Keeping Your Dog Fit And Happy Indoors

Three alert dogs, a cocker spaniel and 2 border collies, sitting on and behind a pile of large rubber dog toys and cushions

Pet food brand Natural Instinct has teamed up with Flexipaw Fitness to provide home workouts for dogs!

  • 30% of UK households own a dog, with numbers rising since lockdown began
  • Online searches for “dog exercise” has seen an 809% increase in recent weeks

Canine fitness expert Alison Pearce, founder of Flexipaw Fitness, is leading the UK’s pet owners and their dogs in easy-to-follow, effective, free workouts that can be streamed to watch any time via your phone or laptop.

With many people still staying at home to shield loved ones, it’s never been more important to ensure that our dogs are exercising properly and utilising their muscles.

And the importance of dogs’ mental health cannot be underestimated. Their usual mentally stimulating behaviours such as running, digging, sniffing, playing and foraging are in short supply, so it’s essential to offer enrichment at home.

Dog trainer kneeling, petting collie type dog while talking to camera

With this in mind, Alison has shared a tutorial on mind games that owners can play with their furry companions, with great ideas like the Snuffle Box and even a Magic Trick.

Exercises that are easy to do at home

Rachel Kirby at Natural Instinct commented, “We understand that canine fitness, as well as diet, can be a worry with reduced time outdoors.

“We’re delighted to team up with Flexipaw Fitness to keep the nation’s dog’s fitness levels up, one paw at a time!

“Alison’s simple, effective and free-of-charge exercises can be easily completed at home.

“It’s important to try to manage our dogs’ physical and mental health. Their routine has changed, too. Not getting the same level of exercise may result in

  • hyperactivity
  • muscle loss
  • weight gain
  • with some dogs, compulsive or destructive behaviour.

“Exercises at home will help to give your dog a routine, maintain their weight and build muscle strength ready for when we can go back out on long walks.

“Spending quality time with your beloved pet in this way will build on your already strong bond. They will thrive on the one-t0-one interaction.”

To view Natural Instinct’s Canine Fitness at Home Series, simply visit the brand’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile the pet experts at Webbox have also listed their top tips on how to exercise your dog at home…

Set up an improvised obstacle course

Long haired small dog trotting happily through a blue nylon and wire tunnel

Use an old play tunnel, or improvise! Pic: Shutterstock

Setting up an obstacle course for your dog is a great way to get them active and stimulate their mind. Use objects such as a broom to make jumps, and blankets over chairs to make a tunnel.

Make a mini tyre jump by securing a hula hoop between two chairs. You could also make a “weave” obstacle by placing shoes or boots on the floor.

First teach your dog each element of the obstacle course using healthy treats to guide them. Gradually remove the treats, but use the same hand gestures to get your dog to perform the obstacle course on their own.

Treats hide and seek

Take a variety of healthy dog treats and hide them around the house, making some easy to find and some more challenging. Dogs will not only tire themselves out looking for the treats, but it will also give them mental stimulation.

Treat-dispensing toys are a great way to get your dog to be more active and keep their mind occupied. Puzzle bowls also get your dog’s mind going while encouraging slower eating, which is good for their digestive system.

Tug of war

There are so many rope toys available that it’s no surprise tug of war is extremely popular with dogs and humans alike.

Before engaging in a healthy game of tug of war, it’s important to note that it will bring out the predator in your dog and should only be played if you understand their power and instincts.

Indoor Fetch!

Long legged dog with blue eyes lies on his back, looking at camera, front paw over his nose, comical expression

Oops, I lost the ball… Pic: Shutterstock

A classic game of fetch can be played indoors and is a great way to ensure your playful dog is getting the exercise it needs. Plus the dog does all the running, so you don’t have to!

Playing fetch is a great way to connect with your dog and get its mind and muscles working, as it’s a chance for them to use their natural hunting instincts.

Take your pooch along for your daily exercise

If you are able to enjoy daily exercise, make sure to take your dog along while sticking to Government guidelines. Walking your dog is obviously great. Running is also an excellent way to get both you and your dog active.

If your dog hasn’t been running before, ensure you take the time to train them – it takes a lot of dedication from both owner and dog to make it work.

Camille Ashforth, senior brand manager at Webbox, says, “Making sure your dog has enough exercise is important to ensure they don’t become bored and start misbehaving. If you’re unsure about any of the above exercises, seek expert advice from a vet or behaviourist.”

For more tips visit the Webbox blog.

Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!