Exercising dogs and keeping them active is so important. Some breeds far more activity than other breeds but each breed needs some form of exercise. Dogs aren’t meant to just be lazy and sit around all day. Find great ways to exercise dogs below.
If you opt to not exercise your dog, both mentally and physically, it’ll manifest in ways you won’t be happy about. The lack of exercise can cause dogs to become destructive.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links for various dog products. There is no additional cost to you to click them, I’ll earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. It helps keep this website up and running.
If you are looking for new ways to exercise your dog, then you might find some new ideas on this list that you can try. Some are perfect for anyone while some are meant for the more adventurous. All are fun for both you and the dog regardless if you have a high-energy or low-energy dog. Pick the ones that work for you and your dog.
Exercising Dogs Indoors
The winters for many can be frigid, meaning indoor playtime is necessary or easier. Another reason I’m doing indoor exercises is because summer days can be hot and humid. Neither condition is exactly ideal for exercising your dog outdoors. These ideas are perfect those days where you would rather stay indoors to exercise your dog, regardless of the reason.
1. Hide & Seek
This can be a great option to tire out your dog mentally and physically. It doesn’t require a big house either. Get creative and see if your dog can find you. First just put your dog into a sit and stay. Tuck yourself behind a door, under a blanket, or anywhere where you can be out of sight. Then simply call your dog and see if they can sniff you out. Be sure to have a treat ready or praise if your dog prefers that over food when they find you.
Bring the walk indoors withe dog treadmill. They are perfect for getting in that walk if the weather isn’t ideal for a walk outside. You will need to work with your dog to get them adjusted to using the treadmill properly. Be sure to also supervise them the entire time. Never leave your dog alone on the treadmill as they can get hurt.
They certainly are a hefty investment up front but it’ll save you trouble when your dog needs to run and the weather isn’t ideal. The treadmill I recommend is this foldable one from dogPACER and can handle dogs up to 180 pounds. It is also lightweight compared to most others on the market.
3. Tug of War
Nearly every dog will require some good chewing sessions every now and again. It’s a simple game that most dogs grasp pretty quickly. Dogs naturally use their mouth to interact with things and pull on them. You just need to find a suitable toy. You’ll need to find a durable toy for your dog. While playing, you can easily mix it up by either gently tossing the toy for your dog to get or play keep away with it. You want to keep your dog moving as much as possible. You are aiming to exercise your dog, so movement is important.
4. Play Date
You can exercise dogs with a dog play date. It doesn’t mean just staying home. You can find an indoor dog park or dog play center. Another option with this to exercise dogs is to bring a dog to a friends house with a dog or invite a friend over to play with your dog. Most everything on the list is one on one options, but this option encourages canine socialization.
Checking out and finding the right dog daycare, if you decide on that, is important. You want to find one that is safe and that has policies you agree with. Some important things to consider are the qualifications of the staff, behavioral checks, vaccination policies, cleanliness, among anything else you find important. Also ask how they handle fights among the dogs. You can usually find some that also have cameras so you can check in on your dog throughout the day while they are at doggy daycare.
5. Scavenger Hunt
This is similar to hide and seek but takes it up a notch. This is good to exercise dogs but also get in that nose work. One simple way is to scatter your dogs food on the floor. This is best for those who feed kibble though. It can be done with those who feed cooked, raw, or canned too, you’ll just need to put it on wax paper before putting it on your floor. Also plan to clean your floors after.
Another option is to get some treats or some toys (I’ve used tennis balls) and hide them around the house. Things that have a smell are easier for your dog to sniff out though so I don’t recommend the brand new toys, but ones your dog has used. You can always show them some toys and let them see you hide one or two of them until they grasp the idea they need to hunt for them around the house. This gets your dog moving and thinking.
This one is super fun. It’s essentially a few different tricks put together. I know some do this with mostly heel work and you move around and your dog has to stay in a heel position. This is the obedience intensive option.
Another option that can be more enjoyable for some is freestyle. This can combine getting you to get your dog to balance on their hind legs, weave between your legs, spinning in circles, among other smaller tricks. If your dog doesn’t know tricks, break it down and do the tricks first. Teach each trick one at a time. You won’t get far just asking your dog to “dance” if they don’t know what is expected of them.
Exercise Dogs Outdoors
These are some pretty common options that you most likely already do. I tried to add some not super common ones on here though as well. Fresh air and getting outside is great for both you and your dog. Here are some great options to exercise dogs outdoors.
This is an activity I do often with my dogs. My dogs absolutely love the water but remember that not every dog enjoys being around water, let alone swim. Swimming is a great way to spend a warm summer day whether at the beach, lake, or another body of water.
You can always toss toys around in the water for your dog to swim to. If you are unsure if your dog can swim, a life vest is a good investment, even if dogs can swim, they can be beneficial.
Fetch is a total classic activity for dogs. It is a wonderful way to exercise dogs and doesn’t take much effort from you. This game builds trust between you and your dog and makes exercising for your dog lots of fun. Just about any dog can grasp the concept of fetch. Teaching your dog a proper fetch will be beneficial for their health and activity.
If you don’t want to touch a wet and soggy ball, check out this hand launcher for dogs. It fits standard size tennis balls or you can buy the rubber style tennis balls for extra durability.
If your dog loves fetch, take it up a notch with frisbee. This is a level up because your dog doesn’t have much of an idea of where the frisbee will go. It’ll get your dog to watch where it goes because it tends to have weird movements or patterns unless you’re really good at tossing a frisbee consistently.
If your dog has a solid fetch, you can start this off with short distances and then increase the distance. You can get a variety of different frisbees from plastic to rubber. I’ve had more success with rubber frisbees lasting longer with my dogs. The Chuckit Paraflight is a great option as it has a rubber edge and good for dogs just getting into frisbee.
10. Flirt Pole
Flirt poles are sort of like a fishing pole but has a dog toy attached to the end. You lure your dog to chase it around. You keep control of the toy but you can go fast or slow. Changing up the speed and intensity makes the movement unknown to your dog which keeps the game exciting. One of my favourite flirt poles to use is this one as it’s extremely durable and high quality.
It’s also helpful to teach your dog a “leave it” command and you can do so with a flirt pole too. It’s a great thing for dogs with a high prey drive to learn. If your dog enjoys this, be sure to look into Agility or FastCat. Flirt poles are great to guide your dog through an agility course for training.
This is the most common way people exercise their dogs. You have the quick potty break walk where it’s most likely a lap around the block or down the road and back. You also have the longer walks that are designed for actual exercise.
You can spice up a walk by driving to a park, dog friendly beach, or some other place that is dog friendly. These new places allow your dog to get mental stimulation from new smells, sights, and sounds. It allows you to explore new places and keeps walks fun instead of being boring and mundane.
This is a bit more involved depending on where you live and opt to hike. If your dog is healthy and able to handle a hike, it’s totally worth it. Hiking is great exercise for dogs, especially active dogs. Always make sure you are hiking a dog friendly trail.
Be sure to consider the breed of dog you have and the age. Puppies and senior dogs tend to have weaker immune systems. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs and french bulldogs are at a higher risk of heat stroke. If you aren’t sure, consult your vet prior to bringing your dog on a hike.
Start slow and pick trails that work for both you and your dog. You don’t want to expect to much of yourself or your dog while out on a hike. Your dog might need to build up the stamina to keep up on hikes. Also bring along a few treats and some water to give your dog along the way or definitely after the hike.
13. Running or Jogging
If you are a runner or someone who enjoys jogging, then it makes sense to consider bringing your dog along. You’ll definitely need to make sure your dog can handle jogging. Just because your dog could handle hiking doesn’t mean they can handle jogging or running.
It’s a great exercise for dogs but is more intense than hiking is. Be sure to check the breed, age, weather, health, and more prior to bringing your dog along on a run. If you live where it’s quite hot and you tend to run on asphalt, look into some dog shoes to keep their paws safe.
This activity isn’t for the faint of heart. Agility is a fabulous way to build that bond between you and your dog. It’s a challenge for both the dog and the handler. It’s a great way to exercise dogs as you are constantly guiding your dog through obstacles. Success is determined on how well you both communicate and the strength of cooperation.
You can set up a small course in your backyard if you have that option. If you don’t you can check for agility courses or classes in your local area. If you think your dog will enjoy agility, you can get some affordable sets to use at home. You can always look up DIY options too. One option not included in the set above are the seesaws but many dogs do enjoy these and they can be made at home. If your dog shows promise, be sure to check your area for training classes to further develop their skills and grow that bond with your dog.
Adventurous Activities to Exercise Dogs
Above I’ve covered a variety of options to exercise dogs both indoors and outdoors. These next few options are more niche forms to exercise dogs that aren’t for everyone. Some of these options you may have never heard of or might decide you want to try.
It is great to embrace being adventurous but always important to be safe while exercising with your dog.
This isn’t one that I do but I know many friends who enjoy doing this sport with their dogs. I personally don’t own a bicycle so this isn’t one I do but it’s a great exercise for you and your dog. This is more ideal for dogs who listen and follow your lead exceptionally well.
When beginning it’s recommended to find a place where it’s pretty car and human free. This makes it easier to train and work with your dog when they are new to cycling. Another thing to mention is to make sure your dog is fit, healthy, and not too small so they don’t get injured if you aren’t extremely careful.
16. Dock Diving
This is one that is a dog sport but also can be fun if you opt to not do the sport. Dock jumping is a great exercise for dogs if they are water obsessed. You basically just toss an object into the water and your dog gets to jump after it and swim to retrieve the item This is one activity that super fun but also a dog sport where your dog can title if you take them out to dock diving events.
When it comes to kayaking, you end up doing most of the work but you can also let your dog swim some. If you do opt to let them swim, use a life jacket and make sure they have a good recall so you can call them back to you.
It’s fun to go on adventures with your dog and if you enjoy kayaking and have a dog who enjoys the water, this is a great activity to do together. Some dogs who don’t enjoy the water are even willing to go on a kayak to see new sights and take in the new smells.
It’s a great way to exercise dogs and since I live near a beach I can usually rent or borrow a kayak from someone/somewhere to go out and adventure with my dogs. I usually only take one dog out at a time to make it easier on me.
18. Stand Up Paddleboarding
This is a great adventure for you and your dog together. Something before beginning this endeavor is to familiarize your dog with the paddleboard. You can do this by laying in down and allowing your dog to sniff it. Training your dog on or around it can also be helpful. This gets the used to being on the board itself and not to see it as anything scary.
Be sure to account for the fact your dog might jump or fall off and have a life vest on them for safety. It’s a great exercise for dogs and people. It lets your dog explore new places, see and smell new things. Some dogs prefer to stand while others might want to lay down or sit.
If you enjoy yoga then this may be a great option for you. It’s yoga, but with your dog. This is one that is really new to me and I haven’t done it as I’ve never even done yoga before so I gathered into from someone who actually does yoga daily and doga a few days a week at minimum.
It’s typically more for dogs who are calmer but people have been able to get their hyper, energy-filled dogs to calm down enough for some doga. You are in contact with your dog nearly the entire time, you both are working together to stretch and relax. This can be you supporting them while they sit and raise their front paws, teaching them to bow and you help lure them into position, or another stretch together.
Flyball is another dog sport but it’s more of a relay race. It’s the dog version of a track and field event. This sport is extremely physically intensive so be sure you have the approval of your vet prior to letting your dog train or compete in these events.
This is great for those agile dogs who also love balls, they should enjoy this sport. It’s a phenomenal way to exercise dogs. You also have the chance to meet other dogs and owners who enjoy this sport. It’s a great way for dogs and humans to work together.
How do you exercise dogs?
My dogs enjoys a variety of the options above and we definitely try to mix it up constantly so they never know exactly what their adventure will be that day.
Looking for a pet tag than can handle all of these activities and more? Check out this post on an amazing quality pet tag.