Whether you live with a chronic condition that causes fatigue as I do or you are exhausted after a busy day at work, your dog still needs exercise. Many people think exercise the dog = walk the dog. Well when you’re exhausted and walking the dog means making your tired brain and body move off the couch, yea don’t know about you but not likely.
I spend a lot of my time on the couch, sitting in a chair or leaning against a wall, tree or fence. And have come up with lots of ways to exercise my dogs from those stations. Now this doesn’t mean I don’t also get my dogs out in the world, I do. I go for a walk with them nearly every day. But for many dogs (mine included) that isn’t enough. And when I have days where I can’t get out, these types of things are my go-to.
So here we go: 10 Ways to exercise your dog when you’re exhausted!
- Hide and seek
Oh how I love hide and seek and all of its near endless variations!
Version 1: If my husband is home or my nieces and nephews are visiting hide and seek means I sit on the couch, they hide. They call the dog, dog finds them. I call the dog back to me, the hider hides in a new spot. Over and over. Until dog is bright happy eyes and panting exhausted. If the hider gets creative there are lots of ways they can hide even in a small area. Some favorites are in the bathtub, behind an open door, on the bed, in the closet, and hidden in plain sight by quietly standing up against a wall in a dark room. Zora especially Loves loves loves this game. We use praise, treats, and petting to reward her, and practice her staying with the person until the other person calls her, not just racing back and forth. This waiting until called gives the hider a chance to really hide.
Version 2: if your dog has a favorite toy, instead of hiding a person you can hide their toy. If your able to get off the couch, hide the toy in various places in your house and send the dog to find them. Practice your dog doing a sit or down stay while you hide the toy and finding it when you cue “Find It.” If you can’t get off the couch, hide them in various spots on the couch. Under different cushions and such.
Version 3: the good old shell game using treats. Hide a treat under one hand, dog has to indicate which hand has the treat. Or under a blanket. Or couch cushion. Or if they’re handy under actual cups.
2. Kibble toss
A fun easy game that can be played at meal times if you feed your dog dry dog food. Or at other times using a couple of treats.
Version 1: Call the dog to,you praise them then throw a piece of kibble across the room. After dog chases and eats the treat or kibble you tossed, call them back to you and repeat. Dog races back and forth across the room and gets tired
Version 2: add some obedience into the game. Ask dog to sit or down then stay as you toss the kibble. Then release the dog to go get it. Or ask the dog to stay, toss the kibble then ask the dog to do another behavior (sit, down, touch, come) before releasing them to go get the food.
3. Fetch with a toy
Zora bringing me a stick
Simple. Take a toy your dog likes and play fetch in the house or outside leaning against the fence. Zora prefers super bouncy chuck it balls for this game. They fly off the walls making for a fun erratic game of fetch. Though be careful you don’t take the tv out if your a bad thrower as I am. Practice your dog bringing the toy all the way back to you and dropping it in your hand or on your lap so you don’t have to bend your aching body down fighting gravity to pick the toy up. If you and your dog are up for it, add in some obedience. Or multiple toys. Teach your dog to sit or down stay and wait for you to cue ‘Get it’ once you’ve thrown the toy. Or teach your dog to get the toy you point to, even if you’ve thrown 2 or more, in the order you point to the toy.
If you have the hand and arm strength and a bit of upper body energy play tug from your spot on the couch. Practicing your drop it and grab it cues.
One of the silly tricks they learned. Zora standing as a ‘bridge’ with 2 feet on a box and 2 feet on her bed. Tom lying beside her on the floor
My dogs and I do so many stupid tricks from the couch. Get creative, make shit up. Let’s see we play E.T phone home (nose touch to the tip of my finger), we play back up, we play crawl, and lots of targeting games. They play running from place to place in the house, on your bed, now on the couch, now back to your bed, now in the kitchen, now on the rug! They practice jumping over my legs. And crawling under my arms. We place shark avoidance (I take the fish toy and sing the JAWS theme, the dogs practice abandoning ship! aka jumping off the couch and “saving” me from the shark aka taking the toy and shaking it.) And I never have to move. Tossing treats or toys to reward.
6. Learning toys by name
Where’s your fish? No that’s not the fish, find the fish. Yay! That’s the fish! Now how about your ball? Yay! Now blue ball, where is blue ball? Close, that’s red ball.
and so on. My dogs love that game too. And again I never leave the couch.
7. Scatter kibble
An easy one. Take your dog’s meal and toss it on the floor. Either in the house or in the back yard. Let the dog snuffle around finding their dinner kibble by kibble as you rest.
8. Puzzle toys
Make or invest in some puzzle toys. Some that involve you too and some that your dog can play alone. There are so many different ones on the market now, it’s awesome. Lots of styles to choose from. Get some variety, so you and your dog have different ways to solve the puzzles.
If you’re making puzzle toys cardboard boxes can be your friend (hide treats in different boxes, or within within within boxes or wrapped in paper bags, etc). As can pvc (drill some holes in a large diameter pvc tube, put some treats in and cap the ends, Dog bangs it around to get the treats to fall out. Or get some lengths of PVC and different connectors, hide a treat in the maze of twist and turns, dog has to pull the pieces apart at the connectors to find the treat.). And empty soda bottles. Or muffin tins (take a muffin tin, put some treats in the wells then cover each well with a tennis ball. Dog has to remove the balls to get the treats). Basically anything you can create that your dog has to think and puzzle through in order to get their food or toy out of it.
Other ways to make puzzles for your dog can be making mazes or labyrinths out of boxes or couch pillows.
9. Arm chair agility
Zora leaping over a jump while I stand still
Use actual agility obstacles or create them out of things like chairs and pillows. Use treats and toys to encourage your dog up and over while you stay stationary. Note of caution if your dog is not an experienced agility dog, always use a spotter especially with the higher obstacles like the dog walk and teeter totter. And be sure if doing any jumping your dog is on safe surfaces like grass or carpet not concrete or hard wood floors
10. Arm chair obedience
Practice your dog’s response to cues. Try just verbal cues such as saying ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stay’, etc. And just hand signals. Practices puppy push ups: sit, down, sit, down, down, down, sit. Add in the cue to stand. Or stay. Or come. Or fetch. Or touch. Mix it up. Practice your dog responding to the cue you give without anticipating what you’re going to ask them to do.
Remember when doing these things with your dog, the goal is fun, happy and tired. So smile, laugh, and enjoy your time with your dog. Help your dog engage both their brain and their body. Playing these games can be super fun with your dog and low energy expenditure for you. A tired happy dog is so nice to live with.
Tom sleeping on the floor, Zora sleeping on her dog bed. Tired, happy dogs.