Ultimate Guide to Exercising Your Dog

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24 Minute Read
Updated March 15, 2021

Like us, doggos and puppers alike need exercise on a regular basis. Our guide to exercising your dog will help you plan a healthy and active routine for your pooch. 

Dog exercise is not only beneficial to a canine’s physical health, but to its mental health too! Getting out and active, as well as socializing with other people and dogs, is crucial to shaping your pet’s behavioural development.

On top of health and behaviour benefits, exercising with your four-legged companion is a sure-fire way for the two of you to bond.

But how much exercise does a dog need exactly? To know for sure what’s right for your pet, it’s important to understand the types of exercise and consider the best exercises for your dog based on their life stage, lifestyle, health, and other factors. Leash running for example allows you to control your pup while he gets the benefits of physical activity.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to exercise your dog and how much exercise your dog needs!

The Importance of Dog Exercise

Exercise is vital for dogs. It not only tones their muscles, but it also keeps your pup’s mind active while helping to keep their metabolism functioning properly.

Without daily physical stimulation and activity, our dogs become lackluster and bored with everyday dog life. This leads to an unhealthy doggy lifestyle that can cause a number of more serious health issues.

When our dogs suffer from a lack of physical stimulation and mental activity they aren’t themselves. Here are some issues that occur if you keep your dog inside all day:

  • Loss of muscle mass. When a dog’s muscular strength is low, its body relies too heavily on his or her joints and tendons. This combined with weight gain can produce serious problems like arthritis.
  • Weight gain. It is very common for pet owners to routinely give their dogs snacks instead of providing them with the physical attention they need. This a highway to canine obesity. Health issues will assuredly come about if your dog is overweight.
  • Bad or destructive behaviour - barking, biting, digging, chewing, howling. Believe it or not, these are all behaviours that can be curbed by consistent exercise.

Simply put, dogs need to exercise regularly. This guide will go over different types of exercises for different types of dogs, and ways you can implement the workouts in their everyday routines.

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How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

Daily exercise truly is the key to raising a healthy, happy dog. Regardless of age and size, all dogs need exercise and an owner who can provide it.

Check out our Dog Exercise Calculator to find out if your pooch is getting enough activity to stay healthy.

Dog exercise Calculator

Are you wondering if your dog is getting enough exercise? Check out our handy dog exercise calculator to find out how much physical activity your dog needs each day.

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While these guidelines are a great starting point, your dog is unique and might not perfectly fit these standards. Make sure you understand your dog's limitations and make adjustments to their exercise routine as needed.

While this blog offers a general guideline for how much exercise your dog needs, knowing how to exercise your dog starts with knowing how much exercise your dog needs specifically. These needs depend on your dog’s age, size, breed, and lifestyle in general.

Exercise Requirements of Different Life Stages

At each life stage, your dog will have different requirements for energy, stimulation, and stamina. Keep their limitations in mind as they develop so you can ensure they are getting appropriate exercise for their needs.

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Puppies

Because puppies are still growing, it’s vital for them to get plenty of exercise and playtime! It is key to have lots of puppy toys for indoor physical and mental play.

Though puppies are full of energy, it is important not to over-exercise them. Over-exercising a puppy while they are still growing can cause serious musculoskeletal damage, leading to conditions such as early-onset arthritis.

Once your puppy is vaccinated, you can start taking them on short walks. The general rule of thumb for walking puppies is to walk five minutes per month of age.

For example, if your puppy is eight months old, you should walk them for about forty minutes per day. This can be one long walk or split into multiple brief outings to better suit your schedule and your stamina.

Remember, the idea is to walk until they are tired, not until you are tired. As your pup matures, you can work to slowly increase their stamina and take them on the long day of walks you’ve been dreaming of.

If your puppy is bursting with energy, even after your walks, try to supplement their exercise with enrichment training and games at home. These activities will teach your puppy some life skills, and help to tire them out, both mentally and physically.

A great and simple enrichment activity for dogs is to use a puzzle feeder. Not only does this provide a fun and interactive way to deliver your puppy's dinner, but it also teaches crucial life skills such as confidence and self-control!

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Adults

Once full-grown, an adult will not need as much attention and guidance as a puppy. In fact, almost all dogs will let you know when they are ready to exercise.

Adult doggos require at least 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise every day. If you are a dog owner with no yard you still must be able to give them that time and energy.

Racing games, dates with other dog friends, and hiking are all great physical activities for adult dogs. Really anything that leaves them snoozing.

Seniors

Once your dog is coming into its golden years, you may wish to slow down and take more relaxed walks. Experts recommend thirty minutes per day for senior dogs, as this is just enough to keep arthritic and tired muscles moving!

For dogs showing signs of mobility issues, it may be better to break that 30 minutes into 2-3 shorter walks throughout the day, giving them a chance to rest in between.

Keeping to the same routes may also be useful for senior dogs who are suffering from some cognitive or directional issues. Familiarity will become your old dog’s best friend! Stick to your neighbourhood, local parks, and similar landmarks to help keep your dog from getting confused, overwhelmed, or scared on your walk.

Over walking your dog can lead to injury, especially as they approach their senior years, but not providing enough exercise can be harmful too. If you aren’t sure of your dog’s limitations, start small and slowly work your way up to a more active routine.

Inactive pets often suffer from obesity and other weight-related issues. Prevent a pudgy pup by creating a moderate but consistent exercise routine.

Exercise Based on Breed

variety-dog-breedsDepending on the breed of your dog, their exercise requirements will vary greatly. A Chihuahua needs around thirty minutes of exercise daily, compared to the larger Border Collie, who can thrive with over two hours of exercise each day.

This variance will not just depend on size, but equally what your pup was bred to do. For example, Great Danes are the largest dog breed in the world, but they were not bred to be highly athletic, so they only need thirty to sixty minutes of exercise a day.

They are much happier stretching out in a sunny spot, watching the world go by.

Toy and Small Breeds

Cute-Toy-Poodle-resting-on-bed

Toy and small breed dogs tend to require less stimulation and physical activity. Though they often seem high-energy, too much exercise can lead to hip and joint issues and unwanted weight loss.

Yes, smaller breed dogs still need to be walked and exercised daily. But not as much is required to keep them in shape. This is because smaller dogs naturally burn more calories at a resting state than larger breeds.

A blend of low impact and high energy activities spread throughout the day is sufficient to keep these dogs healthy.

Medium and Large Breeds

australian-shepherd-dog

These breeds typically require more physical activity to burn calories, maintain muscle, and keep them from getting bored. They can routinely participate in longer excursions like hikes and running and will benefit from trips to the dog park for some roughhousing with their doggy friends.

It’s still important to know their limits, though, so keep an eye out for signs of fatigue and soreness after their high-energy workouts.

Giant Breeds

bernese-dog

Giant breeds such as Mastiffs, Great Pyrenees, and Great Danes, are often on the less active, less energetic side of the doggy spectrum. Daily, but moderate exercise, is required for giant breeds.

It’s important to have them exercise on a daily basis because of their lounging tendencies. Newfoundlands, for example, are notorious for being lazy couch potatoes, which can lead to weight gain and hip and joint issues.

Be sure to exercise your giant breed dogs in moderation with walks and short periods of play.

Signs of soreness after playtime and exercise will be more obvious with giant breeds. They may struggle to get up off the floor or use stairs. This is a big red flag that you are over-exercising your massive pooch.

Dogs That Don’t Need a Lot of Exercise

While all dogs need exercise, some breeds require much less than others. This may be due to their size, their anatomy, or common predispositions to mobility issues. Let’s take a look at a few of the types of dogs that don’t need a lot of exercises.

Flat-Nosed Breeds

french-bulldog

Flat-nosed breeds include pugs, Boston terriers, English and French bulldogs to name a few. The term “flat-nosed” is a quick way to refer to brachycephalic dogs.

Brachycephalic dogs have trouble breathing due to their large tongues, narrowed nostrils, or other anatomical features like tiny tracheas. These contribute to the development of respiratory problems later in life.

Flat-nosed dogs are relatively stubborn about physical exercise and will likely insist on keeping walks short and sweet. They are also not big fans of extreme weather of any variety. Indoor play is their forte.

This does not mean that they are all low energy, but it does mean that you should monitor their activity and be aware of their limitations. Indoor activities, like puppy puzzle toys, are great ways to keep your pug mentally stimulated as well.

Short-Legged Breeds

Breeds with stumpy legs and long backs are often very playful, but over-exercising them can have long-lasting repercussions. This includes Basset Hounds, Corgis, and Dachshunds.

While some may seem lazier than others, these breeds do best with short high-energy exercise throughout the day instead of long marathon activities. High-energy activities are fine, but they should be broken up into 20-30 minute sessions to avoid over-exerting them.

These breeds will benefit from plenty of mental stimulation, so physical exercise can be supplemented with some fun puzzles and indoor games. 

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Greyhounds

Lots of breeds can be grouped together, but Greyhounds are a bit of an anomaly when it comes to exercise needs. When you think of a Greyhound, you probably think of one sprinting around a track chasing a fake rabbit, right?

While it’s true that Greyhounds are fast, they are built for running short distances. Stamina is not their forte. When racing dogs aren’t tearing down the track, they are exceptionally inactive. Greyhounds might actually be one of the laziest breeds.

This doesn’t mean that all greyhounds are lazy, and it doesn’t mean that greyhounds don’t need regular exercise. It just means that you need to consider their natural instincts when developing an exercise routine.

High Energy Dogs Breeds

Chuckit-Kick-Fetch

High energy breeds are dog breeds that relish in exercise and action, and plenty of it. These dogs include Terriers, retrievers, hounds, and shepherds.

Ideally, active breeds should be getting around 60-90 minutes of high-impact exercise every day in order to maintain good health.

These exercises can include anything from playing a sporting game of fetch to racing around your local dog-friendly park.

Warning - Active breeds are known to catch sudden cases of the zoomies when they are feeling pent up. If this is something you notice your dog doing, then it’s a sign that you need to increase his daily mental and physical activity a bit.

Sign that Your Dog Needs More Exercise

A general rule to follow among all breeds of dogs is that if your pup seems restless, he or she likely needs some exercise. This restlessness can manifest in behavioural issues, like destructive chewing and barking, or you may find your dog acting more anxious.

Your dogs can’t talk, so it’s important that you are always on the lookout for behavioural changes, and fluctuations in weight and eating habits. Always increase activity in stages, and try to keep exercise fun and engaging.

Walking the same route every day starts to lose its appeal, so try different activities, environments, and even playmates.

Health Considerations

Before you take your dog out on a long walk or other activity, it is important to consider if your dog has any health conditions that may influence its ability to enjoy it!

It’s important not to push your dog beyond its limits. Overweight dogs, dogs with breathing problems, dogs with limited mobility, and dogs prone to overheating can be at risk. Dogs often don't know when to slow down or take a break, so you have to regulate their activity.

Is Exercise Good for Dogs with Arthritis or Hip Dysplasia?

A dog with hip dysplasia or arthritis may not be able to walk as far or as fast as it used to. Mobility issues, although more prevalent in older dogs, can be diagnosed in dogs as young as 18 months.

Dogs who are limited in their movement due to arthritis or hip dysplasia still need some form of exercise to prevent their health from declining further. Low-impact exercises like swimming or short-distance walks are great options.

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As a result, if you’re planning to take your dog on longer walks or other intense activities regularly, yearly health check-ups are absolutely essential for your pet. There’s no point going on a long walk together if you’re not both going to enjoy it!

Best Exercises for Dogs with Arthritis

Dogs with mobility limitations due to arthritis, hip dysplasia, or other degenerative joint conditions need to be modified for exercise to reduce the pressure and friction on the joints and connective tissues. Light and modified exercises will allow dogs with hip and joint issues and chronic pain to maintain muscle and burn calories without worsening the damaged joints.

Here are some of the best exercises for dogs with arthritis:

  • Swimming reduces your dog's mass, allowing them to work the muscles and get their cardio exercise in without putting pressure on the joints.
  • Casual, short, and frequent on-leash walking will do less damage than off-leash walks, hikes, or running. Controlling your dog’s pace and limiting walks to short distances 2-3 times per day will prevent your dog from over-exerting himself.
  • Low impact games like scent detection, hide and seek, and training can be helpful in providing both physical and mental exercise.

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Exercise for Weight Loss

Obesity in dogs is a common problem that pet owners have to deal with and can become serious rather quickly if ignored. Physical activity and exercise are essential to managing a dog’s weight and helping him shed a few pounds if necessary.

Getting your overweight dog to exercise can be challenging. The key is to start slow. Depending on your dog’s needs, ease into a regular routine and begin increasing the length of time spent exercising each day or week.

It is critical that you stick to your dog weight loss exercise plan! Your dog will get used to it and eventually grow to thoroughly enjoy the extra time together.

Exercise for Mental Illness

Humans aren’t the only ones who can suffer from mental illness. Although they’re not able to verbalize when they’re feeling sad, dogs can struggle with their mental health too.

When dogs are suffering from anxiety, sadness, or boredom, you’ll likely notice certain physical symptoms. Depressed dogs often sleep a lot, show a loss of appetite, experience drastic weight loss, and other signs. Anxious dogs might hide, tremble and show signs of being fearful.

Both physical and mental exercise is essential to maintaining your dog’s mental health and preventing depression caused by boredom or loneliness. A good long walk or hour of uninterrupted playtime can really lift your dog’s mood, leaving them feeling energized and happy.

Dog Stress & Anxiety Solutions

How to Exercise Your Dog

When we talk about exercise, we almost always lean towards a conversation about physical activity. Of course, physicality is vital, but including a regular set of mental exercises in your dog’s day-to-day is also instrumental in keeping him or her on their paws.

From the start, you and your dog will find that these physical and mental exercises go hand-in-hand, (or paw-in-paw).

Physical Exercises for Your Dog

As you know, physical exercise for doggos comes in many different forms. The most common and maybe the most naturally beneficial activity a dog can participate in is walking.

Getting your dog to move his or her legs every day is essential to maintaining healthy cardiovascular and muscular systems.

Try not to push your dog beyond their limits. Overweight dogs, dogs with breathing problems, and dogs prone to overheating can be at risk. Dogs often don't know when to slow down or take a break, so you have to regulate their activity.

Outdoor Exercise for Dogs

There’s nothing better than some fresh air and good company! It’s no surprise that dogs enjoy getting outdoors for some fun in the sun.

You can bring your dog along with you on many of the outdoor activities that you enjoy doing yourself. However, it’s important to keep in mind your dog’s limitations.

Temperature is another crucial factor to consider! If you live in a warmer climate, it is important to factor this into your exercise routines.

Check out How to Cool Down a Dog for more tips on staying cool in warm weather so that you and your dog can still enjoy your daily adventures.

1. Walking, Running or Jogging

dog-walking-loose-leash

Walking your dog can be one of the most pleasurable parts of dog ownership, but it can also be tough to know if you're walking your dog enough! If you are wondering how long should I walk my dog for? – the honest answer is, it depends on their life stage, size, breed and health considerations.

Check out How Long Should I Walk my Dog For? For tips on finding the right routine for your unique pooch.

2. Hiking and Camping

If you like to be more adventurous and like to explore the wilderness with your dog, make sure you have the right hiking or camping gear to keep your dog safe, and plan downtime and breaks into your trip.

If your dog can't keep up on your hike or run, then don't bring him along. Instead, stick to a more casual daily walking routine that better suits his age, health, and energy needs.

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3. Playing Fetch

A good ol’ round of fetch is one of the best outdoor games to play with your furry best friend. Kong toys, frisbees and tennis balls are great toys to get your dog excited!

4. Dog Exercise Toys

The best way to encourage regular exercise in your dog is to make workouts fun and engaging. Toys are a great way to push your dog to be a little more active and it will keep their mind engaged.

Best Dog Toys for Exercise

ChuckIt! Classic Ball Launcher

Fetch is one of the best high-energy games to include in your dog’s workout. Short games of fetch can be maximized when you use the ChuckIt! Classic Ball Launcher. This lightweight and durable accessory can send your dog's favourite ball two to three times further, giving your dog a fun and satisfying cardio workout.

West Paw Zisc Flying Disc

Frisbees are a great alternative the boring old tennis balls. The West Paw Zisc is built tough but made of flexible material making it safer for your dog’s teeth. Made from 100% recyclable material and backed by a 100% tough guarantee, the Zisc is a great addition to your dog’s exercise routine.

It also floats, so you can take it to the lake and get your dog some wataerobics, and they even offer a glow-in-the-dark version to accommodate evening playtime. 

Jolly Pet Jolly Egg

Backyard playtime is an excellent way to keep your dog active when you can’t get out and explore nature. The Jolly Egg is not a ball, and it’s not a chew toy. This oblong, hard-shelled toy is meant for chasing, nudging, kicking, rolling. Your dog can’t pick it up, but he will have a blast trying.

Kurgo Skipping Stones

Kurgo stones

Who says your dog gets to have all the fun. Kurgo Skipping Stones are a great land or water fetch toy that lets you play too! The flat, curved rubber stones are perfect for skipping across lakes and ponds, and the erratic bounce on land will really test your dog’s agility.

Flossy 4 Knot Rope

Tug-o-war is a great way to get both your and your dog’s blood pumping. You don’t need a lot of space to play but you do need a durable rope toy, like the Flossy Chew 4 Knot Rope. The knots give you both a good grip so you can really test your dog’s strength and stamina. The length allows for plenty of space between your fingers and your dog’s powerful jaw.

Rope-Toys

5. Swimming

Active breeds, like golden retrievers, love the water. Teaching your dog to swim has several benefits, including it being one of the healthiest ways for any animal to exercise!

Visiting the beach or a nearby lake can be just as fun for your pet as it is for you. Bring along some water toys that can be thrown long distances and float for your water-loving canine.

6. Bike Ride-Alongs

Bringing your dog along with you as your ride your bike is an invigorating way for you both to get some intense exercise. It can be dangerous to let your dog run next to you off-leash, so be sure to invest in the right equipment to safely secure your dog to your bike.

Also, dogs can’t and won’t tell you when they need to slow down, so keep an eye on them as you’re riding and take breaks to make sure they’re not getting burnt out.

7. Dog Parks

For the social dog, the dog park is the ultimate form of exercise. Dog parks allow your pooch to freely romp around with you and other dogs.

If you plan to visit the dog park often, it’s important to make sure your dog stays up to date on vaccines, as well as flea and tick medicine! Check out Dog Park Etiquette to ensure that both you and your dog are being safe and respectful of these public spaces. 

8. Outdoor Obstacle Course

Teach your dog something new with an outdoor obstacle course. Use what you can to create a course of things to jump over, crawl under and sprint around.

Indoor Exercise for Dogs

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You can’t predict the weather, but you don’t have to let it interfere with your dog’s regular activities, either. Rain, snow, or shine, these simple indoor exercises for dogs will prevent unnecessary weight gain, support muscle, and deter bored and destructive behaviours.

It’s hard to ignore our instinct to hibernate during winter. Our dogs feel it too. Harsh winter weather drives us indoors and limits your and your pet’s usual exercise routines. This can lead to your pet packing on some unwanted weight, not to mention encouraging lazy habits.

For more information about your pet's weight, check out Weight Loss Dog Food for weight management tips and to find the food to help your dog maintain a healthy weight and eating routine.

To help your dog overcome the winter blues, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite indoor activities for how to exercise your dog inside. They will keep both you and your dog active and entertained.

1. Indoor Obstacle Course

hurdlesUsing your home’s natural landscape, you can amp up your dog’s cardio routine by using your stairs. Fetch and tag are both great games to play using stairs. Your dog will work up a sweat after a few trips up and down those steps, and you will too.

Building a miniature indoor obstacle course is both a fun activity and a fantastic way for your dog to stay in shape. Use whatever you have, and get creative. A footstool is now a hurdle. Your couch cushions can make for a fun maze. Teach your dog to crawl under your coffee table.

Check out our huge selection of fun games and toys to keep your dog active indoors.

The obstacles can be simple and geared for less active dogs, or you can test your high-energy dog with a more challenging setup.

For some fun, simple tips, check out DIY Indoor Dog Obstacle Course.

2. Play Dates

There is no better workout buddy for your dog than his friends. Invite a few of your dog’s best pals over for some playtime. Even indoors, the pups will be pooped by the end.

If your dog prefers the company of people, then invite over your friends and tell them to bring their kids. It’s hard to turn down all those free belly rubs. Plus, kids will run circles around your dog, keeping him occupied and moving.

3. Workout with Your Dog

Got a treadmill at home? If it’s anything like mine, it’s currently collecting dust. Make use of your treadmill by training your dog to use it. It should never replace all walks, but it’s a simple replacement for a short walk when the weather is particularly nasty.

Always start nice and slow. Allow him to get comfortable before you get up to their regular walking pace. You can use treats or toys to keep them moving at first. To prevent the risk of injury, never leave them unattended on a treadmill, and keep a moderate steady pace to prevent exerting them.

Push-ups aren’t just for people anymore. This fun game isn’t quite the “drop and give me 20” you are probably picturing when we say push-ups, though. Doggie push-ups are a great low-intensity indoor exercise for your dog, so it’s great for dogs of all ages and activity levels.

To get started, your dog only needs to know two basic tricks: sit and lay. Ask your dog to sit, then lay, then sit again. Reward them with treats or praise after each step, then repeat. It’s as simple as that.dog-training-hand

4. Dancing

Would your dog dance... if you asked him to dance? Your dog may not be the dance partner you’d imagined, but your dog may be able to bust a move better than you think. There are no rules for dog dancing. Just keep your dog moving by getting him to follow you and copy your movements.

If you can, get him to stand on his hind legs, grab his paws and try out a waltz or a two-step. You may just find out that your dog is a better dancer than you, or you could find out he has four left paws. Either way, dancing is a great way to keep your dog active, especially in smaller spaces.

5. Flirt Poles

Invoke your dog’s natural prey drive with a flirt pole. A flirt pole is essentially a toy on a string at the end of a stick. You can buy them at your local pet store or try to make one yourself. Try to wiggle the “prey” a little to give it the appearance of being alive.

Once your dog has locked on target, he’ll lunge at the prey. Pull the stick away by turning the other way or lifting it up. Make sure to end your session by letting him catch the prey and rewarding him with a tasty treat, allowing you to put the flirt pole away safely.

This one is best done in larger spaces, so slide couches and furniture out of harm to keep you and your pet safe during this high-intensity activity.

6. Bubbles

Jack-russel-chasing-bubbles

Who doesn’t love playing with bubbles? Humans and dogs alike love to chase and catch bubbles. Depending on your dog’s activity level and determination, bubble chasing can be quite a vigorous workout. Keep your bubble session short to prevent overworking your dog.

Stick to natural, non-toxic ingredients by making your own bubble solution. Just 1-part unscented, non-toxic dish soap and 3 parts water will do the trick. Stick to easy-to-clean areas in your house or put down a blanket or carpet that can be easily washed.

If bubbles are too messy, you can substitute them with small balloons. Just make sure that your dog is not eating the balloons. If one pops, quickly remove any shrapnel. Avoid balloons that are small enough to fit in their mouth to prevent choking or ingestion risks.

7. Balance Board

Teaching your dog balance is a tougher workout than you might think. It engages many muscles and is a great way to practice commands like stay and place. You can even make your own using a circular board and a large tennis ball cut in half. Glue each half of the tennis ball to the center of both sides of the board.

Slowly encourage your dog to stand on the edges, rewarding for each progression. Once your dog is entirely on the board, you want to coax them closer to the middle, where their weight will shift the balance of the board. Continuously reward them when they can balance the board, even if just for a second or two.

Your dog may never have perfect balance, but practicing their balance on the board as it shifts under their weight will engage tons of muscles.

8. Hula Hoop

Teach your dog to literally jump through hoops. Dig out your old hula hoop (c’mon we know you had one in the ’90s) or swing by your local dollar store for a cheap one. Use the hula hoop as part of your indoor obstacle course, or just use it on its own.

Start by getting your dog to walk through the hoop while holding it at ground level. Slowly raise the hoop a couple of inches at a time until your dog must hop to get through the hoop. Make sure you are offering lots of praise and rewards. With enough time and practice, your dog will be leaping majestically through the hoop like he's part of a circus act.

Mental Exercise for Dogs

Dogs need to exercise both their bodies and their minds. Walking or jogging around the neighbourhood or through the park and discovering new smells provides great mental stimulation.

On days when we spend more time inside than out, there are many ways to excite your dog’s brain.

Dog Puzzle Toys

Here is a quick list of mental exercises you can practice with your puppy or dog.

1. Learning New Tricks

Working on a new trick with or teaching a new task to your dog will provide her with great mental stimulation! Grab some treats and get to work.

2. Interactive Games and Puzzle Toys

Interactive toys and games, such as puzzles, help dogs to develop problem-solving skills. Puzzle toys with compartments to hide treats make your dog work for their food while enjoying a fun activity.

Best Dog Toys for Mental Exercise

Nina Ottoson Dog Tornado

This top-selling puzzle toy for dogs will test your dog's problem-solving skills. Hide a tasty treat in each compartment and watch as your dog nudges, paws, and flips each piece to uncover the tasty treasure inside.

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Kong Wobbler

The puzzle toy that wobbles but it won’t fall down. Throw a handful of treats or kibble into the Kong Wobbler and let your dog bat it around the house to knock out the goodies one at a time. In addition to being mentally stimulating, the Kong is a great low-impact workout for dogs with limited mobility.

Kong Wobbler Video

Zippy Paws SmartPaws Puzzler

Another great puzzle toy, the Zippy Paws SmartPaws Puzzler offers 3 adjustable levels of difficulty to keep your dog guessing and thinking each time he plays. Just fill the puzzle with your dog’s favourite snacks or kibble and he’ll follow his nose to uncover the goodies.

Zippy Paws SmartyPaws Puzzler

Nina Ottosson Treat Tumble

Another great low impact exercise, the Nina Ottosson Treat Tumble is a treat-dispensing ball that is perfect for dogs that are new to puzzle toys. Your dog must learn to push and chase the weighted ball to get tasty snacks to fall out of the hole. 

Outward Hound Cagey Cube

Not all puzzle toys for dogs require food or treats. If your dog is a ball fanatic, then the Outward Hound Cagey Cube is what you need. The Cagey Cube is made from synthetic rubber and can fit a variety of tennis balls of varying sizes for your dog to try to free. It’s soft enough for indoor play but tough enough to be tossed and kicked.

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3. Rotating Out Toys

Rotating out toys is extremely beneficial to your dog’s mental health. When you introduce new toys regularly, your dog is forced to adjust and use mental muscles to build new relationships and patterns.

Check out our 50 Best Dog Toys for a complete list of toys your dog will love to chew, fetch and exercise with!

4. Meeting New Faces

Social interaction is another great way to keep your dog’s brain stimulated and excited. Meeting new people and other dogs gets your dog’s tail wagging and his mind activated! This could include play dates with friends, dog daycare, or trips to the dog park.

Exercise With Your Dog!

We all need to move our bodies to stay healthy. Owning a dog is one of the best ways to make sure you're getting the right amount of daily physical activity yourself! Walks and hikes are pretty standard activities, but even indoor games can keep you both active and moving.

Exercising your dog doesn’t have to be complicated. Hide-and-seek, tag, and tug-of-war are great examples of some simple games you can play inside that will get both of your blood pumping.

Make sure you know his limitations and find a routine that works for both of you. And most importantly, be consistent. Your dog’s health depends on it!

Whether you are the proud parent of a newborn Frenchie or an ageing, silver-furred Saint Bernard, you must always make time for good old-fashioned dog exercise.

You see, dogs have available only what their owner affords them. So be sure to give your dog exactly what they need! Tons of love and playtime.

Written by

Krystn Janisse

Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channeling some crazy cat lady vibes with her four lovable, but rebellious cats.

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