Everyone starts off in dog ownership hoping to meet their dog’s needs for exercise, but sometimes life gets in the way. Perhaps you’re recovering from surgery or an injury, perhaps you have new life commitments you simply can’t avoid, or perhaps your dog needs more exercise than you thought that it would. Whatever the case may be, you can still do right by your dog and get them the exercise they need to be healthy without necessarily spending the time walking them. Here are a few ways to help your dog get the activity that they need while moving around as little as possible yourself.

Dog Treadmills

When you have a high-energy dog that simply needs to move, dog treadmills are a great solution. You do need to supervise a dog on a treadmill, but you do not need to move at all. Many machines are designed so that you simply hook the dog up and start the machine. They have lures to motivate the dogs who need it. But you may be surprised that many dogs do not actually need the lure. They want to run.

Use Your Stairs

For those who are stuck indoors and can’t walk their dog for that reason, the stairs in your home are a blessing. Stairs require more effort to traverse, so making your dog run up and down them can exhaust them faster. You can play fetch with your dog by throwing the ball up or down the stairs and having them retrieve it. Or you can actually train your dog to run the stairs without a toy.

Automatic Fetch Machines

Fetch is always a great substitute for a walk, but what if you have the time or energy to throw the ball? Devices meant for baseball practice, and specialized fetch machines can both throw the ball for you. You can even teach smart dogs to reload the ball. If you have a large backyard, it may be possible to leave your dog unsupervised with the machine for short periods of time. Just be careful not to leave for too long, as some dogs will not stop fetching even when exhausted and may hurt themselves. We recommend that you stay at least within earshot.

Stop by a Pool Or Somewhere New

Remember when your dog was young, and novelty always excited them? Did they get the zoomies over their first squeak toy, their first interaction with the mailman, and their first snow? It didn’t take much to get their exercise in back then. If your dog has never been in a pool or lake, you may be able to recreate that experience. Your dog will explore and swim all on their own. If there are new parks or doggie daycares in the area, they can do the trick too.


Treat toys can help motivate your dog to run on its own. When your goal is physical exercise specifically, you should look for the treat dispensers that roll or encourage your dog to move around a lot. Puzzle toys are great for stimulating your dog’s mind, but not their body as much.