Tuesday, July 23, 2013

No Yard? 5 Ways to Still Exercise Your Dog

By Tamara McRill

While a big backyard can be wonderful for excising our dogs, a lot of pet owners just don't have that luxury. That's something I learned when we downsized from two lots of running space to a teeny tiny yard.

Luckily, I was able to find several solutions that worked for us, as well as some that would also work for any pet owner who has more pent-up dog energy than grass square footage.

1. Leash Up and Head Out

It might be an obvious solution, but taking your dog to a place where they can exercise certainly solves the problem. If you don’t have access to a dog park or are unable to walk your dog for long distances, then consider a friend's yard. We make use of a neighbor's fenced-in backyard on occasion, so my Wuppy can get in some of the free running he's used to.

2. Hire Help

Sometimes time is an added problem, along with little yard space. If you ever run into a situation where you just get too busy to take your dog out to walk or play, then consider hiring a dog walker or taking them to a doggie daycare. That way, your dog gets all the exercise they need and deserve, and you don't have to feel guilty about being so busy. Plus, you get to spend your spare time snuggling with your pet!

3. Work With What You Have

If you have a small patch of yard, that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't anything for your dog to do. Depending on your pet's capabilities and health, you may be able to turn low borders and fences into super fun things to jump. The same goes for anything they can slink under or weave through.

I have one jumper and one slinker, and it's amazing how much fun they can have in such a small space. If you don’t have anything interesting in your yard for your pet to navigate, consider getting a dog tunnel for them to play in or installing something for them to jump.

4. Indoor Arenas

Yes, I let my dogs careen through my house – on rainy days. I try to always signal that it's playtime by rolling a ball. (Throwing would cause too much damage!) This can be great if you have really long hallways or rooms that are open to one another, so they can really stretch their legs. Just be sure they won't be running through any slick surfaces, where they could slide and hurt themselves.

Another great indoor option: if you have a garage that is fairly open, your pet can run around in there. Just be sure there aren't any hazardous liquids on the cement. Also, check and make sure no stray nails or sharp tools are present. Our garage is definitely a working garage, so we keep Wuppy and Dusty out of it at all times.

Hunting down CANIDAE dog treats always makes for a fun game. Plus, what a great reward! If your dog is super smart and always watching everything you do, keep them out of the room while you hide some treats. Call them back and let the treat sleuthing begin. For other active ways to exercise inside, check out Indoor Games to Play with Pets.

5. Train Away

Sometimes it's not so much physical energy that our woofers need to expend as it is mental energy. Doing frequent training, even if it's just to keep up their skills, can help your pet burn through any boredom they may have at being yard poor. You get a happy dog and get to be a happy pet owner – win, win!

How do you make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise?

Top photo by KenshinSorrow
Bottom photo by Christina Spicuzza 

Read more articles by Tamara McRill


  1. We have been having plenty of indoor playtime with our heat wave this summer. I read somewhere that one on one time is also mentally stimulating so I have been trying to spend some extra time with each one.

  2. these are great ideas. We don't have a yard but we have a community courtyard and if Dakota is in the mood we will throw a ball. I chase him around indoors.
    If our financial situation improves I am seriously considering hiring a dog walker. Dakota HATES walking but I think he just does this with my husband and I because he knows we will give in.


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