6 Easy Ways to Exercise Your Dog at Home

April 27, 2023

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If you’re a pet parent, you’ve likely asked yourself, “how much exercise do dogs need?” at one point or another. The short answer is, dogs need a lot of exercise! They need frequent walks outdoors for their physical and mental well-being — at least once or twice per day. 

But any dog parent can tell you that there are some days when that's just not possible. Maybe there's a snowstorm outside or you're unwell, so you just can't get out there.

Fear not, as there are plenty of ways to exercise your dog at home, or in your backyard if you have one. With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can give your pup the physical and mental stimulation they need, even when you can’t go for a walk. Here are some useful tips on how to exercise your dog without leaving your home.

1.  Obedience Training

Obedience training may not sound like the most thrilling dog workout, but it's a great way to get your dog moving while tackling any behavioral issues in a safe and low-pressure environment. What’s more, teaching your furry friend basic commands like "sit" and "stay" helps to establish a bond between the two of you while also developing their confidence in the outside world.

Plus, pups can also get bored at home. They need mental stimulation, so obedience training is an excellent way to provide that. A happy, stimulated dog is less likely to have destructive behavior, so we highly encourage grabbing some treats and getting ready to engage with your pup.

A hand extended holding a treat while a dog gives paw.

Try starting with the basics, such as sit, stay, and come, then progress to more complex commands, such as a handshake, fetch, and puppy push-ups — which we’ll share how to do below. Most importantly, don't forget cuddles as your dog makes progress! 

How to Teach Your Dog Puppy Push Ups

Once your dog has mastered how to sit, stand, and go into the laying position on command, here’s a step-by-step process of how to train them to do puppy push-ups. This whole process is great for mental stimulation and exercise, no matter how small of a space you have at home!

  • Step 1: Teach your pup to learn how to sit on command
  • Step 2: Get your pup in the downward or laying position
  • Step 3: Command your dog to go back into a sitting position
  • Step 4: Tell your pup to stand with all four paws on the ground
  • Step 5: Get your pup back into a sitting position
  • Step 6: Repeat as long as your pup is enjoying it
  • Step 7: Reward your dog with a treat

2.  Hide and Seek

Hide and seek isn't just for kids — your dog can play too! It's a great dog exercise for any pup that’s struggling to overcome separation anxiety. They can build their confidence by being left alone for short periods of time while strengthening their bond with you at the same time. Plus, it’s one of the more fun ways to exercise your dog for us humans too!

So, how do you start playing with your pup? First, tell your dog to “sit” and “stay” and then slowly walk away from them while they can see you. If they follow your command, rush back and reward them with treats, cuddles, or a toy. 

Repeat this process until you eventually move out of the room and out of sight, and then call them using commands like “come” or “find me.” When your dog gets better at playing the game, you can start hiding in spots that are increasingly difficult for them to locate you. Dogs like to find their human companions using a trail of their natural scent, so this game will stimulate and challenge their cognition abilities while sneaking in some physical exercise.

3.  Snuffle Mats

What is a snuffle mat, you ask? A snuffle mat is a brain game designed for dogs to exercise their minds and help them practice their natural foraging instincts. It works by filling a mat with high-value treats that your pup will scavenge through, using their nose to find them. 

Not only does this kind of exercise for dogs provide mental stimulation, but if you have an overly enthusiastic eater, it can help to slow down feeding time too. If you're interested in trying one out, check out these snuffle mats:

  • Archstone Pets Pineapple Dog Snuffle Mat. This colorful pineapple-themed snuffle mat is made from durable polyester with an anti-slip backing that helps keep it in place while your pup is playing.
  • AWOOF Snuffle Mat for Dogs. With a bright and cheerful foldable design, this snuffle mat comes in three different sizes, making it ideal for any dog, from a Chihuahua to a German Shepherd.
  • MEWOOFUN Snuffle Mat for Dogs. Designed to look like a table in an Italian restaurant, your pup will have fun searching through the fabric pizza, baguette, and wine glasses.
  • Bowling Pin Interactive Nosework Dog Toy. This mat is designed to look like a stack of bowling pins. Your pup can have fun pulling out the fleece pins to discover hidden food underneath.
  • Meilzer Pet Snuffle Mat. This cute mat features squeaky mushrooms and an adorable hedgehog that your dog will enjoy during playtime.

4.  Obstacle Course

Wondering how to exercise a puppy that can’t go outside? Obstacle courses could be your new best friend. They are an excellent way to give your pup a full-body workout while also encouraging them to use their problem-solving skills. You don't need a large yard to create an obstacle course either; you can use boxes, sticks, chairs, tables, and other household items to make your course. Make them go over some items, under others, and around some as well.

A Jack Russell-looking dog runs through an obstacle course.

If you're looking for some suggested products to add to your obstacle course, check out these ramps and stairs to add to your set-up:

5.  Flirt Poles

Flirt poles are one of the best ways to exercise your dog while also allowing them to practice their prey drive. A prey drive is an innate hunting instinct that many dog breeds possess, which drives them to chase, pounce, and catch potential prey. Flirt poles consist of a long pole with a toy attached to the end, which you can move around quickly to encourage your dog to chase and jump. 

Using a flirt pole can help to improve your dog's speed, agility, and coordination. It’s particularly useful for breeds that were originally bred for hunting, such as terriers and hounds. If you're interested in trying out a flirt pole with your pup, check out these great options:

  • Squishy Face Studio Flirt Pole. This flirt pole offers a mentally stimulating exercise experience for dogs of all sizes, ensuring both fun and safety with its bungee cord feature.
  • Chasing Tails Flirt Pole. Adjustable and durable, this wand comes with two toys that can be attached at the end — a squeaky one and another that isn’t.
  • Loobani Flirt Pole for Dogs. Perfect for tug of war, this extendable teaser wand has several braided nylon rope toys that can withstand even the most aggressive chewer.

6. Puzzle Toys

The best exercise for dogs is one that stimulates their mind as well as their body. Puzzle toys are a very effective way to keep your active pup mentally occupied while at home. From treat-dispensing toys to interactive boards, there are various options available that will make your pup engage their problem-solving skills. 

Here are some fun puzzle toys your pup will love:

Try These Exercises Out Before a Groom

There you have it, fellow dog lovers — six easy and fun ways to exercise and mentally stimulate your beloved furball at home! Before your dog's next grooming appointment with Barkbus, we encourage you to try out some of these dog exercise activities to help tire them out and make the grooming process smoother. Practicing obedience commands like "sit" and "stay" can also be beneficial during grooming sessions, as they help keep your dog calm and focused. Plus, don’t forget to reward them with a treat for good behavior!

A hand gives a dog a treat near some woods.

Ready to pamper your pup? Schedule a grooming appointment with Barkbus today, and let us take care of the rest.


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