9 Ingenious Ways to Exercise Your Dog If You Live in An Apartment

February 2, 2023 / Behavior / By: Krystine Therriault

A bored dog stuck indoor in an apartment

Dog lovers think about their pets a lot and consider them a part of the family. Sometimes, we worry that our dogs are not getting enough exercise.

If you live somewhere without a yard, like an apartment (high-rise or otherwise), follow these tips to make sure your dog gets panting daily. Getting a dog’s exercise in is crucial for most breeds when living in small spaces.

1. Use a Harness and Long-Line

Exercise dogs when living in small places

One way to allow a dog to get some running in safely in urban areas is to use a dog harness and a long line.

This way, if you have a shared yard or an open space close by you can give your dog more room to run and wander without giving up control.

If other people or dogs come by, you can always bring the long-line in a little if you need to. Just make sure to pick up after your dog wherever you go and be conscious of the area you are in.

This works best where there aren’t too many people and other animals in the area that might be overwhelming for your dog.

2. Jogging (After They are 1 Year Old)

A retriever jogging with female owner in the city

Regular exercise is not just fun for your dog, it's also necessary to ensure his good health.

Jogging can be a great way for you and your dog to get more exercise, especially if you live in a small space. Jogging gets your heart rate up, can help adult dogs manage their weight, and is a great bonding exercise.

However, pet owners need to be careful not to go jogging with their puppies until they are at least a year or two old.

High impact running or jogging on cement can damage a puppy’s growing joints. They should be strong and grown before they jog outside on a leash.

Regular run and play (preferably on grass or less rough surfaces) is okay for puppies, of course.

3. Find a Fenced-In Place

fenced-in dog parks in the area

Just because you don’t have a fenced-in yard does not necessarily mean that you can't find a place you and your dog can't walk to for some off-leash exercise.

Sometimes making sure your dog is getting the exercise and stimulation they need might require some creativity.

If your dog is well-socialized you can see if there are fenced-in dog parks in the area (although you might need to be wary of other people’s dogs until you get to know them), you can find an empty baseball field, or even see if you can visit a friend with friendly dogs and a yard.

4.  Train Your Dog

A Siberian Husky Doing a Hi Five with Owner

Training your dog is a good way to get them stimulated and get them to exercise in a small space. You can teach your dog to sit, stay, lay down, roll over, and more.

Depending on your dog breed you can even teach them jobs like putting away their toys!

These tasks keep dogs happy and preoccupied, and makes it easier for you to maintain control of your dog. When they are outside on a leash or in a fenced-in area that you approved for exercise away from home, they should quickly respond to commands even with distractions.

5. Treadmill

Another solution to a dog who lives in an apartment or an overweight dog, can be a doggy treadmill.

These treadmills are specially built to be safe for dogs to use under the supervision of their owners, and minimize the chances of a dog getting hurt while on the treadmill (you shouldn’t run a dog on a human treadmill).  

You may also want to read our best rated dog treadmills post. 

Dog treadmills can be useful but it may take a bit of training and positive reinforcement for your dog to get comfortable using one.

Even with a treadmill, your dog should still be taken outside for walks daily.

Treadmills are great for rainy or extremely hot days when it can be harder for some breeds to exercise outside without overheating.

6. Play Dates, Dog Daycare

Dogs running and playing in a doggy day care

If you live in a house without a fenced-in yard or a small apartment, your dog may not get many opportunities to play with other dogs in a safe and open place.

Getting your dog out and around other dogs is important, so play dates and doggy daycare are a few options for doing this if they are available to you. It also gives you a chance to meet other dog owners.

If you have a small space or don’t feel safe letting your dog loose with other dogs around your home, you need to find ways to get out with your dog where you do feel safe and confident!

7. Kong Toys

The Kong Classic toy is another recommended way that owners keep their dogs preoccupied and mentally stimulated when they need to stay indoors or are in a small apartment.

Hiding food and healthy training treats inside a Kong toy and finding hiding spaces for the toy can keep a dog busy for hours.

Remember to change the food and hiding places to keep it interesting!

8. Create an Obstacle Course

A Dog Running Through an DIY Agility Course

One great way to make the best of the space that you do have is to create a dog obstacle or agility course. Depending on your dog’s breed, you might be able to do this inside.

Find things your dog can safely jump over, tunnels that they can go through, and more.

Use treats or clicker training to guide them through the course until they can do it on their own! Make it fun by changing it up and adding different routes and challenges.

9. Indoor Games

There are different types of indoor activities and toys like the iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher above that can be used to keep a dog preoccupied if they are stuck in an apartment during the day or if the weather is bad.

Some of the most common indoor doggy games include:

  • Test His Sniffer (get his to scent hidden treats throughout the apartment),
  • Hide & Seek,
  • New Tricks (hi-five anyone) 
  • The Muffin Tin Game (see video below),
  • Help Clean up (see video below),
  • Obstacle Course

See this short video of two dogs playing indoor games who are insanely beautiful and well behaved.

Final Word

When it comes to exercising your dog, make sure your methods are age, breed, size, and training appropriate if you want to get the best results. The key is to be consistent but keep things interesting, especially when it comes to smaller spaces.

Make sure you try to get out at about the same times every day for walks and include daily play. Most dogs should be running or playing to the point when they are panting every day, so you know they are working off enough energy.

Don’t forget that all dogs need walks and indoor solutions can’t be used all the time, especially for dogs living in small spaces.

Do you have any tips on how to stop your dog from getting bored? We urge you to share them in the comments below.


Krystine Therriault

Krystine Therriault is an accomplished writer. With a passion for all creatures cute and furry, Krystine's life has been touched by many beloved dogs over the years. She is also a loving mother of two boys and an avid yogi.

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