How to Exercise Your Dog When It’s Too Hot To Go Outside


Sometimes it’s just too dang hot out to do any serious exercising with your dog.

I normally recommend a walk every single day for most dogs, but I live in an area where it rarely gets above 85 degrees (that’s nothing for some of you!).

For unbearably hot days, I still try to walk at 5 a.m. or in the evening, but I know that’s not always possible and some pups really need a mid-day activity.

Here is my list of exercise ideas for dogs in the heat. These have worked well for the dogs I know, but it would be good to hear some other examples in the comments. Let us know where you live and how you exercise your dog when it’s too hot to go outside.

How to exercise your dog when it’s hot

Dog in park

1. Play with your dog in the water

This could mean filling up a plastic kid pool for your dog. These are usually less than $20 and you don’t even have to fill it up all the way. Or, it could mean playing with the hose or the sprinkler! Or maybe you have a walking route that goes along a pond or lake so your dog can swim or wade. We live by a dog beach in San Diego so we can head there for a swim but we still have to go early or in the evenings because the sand gets too hot for their paws!

(Also check out our waterproof collars.)

2. Go for a walk in an air-conditioned pet friendly store

If you have a backpack for your dog, strap that on him and head for a walk in a dog friendly store that has air conditioning like The Home Depot. You could actually walk around for quite a while in some of these stores and all the new sights and sounds will help tire your dog out mentally. Plus, if you have to drive there your dog will likely enjoy the “field trip.”

3. Play “Find It” with treats

Playing “Find It” helps tire my dogs out indoors. I have them lie down and stay while I hide treats around the room. Then I say “Find it” and they run around sniffing out all the food. (Just be careful so your dogs don’t fight. Might have to play this separately!)

For a more advanced version of the game you could hide treats in multiple rooms or hide them under empty boxes, egg containers, plastic cups or paper bags.

Find some yummy dog treats here!

4. Other indoor games

Some people play fetch with their dogs in the house, especially if they have a large basement or air conditioning. My dogs tend to get overly hyper when we play fetch so I avoid that game indoors. I do play tug of war with them for 5 to 10 minutes followed by working on some “calming” training like long downs/stays.

5. Work on the behaviors you’ve always wanted to reinforce

My dogs need a LOT of training, and I don’t always set aside the time to work with them. I’m more likely to give priority to exercise vs training.

Well, when it’s too hot to be outside, that’s an opportunity to work on training behaviors like lying down when the doorbell rings (practice with no one at the door), coming when called or staying for 2 minutes.

Maybe you have some tricks you’ve always wanted to teach like roll over or play dead or “spin.” Your dog’s not going to learn those himself, so might as well take a few minutes to train if you can’t be outside!

6. Puzzle toys

Stuff a few hollow toys with peanut butter or plain yogurt and stick them in the freezer for a yummy frozen treat for your dog. This keeps my dogs busy for at least 20 minutes.

Other ideas:

  • Send your dog to dog daycare for a day if it’s air-conditioned and a good fit for your dog’s personality.
  • Hose your dog first to get his body and coat wet and then head out for a short walk. He might be partway dry by the time you get home!
  • Head to an indoor training facility for a class if it’s air-conditioned (obedience training, agility, nosework, etc.)
  • Schedule a playdate with another dog owner who might have a better setup for the heat such as a large basement or a dog-friendly pool.
  • Train your dog to walk on a treadmill like our dogIDs pup, River!

What are some other ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Want more summer tips? Check out these blogs.

Stay Safe From Summer Injuries

How to Keep Your Dog Safe at the Lake

About Lindsay Stordahl

Lindsay Stordahl is a blogger for She has a black Lab mix named Ace and two naughty cats named Beamer and Scout. Lindsay owns a pet sitting business called Run That Mutt and also maintains the blog ... Add Lindsay to your Google+ circles at . You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @ThatMutt.

  1. if you plan on going to a hardware store, check with the store first. Many Home Depots no longer allow pet dogs. Some Lowe’s have started allowing pet dogs. Tractor Supply allows and sometimes even encourages bringing pets. I have heard that Bass Pro Shop may allow dogs, if you don’t have to go into a mall to get there.

  2. Wow! Such a great tips! 😀

    I think the idea of hiding treats is a great one and I will try it with my dog! But I am afraid that our cat might actually be the pirate in this treasure hunt!

    What I like to do to exercise my pets in the house, since we have a spacious home, I like to play chase with them 😀

    It’s basically like hide and seek, they learned the command “Go” to start looking for me and then when they find me I am running from them and when they catch me it’s hugs and kisses. And then when I rush back on the feet from the ground they start running and I let them hide. My dog usually hides behind the door or a kitchen counter (lol, he never learned another hiding spot and he is always maximally surprised when I find him). Then when I find my dog and cat its hugs and kisses again…
    They love these kinds of games and they make me happy to my bones

    Plus when it’s really hot to play outside, this is a great way to provide them some exercise indoors 🙂

  3. I have a prosthetic leg almost to my hip, which makes it hard to walk any distance. Any suggestions for exercising my 8yr old standard poodle would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Such helpful tips! We usually play in the water to give both our dog exercise and keep them cooler at the same time. You could go for a swim, run through the sprinkler or go to the beach to keep active and cool at the same time.

  5. We have a basement, so I throw small treats downstairs and they run down to retrieve them then come back upstairs for another one. They are panting within 5 minutes. Also works muscles that are rarely used. They love it and the house is air conditioned so they don’t get overheated.

  6. #1. I have all small hounds (dachshunds and a beagle). So. Scent work is very important for both exercise and mental stimulation. They love to exercise their nose abilities. I usually separate into 2 groups because the 2 seniors aren’t going to tract as fast as the younger generation. The older group I make it easy enough that they feel like they still “have it”. I have a foster that was neglected, currently she is doing games to build her confidence, less about exercise, and because she is under weight, higher calorie treats that have stronger scent, again it’s more about confidence building.
    #2. I made “self-propelled” tread mills using rollers and rubber belt mats, it allows the dogs to “make their own pace” with a gate more nature to them. The seniors get hydro-therapy (they are dachshunds, so they easily fit in the tub, using life jackets and extreme hold suction cups, they swim in place, and it isn’t hard on their back and joints.
    I live in Washington State heat is rarely an issue even in the Summer, however air-quality and extreme cold can be, plus senior dogs are easier to monitor in a controlled environment and the foster dog isn’t ready for full on outdoor activities.

    • Wet the dog with cool water before, possibly during (bring cold water in a proper cooling cup), and after the walk. Focus on getting their feet very cold and bellies. After a walk I also give my boy ice cubes. That along with standing him in the tub with just cold water running usually stops his panting completely.


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