How To Exercise Your Dog Indoors (The Right Way)

If you’re looking for how to exercise your dog indoors, this guide will walk you through the right ways to do it.

In the hierarchy of dog’s needs, exercise is listed under the biological section, alongside feeding, shelter, fresh water, and even air. [1]

This means exercise is just as important as the food your dog eats, the water it drinks, and the air it breathes.

Just as other biological needs should be met daily, exercise has the same requirement.

However, life can be unpredictable, and you may have days or weeks when it will be difficult or even impossible to take your dog outdoors for the usual walks.

An injury, fatigue, and the weather could have an impact on the daily doggy exercise. During this period, you need a suitable alternative. This alternative is an indoor exercise for dogs.

How do you exercise your dog indoors?

This guide is here to put you through the right ways to exercise your dog indoors, and by the end, you will have all you need to meet your dog’s exercise requirements without stepping outside! 

First, A Warning…

You should ensure that your dog is healthy enough to attempt the exercises that will be suggested in this guide.

For this, you will need to consult a veterinarian who will run through some checkups to ascertain whether your dog is fit for indoor exercises.

Also, understand that these indoor activities are meant to be supplements or alternatives to outdoor activities, not a total replacement for them.

As you may already know, taking a dog outside is enriching. Your dog could also develop some unhealthy obsessions if you completely replace outside walks with indoor counterparts. [2]

How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

Beagle Dog Jumping and Running with Toy Outdoors

All adult dogs need daily exercise, but not the same amount. The latter depends on the breed, exact age, size, and activity level of the dog in question.

Some dogs could do with 20 minutes of exercise, others require a minimum of an hour. 

Puppies need even less exercise, just a couple of minutes of walks could meet a puppy’s requirement.

The same applies to seniors. Regardless, do not make the mistake of neglecting their exercise based on age. You would be endangering their health. 

While getting a particular breed, do enough research (or consult an expert) to figure out the dog’s needs.

The next two sections will help kickstart the process by providing the exercise requirements of different ages and breed sizes. 

Exercise Requirements of Different Life Stages


Puppies do not need long, intensive exercise, but they require lots of it.

You must include playtime in their daily activities, and puppies need a lot more indoor activities than adults.

They are too fragile for serious outdoor exercises, especially when they’re too young. Exercise should be confined to the indoors at that stage.

When the puppy grows to an extent, you can take it outdoors for a few minutes’ walk.

It is recommended that you walk the pup five minutes for every month, but this hasn’t been proven to be true. [3]

Adult Dogs

Adults will need more exercise than puppies, and a lot of them will give signals when they want to go outside.

Exercise varies from a few minutes to an hour or even more.

Adults shouldn’t rely on indoor activities like puppies, but they can benefit from some living room workouts and games. 

Senior Dogs

Older years for dogs signify less exercise, and the general advice is that seniors shouldn’t be exercised for more than 30 minutes.

Seniors can cope with moderate outdoor activities, but they thrive indoors as they can get exhausted from being outside for long.

Exercise Requirements of Different Breed Sizes

Toy & Small Dog Breeds

Chihuahua in Agility Training

The toy or small dog breed needs the least amount of exercise, regardless of how energetic it might be.

Its joints are small and may get injured if overexerted. Small dogs also burn calories faster than their bigger relatives, so too much exercise can lead to excessive weight loss.

Small breeds need daily exercise, but 30 minutes is enough.

These minutes can be divided into two segments to make it easier for both you and the dog. Small dogs will benefit more from indoor exercises. 

Medium & Large Dog Breeds

Border Collie Playing Fetch

Generally, medium and large breeds need more exercise as they tend to be more energetic than smaller dogs.

They also need to burn more calories, and they get bored easier.

They can go for longer distances without getting tired, and the minimum exercise level for many dog breeds is up to an hour.

Some medium and large dogs can cope indoors, but the majority need a home with a yard.

If you need to keep one in your living room, ensure you have enough space. Apartment dwellers are usually advised to get a small dog breed. 

Giant Dog Breeds

Cane Corso Dog Running Outdoors

Giant dogs include the Mastiff, Great Danes, and Great Pyrenees. Unlike what you might expect, these dogs aren’t highly energetic.

Some are even tagged “couch potatoes” because they can lie around all day if left to their whims.

It is dangerous to skip their exercises, however, as they are prone to weight gain and joint problems. 

Giant dog breeds need moderate exercises, ranging from a short walk to playtime.

They can live indoors but are not always suitable for apartment dwellers because of their size. Your living room should have a lot of space, and a yard is necessary too.

How to Exercise your Dog Indoors 

Take advantage of the stairs

Beagle Dog Running Down the Stairs

Ever thought of your stairs as a good exercise platform? You should consider it.

Steps help energetic dogs release pent-up energy, and also offer extra challenges.

The best way to make this work is to combine it with a game of indoor fetch. 

Throw the dog’s favorite toy to the bottom (or top) of the stairs and have it retrieve the toy, then recall your pooch.

Do this till it gets tired. This exercise works more for medium and large adults.

Giant dogs can also enjoy exercising on the stairs, but not as much as the medium and large ones. It is not recommended for puppies, seniors, or toy breeds.

Set obstacle courses

Obstacle courses can work for every dog’s size and age, making it a popular game. Obstacle courses challenge dogs both physically and mentally.

While this game seems like outdoor activity, it can be repurposed for indoor fun.

Purchase a dog treadmill

Dog Treadmill

A dog treadmill is an equipment you should have if you want to exercise your dog indoors. It comes in different sizes, and you should find the one that suits the dog.

The benefits of treadmill for dogs are enormous — your dog can get a full-body workout without the impact.

Getting a dog on a treadmill requires some degree of patience, especially if your dog is reticent. 

Ensure that you get the best dog treadmills that don’t make noises that may scare the dog. Once this is ticked off, get your dog accustomed to watching the treadmill run.

The next step would be to place the dog on the treadmill while encouraging it with a treat.

Start slowly and gauge your dog’s reaction. Once it gets comfortable, you can increase the speed.

Tug of war can work (kind of)

A tug of war game is easy to set up. You just need a rope, and voilà, you’re ready to play.

The ease of this game makes it a popular outdoor and indoor game. However, there are some risks associated with playing tug of war inside your home. 

Tug of war can make your dog aggressive if you haven’t established that trust with it.

The fierce nature of the game can also lead to object breaking if you aren’t careful enough. Keep these in mind before engaging in this game.

Purchase different toys

Beagle Dog Fetching Toy Indoors

There is a variety of toys you can get for your dogs, and similar to the treadmill, there are toys for each dog’s size and age.

The toys include interactive toys, chew toys, and a host of others. 

Play games

We’ve already mentioned some games you can play with your dog indoors, but there are more.

You can engage your dog in puzzles, hide and seek, tag, or find the treats. 


Hopefully, you found this guide on how to exercise your dog indoors helpful.

As long as you have the space and necessary tools, you’re not limited to only outdoor exercises with your pup.

Your living room can turn into a gymnasium, a tug of war battleground, and an agility course.

What you need is creativity, and your dog will not wound up bored as there would be enough activities for it.

Also See:
Dog Stretching Exercises: 6 Simple Ways To Stretch Your Dog

Authored By

Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a dog behaviorist and professional dog trainer. With more than eight years of hands-on experience in the field, Robert relishes sharing his vast knowledge to help prospective pet parents choose the right dog breeds that suit their lifestyle and provide dog owners with the information they need to ensure they raise a well-behaved canine companion. ...