How to Entertain and Exercise Your Dog Outside Home? – 16 Exercises

2 perros golden retriever jugando con un hueso de tela

Translated by Nick R

We normally think more about how to distract our dog inside the house since we’re not always there and we need him to have a good source of distraction to avoid bad behaviors.

But haven’t you thought that activities outside the house are just as important? Well, here I’ll show you 16 ways to exercise and distract your dog outside home.

Why do dogs need to be distracted and exercised? 

A dog’s physical and mental health is very much involved and determined by what their lifestyle is like and that includes basic issues like exercise, distractions, etc.

Factors such as his weight, his behavior both physically and mentally, his relationship with you, and the development of his skills all benefit from adding exercise and moments of distraction into his daily routine.

Healthy weight 

Clearly, having an exercise routine will help your dog maintain a healthy weight in accordance with his age and life stage.

Exercise is necessary to prevent mainly overweight and obesity, which can lead to other types of diseases that often involve the heart and joints.

Mental and physical behavior in dogs 

When a dog starts to adopt certain behavior it is because there is an emotional or mental change that leads him to act that way. That is why distraction activities such as playing with other dogs will help the canine relate and socialize in order to develop good behavior.

Secondly, outdoor activities will allow the dog to unload all his energy, as he needs to have fun, explore and enjoy both the company and the environment itself.

And what if these practices are done only once in a while?

On an emotional level, the dog will begin to have boredom that will evolve into stress and anxiety and go on to something more serious like depression. These emotional states lead the dog to act with improper behaviors.

For example, biting things to the point of destroying them, being aggressive with other dogs as well as with people, having a high level of hyperactivity that will make it bark excessively, start digging desperately, among other behaviors.

But that is not all, apart from acting like this, at a physical level the dog will show certain symptoms related to stress, anxiety or depression. He may have significant hair loss, constant panting, act lethargic, develop muscle stiffness, etc.

Human-dog relationship 

Training and playtime are part of the distraction and physical activity and are ways to further strengthen the emotional bond you have with your furry friend, according to animal behaviorist Dr. Karen London.

Spending time together, sharing, and interacting are excellent ways to create happy moments for you and your dog. This will strengthen the relationship as the dog feels liberated and content.

Improving the dog’s physical abilities 

When training becomes a constant part of the physical activities for the canine, as he practices the same thing several times he will improve his physical skills. Depending on the training, the dog will be more agile, will have better physical resistance or his sense of smell will be much more efficient.

To learn more about how positive activities outside the house can be, I invite you to read the 13 benefits of going for a walk with your dog.

16 ways to exercise and distract your dog outside the home 

There are different types of sports and activities that can help dogs get all their energy out, but above all, they can enjoy this time alone or with their owner.

Note: Keep in mind that some breeds are already predisposed to suffer from diseases related to joints and bones such as dysplasia, and heart and respiratory problems.

This is why you should consult your veterinarian to regulate the types of exercises your dog can do to avoid long-term damage to your furry friend due to too much effort or improper movements.

Here I show you some activities.

Classic walking 

This is one of the most basic and indispensable exercises for all breeds.

It can be determined based on the physical health of the canine. They can vary both intensity and distance and you can combine it with changes of terrain and increases in the level of the walk to a gentle or an intense trot.


The objective of fetching is simpler. It involves throwing an object such as a ball, frisbee, or favorite toy for the canine to retrieve.

However, this activity can be used on land or in water to make it more difficult to achieve the goal. This exercise is suitable for all canines.

Pursuit race 

This exercise is basically about you throwing your dog’s favorite toy far away but with a different approach this time. In the old game, he was only going to fetch it, in this version you will also compete to see who gets there first.

A highly recommended activity to do together and is suitable for all canines of any size.

Dog Park 

This is a special place for canines to socialize and enjoy exploring the area and the different structures. This park is ideal for your pet to play with other dogs until it reaches its limit.

Remember that before doing this activity, the dog must have gone through a socialization stage and demonstrated good behavior towards other canines.

Sniffing and tracking games 

These activities are excellent for canines with a strong hunting instinct. With this exercise they will be able to stimulate both their ability to smell and their concentration, being both very good for their physical and mental strengthening.

The idea of this activity is that the dog will track and find the object he previously smelled. Besides, if you add obstacles to this activity, they will help him to improve his physical abilities.


This sport is ideal for the pet and the owner to do together. The activity consists of the person running with the dog tied to the waist through a harness with a rope connected to the dog’s harness.

You must start with short intervals and increase them so that the dog gets used to them. In addition, it is necessary to use a special harness for this sport. It’s very good for all sizes.


Also known as a dog obstacle course or dog field trial. This is an activity you can either build at home or take your dog to these specialized places.

Ideally, he should do the course first with the collar on several times increasing the pace of passing these obstacles. This way, you just follow him leading him without the leash.

This is an activity that helps to develop better canine agility and is good for all sizes of dogs.

Dog tag or chase game 

This activity is the classic “lead her”, so it will also be a joint exercise between the two of you. The game consists of your dog chasing you or you chasing him, and you can make the game more animated if you include a toy in the chase.

Be careful with dogs that have innate herding ability because the game may remind them of their job and cause a change in behavior to a more aggressive one. This activity is ideal for all sizes.


Swimming is ideal for all dogs because it helps them relax and stay focused. In addition, this exercise is suitable for dogs that suffer from joint problems because it is a low-impact activity.

Also, wearing a life vest will allow the dog to stay longer in the water and strengthen its cardiovascular training.


This is a perfect activity for large dogs and best if they are familiar with this exercise because of their training for pushing or herding work.

These trained animals will enjoy this activity because they make use of their ability and take advantage of the natural environment.

It’s best that the dog wears a collar and is well hydrated during the ride.

Remember that you determine the distance and time of the course according to your dog’s endurance.

Red Dot Rally 

This exercise is accompanied by a laser pointer and can be done indoors in a controlled place where the dog will not break something or get hurt, or ideally in the outside yard.

The rally consists of the canine chasing the light and while doing so using his agility by jumping or sneaking up to this point of light.

This exercise helps them to improve their agility and reflexes and is suitable for large and medium sizes because when they fall from the jumps, they can cushion it better. While small sizes, if they jump too high, the fall can be dangerous because they can fracture a bone.

Biking companionship 

An ideal activity for large and medium-sized dogs, in which they will maintain a steady pace in the fast jogging as the owner advances on the bike.

Remember to bring the necessary water for the hydration of the canine and above all to be in optimal conditions to do this exercise.

Accompaniment on skates 

As in bicycles, dogs can do good exercise and accompany their owner while he is on roller skates.

It’s recommended for medium and small breeds since they usually maintain a slower speed.

Marathons or races 

Some countries carry out this type of activity to encourage sport in pets. For example, Spain organizes the “Perrotón” to fight against abandonment and promote adoption.


This is an excellent sport that combines physical work, agility, and socialization. The activity consists of running and jumping between obstacles to catch and get a ball. Also, when the dog completes a station, it will relay with another dog.

Flyball works a lot on the canine’s physical skills as well as his relationship with his owner and other canines with whom he teams up. Ideal for all sizes of dogs.

Heelwork to music 

A sport where the owner does choreography with his furry friend accompanied by music. This activity requires the dog’s agility and concentration.

Although the dance performance lasts approximately 4 minutes, it’s the training that counts the most, because the canine needs concentration and memory to learn the steps and choreograph them in time with the owner.

This type of training can take quite a long time, either weeks or months depending on the difficulty of the choreography. It’s an activity that works for all dogs, but large dogs should not be too heavy.

So that you feel more prepared to do these activities outside the home, I invite you to read everything you need to know before going out with your dog.

Does the dog’s age influence physical activity? 

Clearly, the development or deterioration of muscle and bone mass will be different at each stage. Therefore, as each dog has a different physical conditioning, the intensity and type of exercise will change.

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) makes some recommendations about the exercise required according to the age of the canine.


These are some general recommendations for exercise in puppies, but they don’t necessarily apply to all sizes or breeds.

  • The exercise time for a puppy is twice a day with a duration of 5 minutes per month of birth. This means that for 2 months it will be 10 minutes, for 3 months it will be 15 minutes, and so on.
  • The idea is to keep the exercise sessions short so that the puppy gets used to them better. If he doesn’t tolerate a session, you can reduce the time. But if he is still very active, you can increase the duration a little bit.
  • They should have their complete vaccination schedule, so they can go out and exercise in controlled places, for example, a garden.
  • If the dog is to be exercised outdoors, it should be on soft or smooth surfaces such as grass or cold sand. As their pads are still developing, walking for long periods of time on concrete surfaces can hurt them, so short periods of time are suggested.
  • It’s important to let your puppy rest as much as he needs, so he can recover his strength after the exercises.
  • Don’t allow your puppy to overdo the amount of exercise because it can cause problems to his joints.

Small breed puppies 

  • Keep exercise sessions very short.
  • Walking is a good exercise for puppies, but you have to be careful because they cannot walk very fast. Do it at their own pace, stop when they feel tired or start to lag behind.
  • Miniature and toy poodles are more active and very intelligent breeds, so short training sessions will help them not to get bored. On the other hand, small terriers have a lot of energy and love to chew, so implementing toys while they are physically active will keep them entertained.

Medium breed puppies 

  • They need plenty of exercises, yet moderately. So aside from normal physical activity, distraction time such as free play helps to supplement exercise time.
  • In the case of spaniels and collies, since they are working breeds, activities that employ their mental ability are ideal.

Large and giant breed puppies 

  • These breeds will require more exercise than small and medium breeds because of their size, but it should be taken into account that for these sizes, the development of bones and joints will take more time. It’s necessary to take care of the exercise level of the canine. Although they have a lot of energy, it doesn’t mean that their body should be over-demanded to exercise. Prolonged exercise periods can cause stress on their joints, therefore it’s also important to rest between each session.
  • You should find out if the growth of the breed of dog you have is fast or slow. This is because some agility exercises can cause stress on their legs, which is not convenient because they are not yet fully developed. Such exercises involve jumping, running intensely, and going up and down stairs quickly.


Just like puppies, the amount and intensity of exercise they require will depend on their breed and additional aspects such as diet and physical condition. Here are some general tips for adult dogs.

  • The distance and time of exercise can be leveled with their level of resistance. In this case, walking is a good exercise for these breeds.
  • Physical activity that involves positive reinforcement will help them stay focused and not get bored.
  • To keep the canine active, games such as catching an object are highly recommended.
  • For dogs that rely more on their sense of smell, activities related to using their sense of smell will be perfect.

Small-breed adults 

  • Most small-breed adults do not need as much exercise often. However, dogs like terriers are more active.
  • Depending on the dog’s stamina, physical activity times may vary, but an ideal average is 1 hour well spread out. Walking, playing and training are a good combination to vary the sessions.

Medium-breed adults 

  • Some working dogs will do very well in activities such as jogging and running.
  • As long as they are healthy, dogs can have greater endurance and last more than an hour exercising.

Large and giant breeds adults

  • Most large and giant breeds possess more strength and endurance, so if their health is optimal, they can handle intense exercise involving strength.
  • Certain large breeds may not need that same intensity of exercise, such as greyhounds. For this breed, it works best to release their energy in short bursts, such as running for about 20 minutes and after their rest or later, a slow walk will be ideal.
  • For breeds that have been bred for work and strength activities like herding, hiking is an excellent physical activity.


For older dogs, some activities such as exercise will be limited because they no longer have the same strength and endurance. In addition, they are more prone to develop some health problems that will also slow down their physical activity.

Age-related health problems target various parts of the body. Some of them are arthritis, joint and mobility problems, vision loss, deafness, heart-related problems, and dog dementia (which is a cognitive dysfunction syndrome), among others.

In this case, the breed or size doesn’t interfere much, so these tips are recommended for most dogs that are in this stage of life.

  • It’s important to maintain regular and gentle exercise. This will allow to actively have both muscles and joints of the canine; so it’s more convenient to do physical activity in short periods of time and often. This is done in order to avoid the stiffness that is caused by not using the joints for a prolonged period of time.
  • Walking exercise should never be stopped. Although the intensity and duration may vary according to the age of the canine, it’s important for him to enjoy his activities such as sniffing, stretching his legs, and feeling the surrounding air.
  • Watch out for the weather if the dog is exercising outdoors. At this age, dogs can no longer tolerate very hot or cold temperatures in the same way. It’s best to go out at a time of the day when it’s cool.
  • On walks, it’s advisable to go to places that are more familiar, if the dog has problems with his senses. Since there is already considerable deterioration in his senses, he may eventually lose them and so that the dog does not feel strange or confused while walking; familiar places will keep him calm and above all, will not surprise him since he can no longer be alert as he used to be.
  • Exercise should be maintained as long as the canine allows it and can bear it. The dog should be allowed to rest as long as necessary to recover his energy.
  • Exercising at home is also ideal because you can make use of games that will help him to be distracted and stay active. One of these can be playing with puzzle toys.

As for the exercises that a senior dog can do, we have the following recommendations.

  • Walking is one of the most important exercises for these dogs.
  • Swimming is an excellent activity if the canine likes water and suffers from joint problems.
  • Games that involve the sense of smell.
  • Regular playing will also put them in a good mood. Remember to lower the intensity you used to have with the canine as an adult.
  • It’s important that you continue to socialize with canines, but now that they are the same age.
  • They can still learn tricks that do not require too much physical effort; this will be very helpful to keep the mind and body healthy.

As you have already seen, there are multiple activities for your furry friend not to get bored and to have fun outside, always thinking about his health and well-being. What are you waiting for to enjoy the outdoors with your dog!