How to stimulate a “lazy” pet and exercise your dog in different ways
Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
7th Jun 2022
4 mins read
Some dogs need less exercise than others, but all dogs need daily walks and exercise. Exercising your dog is key to keeping them happy and healthy. It helps to keep them fit and prevents obesity, but it also prevents boredom and problem behaviours. All dogs should have a minimum of an hour’s exercise everyday, ideally in two walks. But you can supplement walks with other games and activities like fetch, tug, scent games, hide and seek, puzzle toys, swimming, or dog sports to help provide exer
There’s no such thing as a “lazy dog breed”, but there are some dogs that need less exercise than others either because of their age, their health, or what they were bred for.
Walking your dog doesn’t just keep your dog happy and healthy, it’s a great way for you to keep active and healthy too.
How to exercise a dog indoors
Although walking your dog is the ideal way to keep your dog physically and mentally fit to prevent ill health and bad behaviour, there are other ways to exercise your dog and provide enrichment.
A few ideas on how to exercise a dog indoors include:
- Games of fetch
- Playing tug of war
- Play hide and seek (You hide and call your dog, then they have to find you.)
- Hide their dinner so they have to hunt for it.
- Play scent games, sniffing out treats or toys.
- Give them puzzle toys to play with.
- Use a snuffle mat to feed them.
- Make snuffle boxes and other DIY puzzles to make them work for meals.
- Play with a flirt pole (It’s a bit like a cat wand.)
- Set up an indoor obstacle course.
- Do plenty of training. (It improve your dog’s obedience and gives them a mental and physical workout!)
Do dogs have different exercise needs as they age?
As your dog ages, the amount of exercise they need changes and the enrichment they enjoy most could change. You should adapt your dog's exercise and games to suit their age, ability, and what they enjoy doing most.
How much exercise do puppies need?
Although puppies are very active and full of energy, they don’t actually need a lot of exercise or walks. Puppies are so active exploring your house, and playing so often, they don’t need much additional exercise.
You shouldn’t walk your puppy outside until they’ve had all their vaccinations. You should also limit their walks to a few very short walks a day. This is to protect their health, because strenuous exercise can put stress on their growing bones and joints and cause injuries and developmental problems.
It’s also a good idea to prevent your puppy from jumping up and down from things like the sofa and the car, which is also to prevent injury to their immature joints.
At this age, walks aren’t important for exercise, they are to help socialise your puppy. The focus of your little walks should be exposing your puppy to the environment (cars, bikes, grass, shops, people, gates, etc), so these things don’t seem new and scary later in life.
How much exercise do old dogs need?
As dogs get older, their exercise needs change. Older dogs aren’t as strong or have as much stamina as young dogs. They’re often affected by age-related conditions like arthritis too, so their exercise needs change according to their ability.
Adapt exercise for your dog according to their health
Not all dogs are able to go out for miles and miles of walks every day. Common conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and heart and lung conditions can limit how mobile your dog is and how much exercise they can safely do.
Remember, all exercises you provide your dog must be adapted to suit their health and physical ability. Your vet will be able to advise you on what exercise is suitable for your dog, and how much they should be doing.
Exercise for dogs with arthritis
The key of exercise for dogs with arthritis is keeping it low-impact so it’s gentle on their joints. Avoid going too fast, or walking on tough terrain like steep hills.
- Take it slow, go for sniffy strolls instead of long walks.
- Keep walks gentle, but vary the terrain and vary the places you go to provide a challenge and interest without being too tough on joints.
- Try supporting your dog with aharness and/or doggy rampsto help them in and out of cars and drive to their favourite locations.
- Consider swimmingbecause this is low-impact on their joints.
- Consider trying hydrotherapy.(But remember to discus with your vet if it is suitable first!)
- Don’tplay fetch or dog sports and absolutely no ball throwing. The sharp turns, fast stops, and sprints put tons of stress on your dog’s aching joints and can cause injury.
- Avoid agility: Again, sharp turns, jumps, and sprinting can injure your dog’s joints.
Exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia
Exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia is important because it can help to strengthen the muscles and tissues which stabilise the hip joint. However, this must be controlled to avoid anything high-impact which could hurt your dog’s hip.
- Take them forfrequent, short walks. Regularly getting up and about can stop them from getting stiff.
- Take them swimmingfor a full body workout that isn't tough on their joints.
- Try hydrotherapy. (But check with your vet that it’s suitable.)
- Offer scent games, hunting for food, hide and seek, and otheractive gamesto get your dog exercising more often around the house.
Usually, owners have to pay for complementary treatments like hydrotherapy out of their own pocket. But if your dog is suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia and your vet suggests hydrotherapy,Napo
can help to pay for their treatment. Just as long as it's been recommended by a vet to treat their condition.
The Pet Perspective25 mins listen
Podcast #16: Regression and rebellion: what to expect when your dog hits the terrible teens, with Antonella Marsicano
Expert Q&A10 mins read
Top tips on how to train a puppy from a clinical animal behaviourist
Ask an expert10 mins read