People say you need to walk the dog every day. This isn’t true. Yes, you should walk your dog often, but it doesn’t have to be every day. Maybe it’s too hot or cold for a walk; maybe it’s raining; or maybe you’re just plain exhausted. Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of alternatives to walking Max around the block.
So without further ado, here they are.
Before your treadmill is fit for doggy exercise, you’ll first need to get your dog used to it. Start by having Max sit beside the treadmill and get him accustomed to the noise and motion. Next, you can place him on the treadmill and turn it on slow. Most dogs will need occasional treats to keep them motivated. Gradually increase the speed. Once Max gets used to the treadmill, it may be tempting to walk off, but please don’t. He could get hurt while you’re away. But with proper precautions, the treadmill makes an excellent substitute for the classic walk.
You probably guessed this one would be on the list. Despite being cliché, fetch is still a wonderful way for Fido to burn 200 calories while you use only 2! This game is best played outside, where you won’t endanger any fine china; but if the weather is bad, then a spacious room could do the trick. Remember, you don’t need tennis balls to play fetch. Almost any type of medium-sized ball will work. Or if you don’t have that, then Max will also enjoy a Frisbee or a stick. If you have a particularly energetic dog, you can still tire him out this way. Just move the game of fetch over to a staircase and have him run up and down until he is good and tired.
“In one corner, we have an 80-pound Golden Retriever, World Slobbering Champion! And in the other corner, we have a 180-pound woman, Netflix Bingeing Champion of America! Rrready? Now fight!”
But seriously, tug-of-war is a great game that doesn’t even require you to leave the couch.
Even so, a word of caution before you begin: this game should only be played if you and Max get along well. If your dog is aggressive or doesn’t obey your commands, then this playtime could turn into a struggle for dominance. So keep that in mind.
4. Treat Toss
This option might be the easiest one on the whole list. Simply sit on the couch and toss treats about the room.
5. Hide and Seek
If you have kids (or if your relatives/friends with kids are visiting), then it’s time for a game! While you rest your aching back on the couch, have Max come over and sit on the floor next to you. Now everyone hides. Once the hiders are hidden, have them call to Max. Most dogs won’t need any more encouragement. Instinctively, dogs will go to their humans, especially when called.
However, if you live alone, then you can still play. Try taking your dog’s favorite toy or bone and hiding it. Practice making Max sit while you go and hide the toy. Of course, if he can see what you are doing, then the game’s already over. Ideally, you would walk around the house for this, but if that’s not in the cards right now, then hide the item in as many different places as you can reach without standing up.
6. Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are perfect for exercising Max’s mind as well as body. There is an impressive variety of puzzle toys available, so you should definitely shop around.
But perhaps you are more of the DIY type. In that case, you still have plenty of options, (too many to name here, in fact); but here are a few ideas to get you started. If you have an old shaggy rug you wouldn’t mind damaging, you could hide treats in it, and Max would have to scrape them out with his paws before eating. Alternatively, you use an empty 2 liter soda bottle. Once it’s been cleaned, cut holes in it, insert some treats, and presto! It’s finished. Your dog is in for hours of fun pushing the bottle around with his nose and munching on the treats. One last suggestion: this one needs a retired muffin tin. Take the tin, place a few treats in each indent, and cover each indent with a tennis ball. Max will have to remove the balls so he can get at the treats.
Again, this is about exercising both the body and mind. From the comfort of your couch, you can teach Max commands, such as “sit”, “stay”, “drop it”, and more. As for tricks, you could practice shaking hands; you might want to have him jump over or crawl under your legs; you could teach him the names of his toys, and ask him to fetch a certain one. Try to think creatively. Your dog will thank you.
8. Obstacle Course
Does your dog have agility training? Obviously, if he does, then you already know a great way to exercise him. But if he does not, then no problem! You can still set up barriers for him to jump over, or tunnels for him to crawl through. You can use almost anything for this — boxes, crates, chairs, couch cushions, and more. You could even try making a maze. Whatever you do, always remember to reward Max with treats at the end.
9. Dog-Friendly Places
Consider driving Max to a dog-friendly place, taking him off the leash, and letting him have fun! Possible places to go include a dog park or a neighbor’s empty fenced-in field. Even dog pools are a real thing. Although there aren’t that many in the U.S. yet, you might still be able to find one near you. For that matter, if you have a friend with a pool, perhaps you could bring Max over for a swim.
If you know in advance that you will be exhausted this week, try setting up a play date with one of your friends and her dog. The dogs can play with each other while the humans relax and chat. Or, if all else fails, you can always hire a dog walker.
And there you have it — 10 alternatives to walking the dog.
Before I wrap up this post, I have to give credit where credit is due. Many of the suggestions in this post were inspired by an article from dog trainer and fellow blogger, Katrin. And she had even more ideas than I! If you want to check out the original post, then here it is:
So until next time: stay fuzzy, my friends!