Remember, a tired dog is a good (and fit) dog!
We know that diet plays an important role in our pet’s health, equally so for exercise! The two work synergistically to create a mind body balance in our pets. Isn’t that what we want for them and for ourselves too?
If you tend to be active yourself, here are a few outdoor activities that you can do with your dog.
Walking – Two to three 30 minute walks per day, at varying speeds, are an easy and great way to exercise your pup, adult dog, and senior pet. Make sure you consider the weather and walk during the cooler parts of the day or in the evenings during the summer months. Also remember that cement and asphalt get very hot! Please protect your pup’s paws with appropriate booties or have them walk on the grass.
Jogging – This is a little more intense than walking, but great for adult dogs. Just make sure your dog is trained to run alongside of you, not in front! Any sudden stop or change of course could land you flat. And again, consider the weather conditions. If you have dogs with short snouts, please only light walking for exercise.
Cycling – With the proper equipment, you can safely bike with your pooch. There are a number of safe “bike leashes” you can get. It doesn’t take long to get your dog trained to run alongside your bike. This is especially good for those dogs with lots of exuberance. In addition to keeping them fit, it also helps with certain behavioral issues. Some dogs don’t know when to quit, so make sure you keep them well hydrated and put on the brakes for a rest!
Training – Integrate working on your dog’s sit, stay, and down with distractions while walking. Practice sitting and staying at the curb, before moving across the street. When another person or dog approaches, move to the side, put your dog in a down stay and have them focus on you. Use treat rewards in the beginning then phase them out. People will comment on your dog’s good manners!
Frisbee/Ball Throwing – If your pooch is a natural retriever, playing fetch is a great outdoor activity. Adding a Frisbee to the mix, helps to break up the monotony and who knows, you might discover a Frisbee champion in your pack. If you don’t have the arm strength to get that ball delivered fast and long, consider using a sling shot or cannon for the ball, they really work great! Work with your dog to retrieve the item and bring it back to you! A lesson or two on “recall” and “drop it” or “release” will help make this an even more enjoyable activity.
Outdoor Tug – You can set up your own tug device by using a strong rope that’s been knotted at the end and affixed to a sturdy tree limb. Make sure it is low enough so that your dog can engage it, but not so low that they don’t have to reach a little for it. You can also use panty hose and place a ball in one of the legs then tie the hose to a tree limb. The Tether Tug is a new toy on the market and one we stock. Just place it in the ground and watch your dog tug away while you enjoy a nice beverage!
Swimming – If you happen to have a pool in your backyard or live near a safe body of water, teach Rover to swim! Yes, most dogs are natural swimmers, but, they don’t know where or how to safely enter or exit the water. Work with them slowly and only in the shallowest water. Once your pup feels secure, toss a toy for them to retrieve. For extra safety, consider having your dog wear a life vest.
Indoor Activities or (Too Cold/Too Hot/Too Dark To Play Outside)
Indoor activities can be fun for the whole family!
Stair Climbing – Only attempt this with carpeted stairs or stairs with a full length runner. If your dog likes to retrieve balls or if they like treats, do some safe stair work with them. Always have them run up the stairs versus down the stairs. With your dog by your side, throw the ball up the stairs, and then tell them to “go get it”. Call them back down to you, have them drop the ball then throw it upstairs again. If using a treat, place a treat on a higher stair making sure the dog can see the treat. Tell the dog to “go get it”! The treat is the dogs reward! Make sure you limit this exercise to match your dog’s age and ability.
Hide and Seek Human – You’ll need to have a good stay command with your dog or have someone hold them while you find a place to hide. Then simply call your dog’s name and wait for them to find you. Give them lots of praise (or a small treat) when they do. Repeat again, making it a bit more challenging each time.
Hide and Seek Toy/Treat – This time, let’s get those noses working. Taking a very high value treat or toy, show your dog what you have then say something like “wait for it” or “get ready”, then place it nearby but slightly behind something and say “find it” in a happy and excited voice. You may have to point out the toy or treat several times, before your dog understands what “find it” means. Once your pooch has done this a few times successfully, increase the level of difficulty.
Puzzle Toys – There are a number of puzzle toys on the market, but you can also make your own! Get a really high value treat or toy and place it inside a box then try and get your pooch to get it out of the box! If they are good at this, you can increase the level of difficulty by folding the flaps of the box over. Take it a step further and put one box inside another, both with flaps folded, for an exciting challenge.
Tread Mill – There are a number of excellent videos on line that teach you how to train your pup to walk on a treadmill. It just takes some time, patience, and lots of small treats! If successful, your dog will love working out!
Pole Toy – This is a great exercise for both dogs and cats! Attach a toy to a rod or wooden pole with about 3 – 5 feet of heavy duty twine or clothesline rope. You should be able to put a hole through the rod then loop the twine through and attach to the toy. Move the toy on the floor by wiggling and shaking it! Allow them to catch it every once in a while…your dog or cat will love this game!
These are just a few ideas on how to keep your pet fit and engaged. I’m sure you can come up with some playful ideas yourself! Just think Fun!