Indoor Exercise for Dogs: Staying Active Year Round

Indoor Exercise for Dogs: Staying Active Year Round

As a dog owner, you know that exercise is key to your pup’s physical and emotional well-being. But realistically, finding time to take your furry friend on long walks or outdoor adventures can be a challenge. 

Plus, Mother Nature can put a damper on outdoor fun with extreme temperatures, snow, rain, and less daylight during the winter months. Sometimes, you have no choice but to exercise your dogs indoors. 

But how? 

Let’s explore the importance of indoor exercise for dogs, learn about its connection to gut health, and review some simple indoor exercises for dogs.

Benefits of Exercise for Dogs

Regular exercise is not just about burning off energy; it plays a vital role in maintaining a dog's physical and mental health. 

Improve Physical Health

Much like humans, exercise is key to your dog’s overall physical health. It can help lower blood pressure, build up muscle, and support healthy bones and joints. 

Maintain Healthy Weight

Ongoing exercise can help dogs maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if needed. The 2022 U.S. State of Pet Obesity Report showed that 59% of dogs were classified as overweight or obese in 2022. Pet obesity increases the risk of skin and respiratory disorders, renal dysfunction, metabolic and endocrine disorders like diabetes, orthopedic diseases like osteoarthritis, and more. 

Mental Stimulation

Dogs need mental stimulation to stay happy, healthy, and well-behaved. Daily exercise and training challenges help to prevent boredom, improve mood, and reduce the likelihood of destructive behaviors in your home.

Boost Social Skills 

Many dog exercises involve interaction with their human companions or other dogs. Therefore, exercise provides opportunities to build your dog’s social skills and reinforces their bond with you and the other humans in their life.

Better Gut Health

Regular physical activity can aid in maintaining a healthy digestive system by promoting proper bowel movements and preventing constipation. Additionally, the mental stimulation from exercise can reduce stress, positively impacting the digestive process.

Support Your Pet’s Gut Health with Maya Pet

12 Indoor Exercise Ideas for Dogs

Father and daughter sitting on the floor and playing with their dog

But, what about when you can’t get outside? Did you know a lot of outdoor activities can actually be modified for indoor fun? Here are a few ways to exercise your dog indoors that are sure to get them moving — and be fun for you, too! 

Hide and Seek

Hide your dog’s favorite treats or toys around the house and encourage them to find them. Playing hide and seek engages their sense of smell and provides mental stimulation.

Obstacle Course

Create a mini indoor obstacle course using common household items like cardboard boxes, cushions, pillows, brooms, blankets, and chairs. Guide your dog through the course to improve agility and coordination.

Tug of War

A classic indoor game that not only provides physical exercise but also strengthens the bond between you and your dog. Use a sturdy rope or toy for safe play.


Modify your usual game of outdoor fetch for indoor fun. Utilize a long hallway or push furniture to create a more open space to play — and opt for a soft toy or ball to avoid any accidents. 

Treat Toss

As a variation on fetch, toss your dog’s favorite treats. You can make them jump to catch it in the air or toss it for them to run after. 

Interactive Toys & Puzzle Toys

Invest in interactive toys that move on their own, forcing your dog to chase or follow them. Some even dispense treats as they go, combining movement and mental stimulation with a tasty reward.

Stair Climbing

If you have a staircase at home, use it to your advantage. Encourage your dog to climb up and down the stairs to work on their leg muscles and cardiovascular health. 


Blow pet-safe bubbles and let your dog chase and pop them. It's a playful and entertaining way to get them moving. Plus, it’s always good for a few laughs!

Indoor Swimming

Consider some indoor swimming for a low-impact exercise that’s easy on the joints. For smaller dogs, you may be able to use your bathtub. For large dogs, a kiddie pool in the garage or basement is a good option. 


Run around your house and encourage your dog to chase you. If you live in an apartment or shared housing where noise is a concern, don’t forget to be considerate of your neighbors. 

Doggy Daycare 

If your budget allows, consider sending your dog to an indoor doggy daycare facility. They can spend the day running around and playing with other dogs to their heart's content. 

Indoor Walks

Similar to the mall walking trend, leash up your dog and visit pet-friendly businesses in your area. You’d be surprised how many steps you and your dog can get while weaving in and out of the aisles. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to teach your dog how to behave in different surroundings. 

Exercise is Part of Holistic Health for Pets

If you want to keep your dog happy and healthy, indoor play is part of a holistic approach to wellness. By incorporating these indoor activities into your pet's routine, you not only help them stay physically fit but also contribute to their mental and emotional well-being.