dog on bed

How To Keep Your Pets Happy Without a Big Yard

Houses with large, fenced-in yards are the storybook perfect homes for dogs to thrive in, but not everyone has this type of living situation. Does that mean you should forego a loving relationship with your pup because you don’t have a yard? Of course not!

Dogs are happy anywhere, as long as they’re with you. It doesn’t take a huge backyard to do the job. They do need exercise and stimulation, though.

When you already have a furry family member and you’re planning on moving, this should be taken into account as you search for your next home. A decent-sized yard and a home on a low-traffic road are highly recommended.

If an outside play area isn’t possible for your current or future situation, there are other things you can do to keep your pup satisfied and healthy.

Exercise ideas for small areas

If you have a pup who needs a little more activity than he or she is currently getting in your apartment, you might need to get creative.

Here are some medium-intensity activities that work for most ages and breeds, giving your dog exercise in small areas.


1. Swimming

You don’t need a huge pool in your backyard to encourage your pup to swim. A small, three-foot above-ground option does the trick if you have a small yard. If a pool isn’t an option, head to your local lake or beach, grab a kiddy pool or fill your bathtub!

Swimming is considered one of the best exercises for all breeds and ages because it’s low impact. Dogs with hip and joint problems can get relief from their pain when they swim.

Be sure to always use a doggy life-jacket, though, no matter how much of an expert you and Fido are.

2. Biking

Want to tire your pup out for the day? Let them bicycle around some trails with you!

While you bike, Fido runs alongside, attempting to keep pace, get ahead, run back, lag behind sniffing a few things, and then catch up again. It’s the perfect exercise for many well-trained dogs.

Cycling with a dog on busy roads is dangerous, but if you know the area is safe and your dog listens to you, this is a great way to give them all of their at-their-own-pace exercises for the day.

3. Obstacle courses

Indoor obstacle courses don’t have to be complicated to be fun!

Using items you have laying around your house, you can build your pup a training ground, teaching them many skills and stimulating them at the same time. When you’re done, either keep it up and close it off or take it down until you need it again.

Easy to find and inexpensive things for a doggy obstacle course include:

  • Hula hoops, sticks or poles for agility weaving obstacles
  • Chairs and cardboard boxes for tunnels
  • Plywood or cinder blocks for ramps
  • Hurdles
  • Kiddy or doggy pools

4. Treadmills

There’s no substitution for a long walk around the neighborhood for your pup, but if they’re still bursting with energy or you can’t get them out that day (it’s raining, you’re running late, etc.), then a treadmill might be an option.

On the low speed, low incline setting, and always supervised by you or another responsible adult, pups often enjoy the brisk pace of a treadmill.

dog with ball

5. Fetch

It sounds too easy. A simple game of fetch?

But this easy, old-as-time activity is a crowd favorite and a great way to get your pup physically and mentally stimulated.

You don’t have to do much. You can even sit on your couch and train your dog to bring you the rope, ball or other coveted toy.

Your dog, on the other hand, will go crazy with excitement, getting your attention, running around the house after a toy, and growling happily as you pretend to take the toy away from them.

It’s the perfect way to wind down after a long day when your pup still has too much energy and you have none.

Do your background research first

Worried about making sure your pup has full run of a football-field-sized backyard? You might be concerned for no reason.

Some dogs require a lot of room to roam, but others get enough activity with just a little walk around the block. If you don’t have a dog yet but you know where you’ll be living, choose the breed based on your own activity level.

However, you need to be careful about how much activity you are giving your dog. The American Kennel Club advises that puppies, adults and seniors get different levels of exercise. In each of those stages, how much stimulation your pup can take depends on the breed.

If you’re concerned Fido is getting too much activity and needs a break, a crate might be the solution you need to calm a hyperactive dog. Make his crate as comfortable as possible so it doesn’t feel like a punishment and set the room’s atmosphere to calm and relaxing.

A bored dog is often a misbehaving one, though, so it’s important for your sanity and their health to keep them stimulated.

When you can’t match the dog to the house, find new ways to exercise

So many stories of dogs in shelters lead with, “We didn’t have the room to give him/her enough exercise, so we felt bad.” Before you get a dog, it’s an understood condition that they’ll need stimulation.

Instead of punishing a misbehaving, bored pup or giving them up, learn how to give them the exercise they need and deserve, regardless of how big or small your home or yard is.


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