When you can’t walk your dog!

There are loads of reasons you might not be able to take your dogs for a daily walk! Here are 5 fun things you can do to keep them happy and content in the mean time!

Maybe it’s too hot or too cold. Anything over 20c and even fit and healthy dogs will show signs of dehydration and overheating. Dogs can cope better in the cold, but anything less than 0c and care should also be taken.

Or, maybe they are post surgery, arthritic, or too young for lots of walks. Getting outside for a walk has far more benefits than simply tiring a dog though, such as socialisation and exploration, but in the short term here’s some fun ideas to keep you going!

1. A New Trick

Learning a new trick requires plenty of brain power. So why not get the treats out and start working on something new, or make a well known trick harder.

If you are teaching them something new, try to break down the trick into simple steps before putting them all together. Or you could make a well known trick harder by teaching them to hold it for longer, switch to hand signals, or by putting a series of tricks together into a routine.

2. Scent Training

Encouraging your dog to use their nose to find things can be exhausting, especially if they aren’t used to it.

Start simple and place some stinky treats on the ground for him to find. As he gets good at finding them, make it harder by either moving them further apart, or by hiding them better. You could also get him a snuffle mat or a sand pit to explore.

Why not download a scent training guide, or join a local club, for more ways to learn how to find things!

close up of a dogs nose touching the camera
Scent training can be exhausting, so its perfect when you can’t walk your dog

3. Puzzle Toys

There are loads of choices available to buy online, or you could make your own. Different toys test different skills so pick one that suits your dog. Or you could just start by hiding a treat in the folds of some balled up socks or a box full of sand.

If you are buying a new toy, there are various difficulty levels available. So make sure to choose one that suits your dogs problem solving skill level. 

4. Go for a swim!

If it’s warm enough, why not take your dog to the beach or a dog friendly swimming pool. Dogs love to swim, and it’s a great way to get them some extra exercise. It might also suit an older dog or one with restricted movement – just be sure to check with your vet first.

Always keep an eye on your dog when they are in the water. It’s surprising how exhausting swimming is for a dog, so if your dog isn’t used to it, don’t let them get too tired. Also make sure its safe if swimming in open water or rivers etc.

5. Play Games

Tug, fetch, or hide and seek are classic games that dogs love, and they can get your dog running and jumping. Just be sure to supervise your dog while playing, and don’t let him get too rough.

Be careful though, hide and seek is not suitable for dogs with separation anxiety. And repetitive fetch games might not suit all dogs, so please check with your vet first.

picture of a pug type dog tugging on a rope toy
Playing tug is a great way to entertain your dog when you can’t walk your dog

Back to walks!

These are just a few ideas for exercising your dog without taking him for a walk. With a little creativity, you can find plenty of ways to tire your dog out and keep him happy and healthy. But, don’t forget to go back to daily walks as soon as you can!

Outdoor exercise that includes exploration and socialisation can be really beneficial for your dogs mental health. It can relieve mild depression, boost mental energy levels, relieve lethargy, and reduce overall anxiety.

Did you also know, that is can also help you cope better in moments of crisis? According to Dr Sten Ekberg, physical movement activates the frontal lobe of the brain which turns off reactive, stress, anxiety and impulse.

Dogs are no different! This means that when things go wrong they’ll be much better able to cope with it because they’ll be relying on the reasoning part of the brain, rather than making snappy decisions.

How do you get by when you can’t get out?

Are you struggling with your dogs behaviour?

Private Dog Behaviour Consultations are currently available in the Dundee area and beyond, or via zoom. If you are looking for help solving your dogs behaviour and training problems, then please get in touch!


I have more than 15 years experience solving all kinds of canine behaviour problems, at home and in rescue. A bad experience with a old fashioned dog trainer inspired me to learn more about dog behaviour, and it is because of him, that I wall never use harsh methods when training and rehabilitating dogs.

I work privately with clients in Dundee and the surrounding area with dogs of all ages, breeds and issues including anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity.

In 2009 I was proud to publish a book about dog behaviour and training. How to be the Perfect Pack Leader (by Caroline Jenkins) remains popular today and a follow up is expected very shortly.

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