Daily exercise is essential for both your dog’s physical and mental health. Depending on where you live, getting in enough exercise each day can be difficult during the colder winter months. Inclement weather and dropping temperatures may force you and your furry friend to stay inside, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get a good workout for their body and brain.

An outdoor walk is always the ideal option, but if you absolutely cannot safely go outside with your dog, here are a few of our favorite tips for exercising indoors. It is important to maintain control over the situation during indoor activities and avoid long play sessions, which may create unhealthy obsessions for your dog. These indoor activities should only be used when outdoor exercise is truly not an option and should not become a regular part of your routine.

Stair Runs

If you have a set of stairs in your home, running up and down them is a great way to tire out your dog. Stairs use different muscles than a regular walk, making it extra challenging. Start at the top of the stairs and throw a toy down for them to get your dog engaged. Call their name and have them bring the toy back to the top of the stairs. Repeat until your dog is tired and ready for a break.

Create an Obstacle Course

Using items you already have around your house, create a fun obstacle course to lead your dog through. This could include hula hoops, tunnels, tables, chairs, or other objects you can lead your dog around and under. After mapping the route, use a treat or other reward to lead your dog through the challenges. They will enjoy both the mental and physical challenge of navigating the course you’ve set up.

Search and Rescue (Treat Style)

Using your dog’s favorite treats, place them in hiding spots around your house that your dog will be able to sniff out and access. Then, let them go at it. By sniffing around the house for the treats, your dog will become both mentally and physically exhausted. You can also purchase dog treat puzzles to create a similar experience. Fill them with treats, and then watch your dog work to open all the compartments and find them. Afterward, your dog will be exhausted and satisfied.

Fetch or Chase

A simple game of fetch or chase with a favorite toy can be a great way to get in some exercise. Adding in commands can help keep your dog mentally engaged as they physically tire themselves out.

Tug of War

Tug of war can be a great way to get some exercise for your dog as it works very different muscles than any of the other ideas on this list. However, dog parents should be aware of some risks associated with tug of war and keep an eye out for them. Always make sure you’re using a toy that is appropriate for tug of war and doesn’t shred easily or cause damage to your dog’s mouth or teeth. Also, make sure you have a good power dynamic with your dog before attempting tug of war. If you do not have a good idea of your dog’s strength and instincts, tug of war can get dangerous when let out of hand.

Use a Treadmill

A treadmill can be a great way to get your dog some exercise indoors when used safely. It is essential to always do so with supervision and your dog’s safety in mind. Let your dog get comfortable with the treadmill, and then start them off at the lowest speed. Use treats to keep them on the treadmill and slowly increase the speed as they get better at walking on it. Never tie your dog to the treadmill, as this can be extremely dangerous.

Visit a Pet-Friendly Store

If driving is an option, hop in the car with your dog and head to a pet-friendly store for some fun socialization. Try pet stores, hardware stores, or other pet-friendly stores for a fun adventure sniffing up and down the aisles and exploring a new place.