Exercise is essential to your dog's physical and mental well-being. A dog who gets regular exercise is more likely to stay fit and trim, avoiding obesity and the many health problems that come with it. If you can't take your dog outside for a workout, you can still get the same benefits by using games and interactive toys indoors.
Other Benefits of Regular Exercise
In addition to health benefits, exercise also helps eliminate destructive or problematic behavior -- from chewing the furniture to excessive barking -- and can help fight stress and anxiety. For dogs with digestive or mobility issues, exercise can provide relief and serve as a form of physical therapy.
Reasons to Exercise Indoors
If the yard is covered with snow and ice or if the weather is too hot, you might want to keep doggy inside. This is especially important for brachycephalic breeds -- those with flat faces -- which are more susceptible to heat stroke and should only exercise in cool weather or in air-conditioned areas.
Keeping Active Inside
If you have to exercise your dog indoors, interactive games can be a good way to provide the dogs with playful exercise and bonding time. Laser pointers are often used for kitty playtime, but there's no rule that says dogs won't love it as well. For a quick game of chase, simply point the laser on the floor and move it quickly back and forth to get Fido running.
You can make the chase even more difficult by adding obstacles along the way. Simply place chairs, pillows or large cardboard boxes so your dog must walk around or under them in order to get where the treats are. Lead him through the maze yourself if he has trouble understanding the concept.
You can create your own game of hide and seek by hiding treats around a room or throughout the house. You can also hide the treats inside a trick ball or toy -- sold at pet stores -- or inside a small cardboard box that you have sealed with tape. Then let your dog spend time and energy hunting down or trying to "free" the treats.
Another easy way to exercise your dog indoors is to use your home plan to your advantage. If you have stairs, run with doggy up and down or throw a ball so he can chase it. If you have a corridor instead, you can roll a ball down it for a quick game of catch. And don't forget your treadmill either -- dogs can be trained to walk on them at a low speed to help them burn off extra energy.