x2'!!)

Remember, exercising your dog does not take the place of going for a walk. Walks are still a mandatory part of mental health for any dog, but relying solely on walking your dog to provide them an energy outlet is never going to work.

So take the edge off of your dog by exercising them prior to going for your daily walk, and you will see an improvement in their behavior, resulting in a more enjoyable walk.

Dog Training vs. Dog Life

Dog kissing owner

With the Piloting Method, dog training has never been simpler. This revolutionary approach to training focuses on clear communication, positive reinforcement, and building a strong bond between dog and owner. By embracing this method, you can simplify the training process and achieve remarkable results with your furry friend.

The Piloting Method of dog training takes into account the unique needs and behaviors of each dog, allowing for a customized approach. Whether you're dealing with a new puppy with housebreaking issues or a dog with frustrating behavior problems, the Piloting Method can help. By working closely with the experienced trainers at Darwin Dogs, you can identify the root causes of your dog's behavior and create a personalized training plan to address them.

One of the reasons the Piloting Method is so effective is its emphasis on consistency and structure. Dogs thrive on routine and predictability, and this method provides them with the stability they need to feel secure and confident. By establishing clear boundaries and consistent rules, you can simplify the training process and reduce anxiety and unwanted behaviors.

Simplifying dog training with the Piloting Method is not only effective but also enjoyable. Say goodbye to the frustration and overwhelming feelings that often come with training a dog. With the lifetime guidance and support of Darwin Dogs, you can simplify the training process and enjoy a happier, better-behaved dog. Embrace the Piloting Method today and experience the positive impact it can have on your relationship with your furry friend.

many dogs lying down together

Learn more about our Piloting method of dog and puppy training here.

Find out more about our private in home 30 Day Best Dog Ever and 30 Day Best Puppy Ever training packages here.

Have questions about our puppy training or dog training?

border collie dog staying

Kerry Stack

Darwin Dogs

Dog Training and Puppy Training

Located in Cleveland, Ohio

1 Comment

What a wonderful list of suggestions for pup enrichment! My backyard is a mud pit with all the rain we have been having, so playing there is not an option. Now we have a bunch of things we can do and rotate through them.

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