By Nicole Pajer
Note: Before trying any of these exercise techniques, confirm with your vet that your dog is healthy enough. Also note that some breeds, for example those with short legs, may not be well-suited for activites that involve going up and down steps or obstacles.
Dogs need their daily exercise, and even things like it being too cold or hot outside or the days getting shorter shouldn’t get in the way. One of the most important parts of Cesar’s teachings is that you need to walk your dog every day, several times a day no matter what the weather is like.
However, if you absolutely cannot take your dog out because it’s unsafe, here are some tips on how to work out your dog’s body and mind indoors. Remember, though, that our dogs need limitations, meaning that you control when and for how long they engage in indoor play. Substituting other activities for the walk for too long and too often may lead to your dog developing unhealthy obsessions.
1. Run your dog up and down the stairs.
Using the stairs is a great way to tire out your dog. The steps add an additional challenge to a dog’s workout, as they engage different muscles than those used on a regular walk or run and add an extra level of difficulty with the change in elevation. Stand at the top of the stairs and throw a toy down to your dog. When your dog grabs the toy, call his name and have him bring the toy to you. After several rounds of this, he’ll be winded.
2. Set up obstacle courses.
Whenever Cesar enters someone’s house on the show, he looks around for things in the environment that can be repurposed to help the dog. Like using that old hula hoop for him to leap through or using cushions to create a tunnel for him to navigate. Map everything out and lead your dog through the various obstacles. This game will challenge your dog both mentally and physically.
3. Make your dog work for its treats.
Take a variety of your dog’s favorite treats and hide the around the house – behind doors, under tables, underneath rugs, etc. Your dog will be so busy tracking down his treats that he’ll physically tire out in the process. Treat dispensing toys are another great way to keep your dog busy and engage them physically as they push around their toys and try to get to the food inside.
4. Keep away and fetch.
Engage your dog in a good old fashioned game of fetch and keep away. These games keep your dog engaged, active, and help to release pent up energy.
5. Take a socialized outing.
Put your dog in the car (always remember to use a car restraint!) and head over to the nearest pet store. Walk your dog through the aisles, let him try out toys and sniff around.
6. Get your dog on the treadmill.
A treadmill is a great way to get your dog a dose of healthy indoor exercise. First, allow your dog to get comfortable with the sight and sound of a running treadmill. Next, place your dog on the treadmill and give him a treat. Turn the treadmill on the lowest speed. Give him treats to keep him on the treadmill. You may use the dog’s leash as an aid but never tie your dog to the treadmill. Also, standing in front of the treadmill and rewarding him with treats for walking might make your dog feel more comfortable. Once your dog is adjusted, you can gradually increase the speed to provide a more challenging workout.
7. Tug of War—But Be Aware of the Risks
With the amount of ropes and toys available that encourage tug of war, it’s not surprising that so many dog owners play this game with their dog. However, you need to be aware of the risk. It’s a game that brings out the predator in your dog and can be unhealthy for your relationship if you don’t have trust and respect to begin with. You need to have control over your dog’s power and instincts before you can engage in a healthy game of tug of war with them.
What’s your dog’s favorite indoor exercise? Tell us all about it in the comments.