When you think of exercising your dog, the first thing that likely comes to mind is going on a walk. Daily walks are very beneficial and essential part of having a dog. Walks provide an excellent way to maintain your dog’s fitness level, relieve their boredom, and keep their potty schedule regular. If your schedule permits, frequent, shorter walks are better than one long walk per day.
However, depending on your dog, a daily walk may not be enough. Often, the dog is restricted by your pace. The dog must keep a shorter, more consistent stride to stay in line with you, either walking or trotting. Unless you incorporate intervals into your daily walk, the dog is likely not getting the opportunity to “stretch out” his gate and challenge his fitness level.
Some dogs just need more exercise and variety. How much will depend on several factors unique to your dog – her age, breed, personality, activity level, amount of energy, coat type and more. The same way that people integrate multiple activities into their exercise regimen to prevent boredom and injury, pets can benefit from incorporating new activities too. “Cross training” can help your dog improve his fitness level, acquire new skills and bond more closely with his favorite person (you!). Below are a few ideas about fun things to do with your dogs. Change up your dog’s fitness routine from time to time!
Fun Things To Do With Your Dog
A popular trend is gyms that cater to humans and to their doggie companions. K9 Fit Club in Chicago is experiencing the success of helping people and their pets loose weight and get in shape. Working out with a friend (even the four legged kind) helps keep you motivated. They are spreading across U.S. and opening locations soon in NY, Greeley CO, Phoenix AZ, New Orleans LA, Cleveland OH, Memphis TN, and Kansas City MO.
If a gym membership is not an option then look into doggie daycares or one of the following activities to spice up your dog’s fitness routine.
If your dog loves chasing tennis balls then Fly Ball may be an activity to try. This K9 sport involves hurdles as well. Each dog must clear the hurdles and run to a box that will release a ball when the spring loaded pad is pressed by the dog.
Some breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and English Water Spaniels, are natural swimmers, taking to the water like fish. For others, it may be an acquired taste. Swimming can be an excellent way for your dog to stay active with minimal wear and tear on his joints. Water also soothes the nervous system and increases relaxation, especially helpful in cases where a dog must undergo physical rehabilitation.
Also Read <How To Teach Your Dog To Swim>
It’s best to start out slowly if your dog is not familiar with swimming. Start in calmer waters, such as a pool or lake, until you know how your dog will do. Take them to a quiet area, support their weight at first (oddly enough, the “doggy paddle” does not come naturally to all dogs) and maintain a watchful eye on them at all times.
This might be considered the “extreme sports” offshoot of swimming. Not for the faint of heart, this sport consists of dogs taking great leaps from docks and into the water. Success is measured by speed, jump distance and often height.
Also Read <Is My Dog Ready For Dock Diving?>
Finding the opportunity to let your dog off leash occasionally will pay dividends for her health. However, as the recent recipient of a $50 ticket, I should advise you to make sure you are in an area where off leash dogs are permitted! Off the leash, dogs have more opportunities to run across varied terrain, which strengthens and tones different muscle groups. Also, they are not constrained by your (human) pace, and will naturally vary their pace between trotting and galloping, increasing their fitness level by adding intervals. Assuming your dog can pass the temperament test, dog parks are great for this purpose, and they add a social element.
Agility training is a natural boredom buster for dogs. In agility, dogs compete through obstacle courses, judged both on time and accuracy. Obstacles might include tunnels, jumps, ramps, see-saws, weaving poles and much more. Like show jumping with horses, the competition is very much a partnership between animal and human. The dogs rely on the body language of their human partners to direct them where to go next. Many agility classes and clubs exist, as the sport has exploded in popularity in the past twenty years, but all experts agree that it is best to start with basic obedience classes to begin developing the relationship and bond required to be successful at agility.
If you do not have the time to invest in these new activities or your dog appears to be a “one trick pony”, you can still easily change up your usual routine. At a minimum, try to incorporate intervals into your daily walks – adding short bursts of speed, or hill runs. Be sure to change the course you take on a regular basis. Even backyard play can increase your dog’s fitness level. According to K9 magazine, even 5 minutes of tug-of-war play can count for as much as 15 minutes of a walk!
Your dog’s fitness level depends on your creativity. Finding ways to incorporate new sports, or even just new activities within your existing walks and backyard play, can go a long way to keeping your dog healthy and happy throughout her lucky life with you.