3 ways to keep your dog fit (that aren’t going for a walk)

You don’t need us to tell you the benefits of trying to keep your dog fit. A well-exercised pup is a tired pup. And tired pups are far less likely to get bored, dig holes in your flower beds, bark at the wall, chew skirting boards, or rip your favourite cushions to shreds.

Not to mention the health benefits. Exercise prevents your dog from becoming overweight, can decrease anxiety-related behaviours, and work wonders for your bond.

But as pawrents, we have lives outside of our dogs (some of the time, at least). And taking a two-hour amble along the beach or in the local park isn’t always possible. Sometimes we only have a free twenty minutes before the school run. Or have to tire out our pups inside the house between Zoom meetings. Other times we just want to switch up the monotonous routine of laps around the block.

With this in mind, we’ve put together 3 quick and easy ways to give your pooch a workout that don’t involve taking them on a walk.


If getting out of the house isn’t a problem for you, swimming can be a great way to top up your pup’s cardio. It’s a brilliant option if they don’t do well on the lead or around other dogs.

The resistance of moving around in the water causes your dog to work a lot harder than they would on land. One minute of swimming is the equivalent to four minutes of running. Talk about a time-saver.

The benefits of swimming for your pooch include improved muscle strength and tone. This makes it the perfect complement to land-based activities such as walking, running, or agility. Stronger muscles and bones will significantly reduce your pup’s risk of injury during higher-impact exercise. Swimming also improves their cardiovascular and respiratory systems, decreases inflammation, increases metabolism, and improves circulation. Still not convinced?

If you’ve got an older or overweight dog, or your pooch is recovering from an injury, swimming is low-impact and adds no extra stress to their joints and tendons. Plus, the freedom of being off the lead and trying something new can be excellent for their mental health. And just think about their happy, goofy faces when they’re doing it. Priceless!

It’s true that some dogs have a greater affinity for swimming. But that doesn’t mean your pup can’t learn to love it over time. If they seem hesitant at first, show patience and reassurance while they make friends with the water. You can start in a small paddling pool with a few inches of water. Or take a stroll along the shoreline encouraging them to dip their feet in. As you go, be sure to offer treats, praise, or affection whenever they show progress.

Before you know it, they’ll be a natural!

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Playing fetch

Do you ever spend a whole day at home and feel yourself going stir crazy staring at the same four walls? Your pup will be no different. And this makes fetch a brilliant way to sneak some additional exercise into their day. Perfect for breaking up the monotony of a day spent at home, it’s also extremely flexible and convenient for you. You don’t even have to leave the house. And you can easily slot a quick game into those five minutes between meetings.

Playing fetch challenges their focus and concentration. It expends mental energy that would otherwise be spent causing mayhem around your house. It also helps relieve anxiety. The continuous exercise and mental stimulation steals their attention away from any worries or concerns. If you’ve got a doggo with separation anxiety, a game of fetch can be great at calming them down whenever you’re about to leave. 

It’s also a wonderful opportunity to bond with your dog and enjoy each other’s company. These moments of quality time are great for building trust and confidence that will trickle over into other aspects of their behaviour. 

As an extra tip: if you’re looking to improve the cardiovascular benefits of fetch even more, and your pup has strong joints, you can take the game to the stairs. Unless they’re the clumsy type. You don’t want them cartwheeling down the stairs, right?

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Nose work

A dog’s sense of smell is one of their greatest gifts. And embracing this with some nose work can be a fabulous way to challenge them and tire them out for a bit.

Using their sense of smell to locate a treat or toy, nose work gives your dog a sense of purpose. It allows them to tap into their natural instincts and can be a wonderful distraction from the curtains that are begging to be destroyed. 

The premise is fairly self-explanatory. Grab your pup’s favourite small toy or treat. Make sure they see you’ve got it, and have them sit and stay while you hide it just out of sight. It’s then up to them to go and “find it”. To make this a fun, positive experience, praise your pooch when they’re close or help them find it if they’re having trouble. Then heap on the praise again once they’ve found it. 

After a while, they’ll catch on to what “find it” means. And from here, you can repeat, hiding the treat in slightly harder places each time.

Hiding multiple treats all around your home can help you increase the cardiovascular benefits of the activity. A true win-win, this can also free up your focus for 20 minutes to complete that chore or tackle that urgent email.

Variety is the spice of life

Many pawrents out there have busy schedules that make long, relaxing dog walks difficult to fit in. The good news is that your pooch will actually crave variety from their routine. While physical exercise helps tire them out, so does mental stimulation. And the perfect regime will combine the best of both worlds. 

So depending on your free time, try mixing up the activities to keep your dog fit. While an hour-long walk might be manageable three days of the week, others might include a quick evening swim, or be spent playing energetic games and training at home. They’ll be loving it no matter what.

The perfect accompaniment to a varied, high-energy exercise routine are delicious, nutritious kibbles. Swagwags’ recipes are fully transparent, and packed full of healthy ingredients and responsibly sourced protein. To help keep your pooch happy and healthy, order your pup’s new favourite meal today

If you’re concerned about reactions in your dog, we can also help. Our 100% bespoke sensitivity tests will help keep your pup on top form and raring to go.