Dogs need daily exercise, irrespective of their age and breed. A good exercise routine combined with a well-balanced, nutritious diet will keep your furry friend happy and healthy for years to come.
Lack of exercise can lead to your pet becoming obese, which increases the risk of several diseases from diabetes to arthritis.
Also, dogs that go without regular exercise may suffer from a variety of behavioral issues, including destructive behaviors like barking, digging or chewing.
To let your canine friend get out more and enjoy life, the best option is to give your dog plenty of exercise and activity. Don’t skip it using excuses like it’s too cold or hot outside, the days are getting shorter or you do not have time. Make it a priority, and you and your pet will both be happier for it.
Here are 10 exercises that will help keep your dog healthy.
Taking your dog for a walk daily is a great way to jump-start a healthy lifestyle program.
Regular walking is one of the best exercises for your pet. It can help fight obesity and is beneficial to your pet’s digestive system, even aiding in relieving constipation.
Taking your dog on walks also helps your pet enjoy different smells and discover new places. You can take your dog for a walk around the block, to the dog park or to a regular park.
Adult dogs should walk at least 30 minutes a day. However, the actual amount of time can vary depending on breed, age and size.
For your pet’s safety, it is important to teach your dog to walk on a leash. You can carry some treats with you to give your dog regular, positive encouragement for good behavior while you’re walking.
Bringing your dog with you for a run or jog is great exercise for your pet. Just remember to always run with your dog on a leash, unless you are in a designated off-leash park.
Running can help increase stamina and strengthen muscles. Also, it is good for fighting obesity.
Avoid running or jogging many miles initially. You must gradually increase the intensity and duration of the run over a few weeks, then aim to remain consistent. Before and after running with your dog, always warm up and cool down with a five-minute walk.
Jogging or running is not recommended for young dogs whose bones haven’t fully developed. It can also be bad for elderly dogs.
Swimming is a good exercise to improve your dog’s muscle strength and tone. It also promotes cardiovascular health and improves your dog’s metabolic rate.
This low-impact exercise is also easy on your dog’s joints.
For puppies and small dogs, you can put some water in the bathtub and you have an instant swimming pool!
For adult or bigger dogs, you can look for a nearby dog park that has a pool or a swimming center that caters to dogs.
A simple game of fetch can also help your dog get a daily dose of exercise. This game keeps your dog engaged, active and helps release pent up energy.
Use a toy that your dog likes and allow your dog to sniff and mouth the toy. Place the toy on the ground and encourage your dog to pick up the toy and bring it to you. Reward your dog every time your dog does it correctly.
Do not play this game with toys that have ribbon, string or parts that can be chewed off and ingested.
Hide-and-seek is a great workout for your dog. It can benefit both your furry friend’s brain and body. It also helps build a strong bond between you and your dog through play.
Also, most dogs love this fun game and all your family members can partake.
All you need to do is put your pet in a ‘stay’ command while you run and hide. Then, call him and your pet will simply run around here and there to find you. Be sure to have a reward for him when he finds you.
6. Indoor Obstacle Course
When the weather is good, you can allow your dog to go in the backyard and play around with your kids. But during the winter months, when your canine friend cannot go outside and play, you can create an indoor obstacle course.
This is an excellent indoor activity for dogs that need mental and physical exercise.
To make an indoor obstacle course, you can use chairs or short tools as weave poles for your dog to navigate through. Even a bat set atop two buckets makes a great hurdle for your dog to jump over.
However, keep jump heights at or below the level of your dog’s elbows to avoid putting stress on the bones and joints.
7. Running on the Stairs
You can also run your dog up and down the stairs from time to time. This exercise will tire out your dog.
In fact, the steps add an additional challenge to a dog’s workout and provides a nice, whole-body workout. Different muscles get engaged while running up and down stairs, thus making this exercise good for fighting obesity.
Just make sure the stairs are safe and that your dog can’t fall.
This exercise is not recommended for elderly dogs or those suffering from arthritis.
Hiking with your dog is beneficial for both you and your canine friend. Hiking engages your dog’s body as well as mind, benefitting your dog both physically and mentally.
But when it comes to hiking, choose a familiar hiking trail and make sure it is free of wild animals, dangerous trails or general opposition to dogs.
For active dogs, a hiking trail that requires climbing like hills and inclines is a good option. But for dogs that are less active, choose a trail that is short (in duration) and flat.
When going for a hike, always begin with shorter hikes like a mile or two and build up from there. Also, be sure to bring enough water for your dog to prevent dehydration.
Cycling with your dog is a more rigorous activity than running and is beneficial for both you and your furry friend.
Cycling is perfect for dogs that are exuberant on walks and have tons of energy. It will also help with any behavioral issues that your pet may have.
Attach your dog’s leash to your bike’s frame or seat stem to absorb much of the force of sudden tugs.
However, before enjoying cycling with your furry friend, make sure your dog has the energy and stamina to trot alongside as you bike. Also, you need to pedal at a pace that will allow your pet to keep up easily.
10. Using a Treadmill
You can also try exercising your dog on a treadmill. Treadmills can serve a good role in helping overweight dogs lose weight.
However, it is best to use a treadmill only when the outside weather does not permit outdoor exercise.
You can exercise your dog on your own treadmill or buy one specifically for dogs, which you can easily find in the market.
You’ll need to introduce your dog to the treadmill by letting it sniff it. Only when your dog is comfortable with the treadmill, allow your pet to get on it. Start with a very low setting, and work your way up to the desired setting to provide a more challenging workout.