Woman playing with a dog indoors

The winter months can be boring for dogs and challenging for their owners. In areas where the winter temperatures get very low, it is ill-advised to take your dog out for very long walks and consistent exercising becomes a rare occurrence. During very chilly days, even toilet duties may be done indoors if your pooch is trained for that.

Dogs need exercise, training, and playtime, however. This can become a problem for owners who lack creativity and keep their pets confined in a small apartment. For the times when you can’t leave your home but need to give your Fido some mental stimulation and physical exercise, here are 16 ways to exercise them while staying indoors.

Run your dog up and down the stairs

In homes with big flights of stairs, running up and down can be a great exercise for your dog. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a good exercise for some dogs. If your dog is old, has health issues, has – or is prone to – arthritis and other joint problems, etc. – don’t do this.

Set up obstacle courses

In rooms that are spacious enough you can easily set obstacle courses for your dog. Jumping over chairs, going under tables, circling around pillars – most things you see on dog shows can be replicated at home. Your dog will get the exercise he needs and will love the game and the treats.

Hide & seek with treats

Playtime is a favorite of many dogs. You can exercise both the body of your pooch, as well as their nose with this: stash treats in hidden places in your home and teach your dog to find them. You can change the hiding places each day to keep the game interesting.

Hide & seek together

You can even play hide and seek together with your dog. Tell your dog to sit in a room and go hide. Then call your dog and let them find you. The game can be even more interesting with several people. Of course, the goal here isn’t winning, but to have fun with your dog and give them plenty of exercise.

Keep away

Also called “Monkey” as well as several other names, Keep away is a game that you can easily play at home if you have some space. You’ll need someone else to play with you and your dog. Just get a ball, throw it to each other and let the dog have fun trying to get it.


With a long corridor or a spacious living room, you can also play fetch at home. Your dog needs to be relatively small too, but for such breeds indoors fetch can be as good of an exercise as outdoors fetch.

Take a car ride to another indoors place

Being indoors doesn’t mean that you can’t go to another person’s house. If your dog has friends that they likes to play with in the park, you can go visit them in the winter (or invite them to your place). This is great for socializing dogs and for letting them play together.

Go to a local indoor pet center

If not to another dog owner’s house, you can take your dog to a local indoor pet center. Such places offer great exercises for dogs and are perfect for socialization as well.

Teach your dog to use the treadmill

Dogs can use the treadmill, preferably those designed specifically for pets. They need a bit of training, however – first get your dog used to a dog treadmill when it’s turned off. Then, turn it on at a slow pace. Don’t leash your dog on the treadmill – just keep an eye on them and give them treats from the front end of the treadmill.

Tug of war

Tug of war is another fun game and good exercise. Play it with caution, however. Tug of war can make your dog overly competitive and can lead to aggressive behavior in some breeds. Always establish your position as the “leader” in your home and remember to lighten the mood when your dog gets too invested in the game.

Canine conditioning classes online

There are some great online classes for canine conditioning. Similar to online or TV fitness programs for people, classes like E-training for dogs, FitPAWS, Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, and others are a great way to exercise your pooch indoors.

Training obedience, skills or new tricks

It’s always a great idea to train your dog. Anything from obedience to new tricks can keep your dog’s mind busy and their body – active. If you train your dog properly and give them proper treats and verbal rewards, the training will be both a great exercise and a very pleasurable activity for both of you.

Mind puzzles

Mind puzzles aren’t just for your dog’s mind – dogs become very active when faced with a mental challenge. Something like a food puzzle dispenser is great exercise for your dog. You can take your dog several different food puzzle dispensers and change them every couple of days.

Indoors swimming

If your puppy is small enough and you have a relatively sizable bath – swimming can be another great exercise. Just be careful not instill a fear of water in your dog.

Give your dog a job

If you’ve trained your dog obedience, as well as the names of some household objects, you can give your pooch chores. You can teach them to gather clothes from the floor and the furniture and to take them to the dirty clothes basket. You can tell them to tidy up their toys so that you can vacuum the place. You can even teach your dog to bring you things.

Get your dog some new toys, chew toys or chew bones

Toys are always a great way to burn some calories. Some dogs get crazy for chew toys and bones, so getting your dog a new toy can give them several days’ worth of exercise.