It’s time to talk about dog health and fitness. We spend enough time contemplating our own, coming up with exercise and meal plans and trying to do our best to improve ourselves. The most fun and convenient part of dog fitness is that it will almost always be directly linked to your own mental and physical wellness. From the simple fact that when you take your dog for a walk, you physically go for a walk also, to the opportunities for new exercise and activity ideas that we’re going to take a look at today.
You might be thinking something like, “but my dog isn’t overweight,” and thinking that the program you’re currently undertaking along with the food you’re providing is working out just fine – so why bother reading on. Well, even if your dog is perfectly fit and well and doesn’t necessarily need any more exercise, the psychological and emotional benefits of doing something new can be extensive. We all know how easy it can be to grow bored of routine. So, we’re giving you a few fresh ideas for ways you and your pup can get fit, stay in shape and ultimately have a good time together.
1. A twist on the traditional walk
All too often when we walk our dogs, we find ourselves guiding the way and ultimately telling them where to go and what to do. How often do you see people tugging on their dog’s leash while they stop to smell something that piques their interest? The idea with the “twist on the traditional” walk is that instead of going for your usual walk around the block, or down to the park, you let the dog lead the way. If he or she wants to stop and sniff something for a minute, let them, if they want to go left instead of right, consider whether it’s possible. This will not only make your walk a little bit more interesting and unique, you’ll be allowing your dog’s exploration instinct to flourish. A win-in on all accounts.
Mix up your walk by adding some running intervals to is. Most dogs, and this does depend on the breed, love to run. It’s also very good for them, and it’s very good for you. So put on some jogging-appropriate clothing and break into a run, you might be surprised by how much you and your dog enjoy it. Much like walks in general, running might inspire you to go to new tracks and new parks with great spaces for running, so you’ll ultimately end up with more interesting rotations.
This one is only important if your dog is actually overweight. Much like humans, the best way to get them to shed the pounds (aside from fixing up the diet) is to get involved in a physical activity that is fun. Most dog group classes focus on agility, where there is running, jumping and a little but of competition.
Another selection from the obvious pool, fetch is extremely rewarding for you and your dog as it’s not only great exercise but a wonderful bonding task. To mix it up, we suggest heading into different terrain. For example, when permitted head to the beach instead of the park and use a stick instead of a ball. Routine is boring for everyone, including your dog.
5. Other dogs
Your dog loves you, but they probably also love to play with other dogs. If you have friends with dogs then you might want to chat about heading down to the park and letting them all play together. If that’s not a possibility, you may be able to consider an off-leash park if you have one nearby. Here, you’ll probably find plenty of other owners with dogs who are more than willing to play.
If you’ve got a safe body of water nearby, you can never underestimate the joy your dog will probably extract from going for a swim, or even simply frolicking around on the shore. You can combine fetch in the equation, allowing them to swim and retrieve. Remember, safety always comes first.
What do you think of our exercise ideas? Do you have any tips? Is there anything fun you do with your dog that we haven’t suggested? Let us know in the comments!
Tiahn Wetzler is a journalist, writer, editor and animal lover. Follow her on Instagram @tiahnwetzler