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

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