How To Tire Your Dog Out On A Walk

We don’t always have time to take Honey on a long walk. But we know how to give her a workout even when a walk is short. If you need to tire your dog out on a walk in a short distance, work their brain instead.

Honey the golden retriever goes for a walk.

I’m going for a walk. What do you think we’ll see?

Work The Brain Or Work The Legs

If you take your dog on a ten-mile hike, they’ll sleep deeply once they get home. But your schedule probably doesn’t allow you to give your dog that much exercise every day.

The good news is that you can tire your dog just as much by working their brain as by working their legs.

If we can’t take Honey on a long walk, we make sure she has a stimulating one. If you want to tire your dog out on his walk, maybe one of our tricks will work for you.

How To Tire Your Dog On A Short Walk

Living on a small boat, we just can’t survive with a crazy dog. We need to make the most of Honey’s exercise time so she can settle down in our tiny space.

Honey the golden retriever sleeps in the cockpit in her life jacket.

For some reason, it makes the people happy when I sleep in the cockpit. What do they think I’m going to do? Jump off the boat?

We do the following things to make Honey’s walks more tiring.

Add play time

We don’t put Honey’s leash on her and then walk her through the park. We start and stop our walks with play time in between.

Honey likes to play fetch, bitey face (a weird game where my husband lightly smacks her in the muzzle while she pretends to bite him; she loves it), and rolling in the grass while getting her tummy rubbed.

Usually, Honey will tell us when she’s ready to break up her walk with a game. But I’ll also bring a ball or her favorite tug ring out of my bag while she’s checking her p-mail. Once Honey sees a fun toy, she’s ready for a new kind of fun.

Honey the boat dog's favorite gift is the Tuff Ring.

When the tuff-ring comes out, it’s time for fun.

And speaking of p-mail…

Walk somewhere new

This is an easy one for us. We live on a boat. The longest we ever stay anywhere is a month. And when we’re traveling south for the winter, we may walk Honey somewhere different every day.

That means Honey never gets bored by smelling the same smells.

If you take a regular walking route, do you notice your dog only taking short sniffs? If all the other dogs in your neighborhood walk the same way you do, they’re smelling the same dog scents over and over again.

New things are stimulating for dogs and for people. Maybe you don’t have lots of safe options for walking your dog a different way in your neighborhood. If not, why not take a drive somewhere and try something new? It will be good for both of you.

Honey the golden retriever walks in Eastport.

Wasn’t it nice of the people of Eastport to match their sign to my pretty leash?

Do agility moves

When we lived in a house, we took advantage of construction sites and rocky gorges to practice agility moves with Honey. It helped her learn to move her body in new ways–ways that have come in handy now that she has to scramble around on a boat and dinghy.

That construction tape around the sidewalk repair makes an easy leap. A low bench can make a great table to jump. And parking bollards can become practice weave poles.

Do tricks

It took me a while to realize how much fun it would be to train Honey to do tricks. She enjoys learning things so much it’s hard not to smile.

Honey the golden retriever puts her paws on the bench in Annapolis.

Don’t I look cute with my paws up on the bench?

While out on a walk, Honey practices putting her paws up on a bench and weaving through my legs. And sometimes she even gets to show off her “high-five” for a new friend.

While leads me to one of Honey’s favorite parts of a walk.

Meeting new people and other animals

You should see Honey when a stranger walks by. She looks up expectantly. She wags once or twice. And if the person continues on without petting her, Honey’s head and tail drop despondently.

Honey is a social animal.

Not only does she love meeting people as well as dogs and cats, she finds the interactions mentally stimulating.

When greeting someone smaller or more vulnerable, like a baby or a cat, Honey calms herself to seem less threatening to her new friend. All that impulse control takes a lot of brain power. And it tires her out.

Honey the golden retriever and a corgi dine out .

After I meet Mr Corgi and his people, I’ll be ready for a nice long nap.

If we can’t take Honey on a long walk, a short one by a playground or public festival will tire her out just as well.

Benefits Of Walking Your Dog

When you add play, variety, tricks, and social meetings, walks become lots of fun–for you and your dog. But most of all, they’ll tire your dog out. When you live on a boat, it’s a necessity. But even if you live in a house, it’s a pretty nice gift.

Your turn: What’s your favorite way to walk? Do you mix it up? Or do you like a regular routine?

We are pleased to be joining the Positive Pet Training blog hop hosted by Tenacious Little Terrier, WagNWoof Pets, and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Exercise and Training”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not! Click the picture to see the other bloggers in the hop.

Positive pet training blog hop.


  1. We do a lot of walking, every morning for sure, and we also love to go to new places to explore. With all our dog sports and competitions, we don’t lack in mental or physical workouts. A bit of nose work at home, or where ever we are at, always helps to work our brains. At our house we are almost always tired dogs, but we know a lot of people who have dogs that do need to be worked out more. Many people don’t know the value of a good mental workout.

    • “Many people don’t know the value of a good mental workout.”

      So true. They don’t know how important it is for their dogs or for themselves.

  2. We play bitey face too, haha. We also like to play “sprinkles”, you throw a handful of treats on the ground and your dog gets to sniff them out.

    • Ooooh, we do something similar with treats when we leave Honey on the boat. But I didn’t have a name for it. I love “sprinkles.” That’s the greatest.

  3. We mix it up, we go around the neighbourhood, the marina, down the beach foreshore, along walking trails, on drives to new areas etc. Sometimes we’ll practice tricks.

    • We also play bitey face lol. And hide and seek in the house. Once i saw him look for my partner Trevor and lifted his paw like a pointer would do. I noticed he was mostly relying on sight rather than scent, but it’s fun.

  4. We live in your typical suburban neighborhood. I always think Ruby is going to get bored with our walks so I try to vary it each day. She never seems to get bored with the neighborhood (sometimes I do) but also likes it when we explore new areas.

    Today is rainy so we will be trying some indoor activities and taking short walks.

    • In truth, I think dogs are less likely to get bored because they are so much better than we are at being totally present in the moment.

      I hope your rainy day bought you lots of fun.

  5. Like you, we get to take different walks in different places. Torrey is all about checking the pee mail everywhere. If we can’t get out, especially in the evening, we play “find it”with Cheerios hidden in the RV.

    • Don’t you just think the nomadic life is awesome for dogs? After all, they get the routine of their home. But their home moves to so many amazing places.

      But I don’t think I’ll try “find it” with Cheerios anytime soon. I think Honey would resent me for making her work so hard for little oat rings.

  6. We’ve recently had some new dogs added to the neighborhood, so the pee mail is keeping us pretty busy. With all the wildlife around as well, most walks are pretty interesting. BUT if the dogs get bored, I will walk them on the opposite side we normally do. That is usually enough.

    With Delilah, I sometimes do random things, like run backward so she’s running towards me, or stop and have her sit.

    • You need a go-pro on your head. Because I foresee a funny video one time when you’re running backward while Delilah is running toward you.

  7. What great tips! I know with winter coming, walks can be abbreviated if the weather is icy and cold so I’ll have to keep this in mind. Here’s to great autumn weather in the meantime and lots of tired pooches.

    • When we were living in upstate NY and it was bitter cold, I also used to take Honey for more frequent but shorter walks. She got such a charge of being out in the snow. And I was only able to tolerate the temps for such a short time.

      Let’s hope it’s a long autumn and a short winter. 🙂

  8. Fortunately my neighborhood has lots of trails so it is easy to mix up my walks. When that gets old, I drive to a new section. Wilson is so old, tiring him out is not even an issue. I am happy if he walks at all, Jimmy at 11 is content with or without exercise (although Cedar has really helped to up his fitness level), and Cedar can’t be tired out no matter what! LOL!

    • Cedar has turned everything on its ear in your household. How cool that he is helping Jimmy stay fit. And that he hasn’t made your senior gentleman Wilson crazy. 🙂

  9. We hadn’t thought about how much you must have to work off Honey’s energy to have her comfortably chill in the small space of the boat. You’re so right that working the brain is as a huge component of exercise. We’ve seen how training has tiring effects, too.

    • We’re lucky that Honey has adaptable energy levels. She will go, go, go when we need her to. And relax at other times. But yes, it’s important to work our animals’ brains to give them a good life.

      I’m sure Cupcake and Chanel sleep extra well after going places. 🙂

  10. What great ideas! Luke has become so used to practicing his cues when we walk, that he often stops on his own, sits in front of me and watches me. That’s a good idea about doing tricks and such too. I think he’d enjoy that, and it would help him relax as well.
    Thanks for joining the hop! I’m so glad we can inspire you. 🙂

    • Y’know, I can almost see Luke stopping to practice his cues while walking with you. Must be from seeing him star in videos on your blog.

  11. We don’t have many options for walks, so we take a lot of the same paths, so I do training with the dogs while they are walking. You wouldn’t believe the magic of bringing out a treat does for a walk. Since our walks are pretty casual and loose, I like to work on fine tuning them, especially for winter walking. 🙂

  12. We usually stick to the same routes–we have two regular ones in our neighborhood–because new places are too stimulating for Rye. If I work her brain too much, then we we get home she’s like a toddler that’s so tired they’re ready to pass out but just can’t convince themselves to go to sleep even though they’re making everyone else crazy. She’ll throw little tantrums–tormenting Soth, attacking her bed, barking uncontrollably–so we have to have a fine balance of physical and mental exercise with her. We do a lot of heeling patterns in our walks, though, so we can work her brain while we work her legs–I’m sure the neighbors thing we’re crazy when we change directions in the middle of the road and then switch back to the previous direction a few seconds later 🙂 It sounds like you’ve got great plans in place to keep Honey from getting too wild for boat life! Thanks for joining the hop!

    • Too tired is as bad as not tired enough. Your description of Rye over-stimulated reminds of an Australian shepherd foster puppy I had. She was the same way.

  13. I’m glad we have a BIG back yard! The road is too busy; and the ball field is too full of poops from other dogs whose owners are too lazy to bother cleaning up after them. In any case, I don’t go over there much any more. I have weave poles, a small tunnel, and cavalettis we can use when the weather cooperates. And there’s always a squirrel or two for the girls to chase back up tree or out of the yard. 🤣

  14. We like to mix it up as well! If we’re going to a new or semi-new place, I make a point of walking Mr. N there so he can sniff out new smells. He also likes doing tricks as we walk and saying hello/warning off all the animals on our routes including the pony, goose, squirrels and all the resident cats.