Exercising regularly is essential for staying healthy and fit. Dogs are not immune to this. Exercising is only one of your dog’s primary requirements. And because life is so hectic, many of us don’t give our dogs the exercise they require. In fact, canine obesity is one of the biggest preventable ailments in dogs and exercising can easily keep that at bay. It also keeps away heart conditions, depression, diabetes, muscle loss, and many other ailments.
On average, most dogs should get 1-2 hours of exercise every day to stay healthy. Depending on your dog’s age, type, and stamina, it may require more or less number of hours. Because no two dogs are alike, determining your dog’s exercise requirements may necessitate trying out different methods. Whenever in any doubt, exercise your dog as he or she desires, but don’t overdo it. In this article, we’re going to look at 9 of the most fun ways through which you can exercise your dog:
1. Walking, Running and/or Cycling
This is a basic form of exercising that most of us tend to provide our dogs with. Walking or jogging with your dog also helps them survey the world with their nose. Taking new routes every time also helps them utilize their visual and olfactory senses in new ways which, in turn, improves their awareness.
While walking is carried out usually with a leash, it’s preferred to use a hands-free leash when you jog or run with your dogs, to keep it easy and smooth. You must also make sure to check with your local authorities if dogs are allowed off-leash. While running, you can also listen to music or audiobooks to enjoy your time better and more productively. This curation of audiobook titles is a great place to start.
If running is too much of an everyday hassle for you, cycling can be the perfect solution. Riding a bike with your dog can be a risky venture, but it’s well worth it if done properly. Test your dog’s pace slowly, one step at a time, and make yourself familiar with the different tips and tricks of the trade for smooth sessions.
2. A Game of Fetch
One of the major advantages of this game is how it can be played anywhere. All you require is a ball or a stick that you have to throw and ask your dog to fetch for you. You might have a few hurdles initially, but once you get past the training stage, it becomes a fun activity for the dog as well.
Other than being a medium of exercising your dog, playing fetch is a great way to teach your dog new skills and improve your relationship. There are various resources such as Preventivevet that can help you with training your dog. You can also play fetch indoors if you have a large room or a long enough corridor!
Despite the prevalent myth, not every dog swims. But if your dog knows how to and also loves swimming, what better way to exercise than that? Swimming has numerous benefits, from relieving stress and pain to improving metabolism and mental health. On extra warm days, it can also help them cool down.
If your dog doesn’t know how to swim, you can teach them with simple steps, increasing in complexity the higher they go. In case you have a pup and you have a spacious enough tub or pool, you can teach them to swim and have fun without going anywhere. Even those dogs suffering from arthritis can swim easily as it’s a weightless exercise and, therefore, easy to do.
4. Nose Games
Games that require your dogs’ nose to work are a great way to exercise your dog both physically and mentally. While keeping them physically active, it also improves their ability to detect scents. You can create a trail game where a certain scent leads to a target or box where a treat is kept beforehand.
In the “Which Hand” game, you hide a treat in one of your hands and let the dog guess which one it is, based on their smelling abilities. If they guess correctly, you treat them, or else, you try again. You can also play a hide and seek game where you give the command “come” once you hide in a spot. Using your scent trails, the dog can then find you. All these games are easy to play, very flexible, and also challenge their mental abilities.
5. Dog Sports
There’s a large variety of dog sports to choose from, with new categories being devised as time passes. There are classes for several sports too where you can enroll your dog. An example of a dog sport is dog agility where the dog runs through or over obstacles and hurdles. The sport tests both their efficiency and accuracy. Flyball is one of the most popular dog sports where the dog races with other dogs to the finish line where they catch a tennis ball by pressing a pad, and bring it back to their owner.
Carting, also sometimes called dryland mushing, is another popular dog sport where a dog (or a group of dogs) pulls a cart filled with goods, sometimes even people. There are many other types of dog sports, from tracking trial to dog jumping to canicross that you can train your dog in.
6. Socialize With Other Dogs
Dogs are very much like humans in the fact that they love to socialize and meet other dogs. That’s why you can take them to nearby parks where other dog owners might take a stroll with their dogs. This will help in improving your dog’s social interaction skills while also making him/her exercise.
You can also have your dog playing with your friends’ or neighbors’ dog(s). Using long leashes can help in case you don’t have a secure space for them to play by themselves. You can use a variety of toys to let them play with each other or try out any of the numerous games. Be it a game of keep-away, where an object (usually small) is thrown from one end to the other, or a game of tug of war between two dogs, the possibilities are endless!
7. Playing Tug of War
This activity usually requires your active participation and therefore, is a fun exercise to indulge yourself in, if you have some time and energy to spare. This game is very challenging to both the physical and mental capacities of your dog while being easy for you. It’s also a great way to shape their impulses and form new habits since the game relies on rules and manners. If you don’t have a tug toy already, you can easily make one yourself with old garments and some fleece. Make sure the tug material does not pose any choking dangers to your dog.
However, there are a few things you must keep in mind before you indulge in this game. The game can bring out your dog’s competitive side and make him/her more aggressive. Therefore, it’s suggested you call off the game or light up the mood if the dog gets too charged. You must also ensure your dog, especially if it’s a puppy, has been trained for basic bite inhibition to keep your hands safe.
8. Food Stuffing and Dispensing Toys
Dispensing and stuffed toys are a fun way to get your dog exercising while also treating them suitably. These products reward your dog with food for interacting with it. A Kong Wobbler is a wonderful example of a stuffing toy where you insert treats and let the dog figure out how to get it out of the holes. It also works as a great starting point for dogs who’ve never taken part in puzzle activities before. It keeps them busy for a long time while also challenging them.
There are several other food puzzle games to try out too! From interactive dog bowls to dog feeding mats, the options are many. These products and activities make sure your dog doesn’t overeat and require minimum efforts on your end, therefore providing high efficiency.
9. Using a Flirt Pole
Using a flirt pole is a simple way to get your dog exercising in no time. A flirt pole (or flirt stick) is just a long pole with a toy attached at one of its ends. As you move the stick, the toy moves along simultaneously, attracting your dog to it. Using a flirt pole hardly requires any physical activity on your part while providing ample mental and physical exercise to your dog.
It can also help them learn basic manners and control their impulses. Keeping short sessions is recommended since it’s a high-impact exercise and will tire your dog out in a few minutes. Moreover, you can easily create a flirt pole by yourself.