5 Ways to Tire Out Your Dog Before Leaving the House

A pug dog sleeping on a red couch, in need of some active playtime to tire out.

We know it’s hard to leave your pooch and head off to work, or any other place when you’ll be gone for a long period of time. Just look at him. Sitting there with his big ole eyes staring up at you almost pleading you not go. It tugs at your heartstrings knowing he’ll be cooped up in the house all day.

Instead of feeling bad and  doing nothing about it, consider using one of these easy five techniques to tire him out.

Related: 6 Things We Do That Drive Our Dog Crazy

1. The stair game

Stairs are a great source of exercise for dogs and people alike. Depending on the steepness of your stairs and your dog’s dexterity, there are a couple of ways to use stairs to tire your pup out.

The safest way is to have Rover run up the stairs. If you’re the active type you can just race him up the stairs over and over again and give him a treat every time he beats you for extra motivation. For those of you who prefer to relax while your pup is exercising, you can stand at the bottom of the stairs with your pooch and throw his favorite toy to the top. After he retrieves it, call him back and give him tons of praise and a high energy scratching, then do it again and again. Your dog should be thoroughly winded before too long.

2. Up, down, up, down. Go!

Have you ever heard of doggy pushups? They are a great way to add some mental stimulation to an activity. For this activity to work, your dog has to know the sit and down commands.

Start by putting a couple of treats in your pocket and then giving your dog the sit command. Once he is sitting give him the down command. Then sit, then down, then sit, then down, sit, down.…you get the idea.

After three or four pushups, take a treat (or his favorite toy) out of your pocket and toss it across the room. Once he brings it back to you, it’s back to the pushups. Repeat this as long as your dog has the energy. Then let him wander off and rest.

3. Snack hunt

Snack hunt is like hide-and-seek for treats. The idea is to hide treats all around your house and let your canine sidekick sniff them out.

Start by letting your pooch smell the treats and then have him wait in a stay command and watch you hide it. (You can also put your dog in a different room, as you hide the goodies.) Give him a command like “search” and let him search for the tasty snack.

In the beginning the treats should be in an obvious place that your dog can see.

Related: Bored Dog? Give Him One of These 5 Toys to Keep Him Busy


After he has mastered the game, you can start hiding the treats where he can’t see you.

4. Run him ragged with a laser pointer

Laser pointers weren’t only invented to drive cats wild. You can drive your dog nuts too! Buy a cheap laser pointer at the store and see how attracted to it your sidekick is. Some dogs love it and others couldn’t care less.

If you have a dog that enjoys to chase it, you can run him up and down the stairs, round and round in circles, back and forth in the hallway — pretty much anywhere. Just be sure not to point it into his eyes or at the wall. You don’t want your pup slamming head first into it.

5. Ping Pong doggy

Ping Pong doggy is lots of fun, but you’ll need the help of another family member or a friend. You both need to load up your pockets with treats. (You can use a toy instead depending on your dog’s motivations.)

Have your dog sit next to you and let him smell the treat, then toss next to your partner and yell “get it!” As soon as he gets there and gobbles it down, have your partner take out a treat and let your dog smell it. Then your partner should toss it somewhere on the ground next to you.

No matter how much you may not want to, at some point you’ll have to leave the house and bid your fluff ball adieu. If you’ve found a great game here your dog loves and done your job right though, he’ll be happy you’re finally leaving so he can take a much needed nap.

Related: Variety Is the Spice of Life: How to Keep Your Dog Walks Interesting

(In no way are these tips a substitute for professional advice you’d receive from a trainer or veterinarian. If your dog is having issues, please consult a professional)


Image via Flickr/adina*raul

By Brett Dvoretz

A lifelong dog owner and former professional trainer, Brett has dealt with many dog related situations from training issues to learning to cope with the loss of a beloved pet. Recently he brought along his 130-pound mastiff to live with him in Cambodia and now spends his days freelance writing with his dog Ikelos, proofreading his every word for accuracy. For more, please visit his blog at

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