Your dog needs to get their daily dose of exercise, and depending on the breed, more than just once a day. What better way for you to get exercise too than to do it with your dog? Enjoying fun exercise with your dog is not only a necessity for both yours and your dog’s health, but goes a long way to strengthening the bond between pet and owner.
Do you live in a built up area with very few green spaces? Or are you in a more rural area where you’ve got loads of space to do whatever activity takes your fancy? Wherever you live, these ideas will help to boost your dog’s activity levels and overall health…
There’s More To Life Than Catch
Playing ball is, of course, one of the best places to start as most dogs love their ball. If you have a cheeky boy or girl who does fetch when you throw, but doesn’t allow you to get to it in order to throw again, try the two ball technique. This is where you have one ball to throw at all times, and your dog is more likely to let go of the one they have – which means a constant level of activity for them, never mind fun! This activity can also be done with sturdy sticks found on the ground in the park, the key is just to have two items.
But activities needn’t be confined to playing fetch. There are a large variety of other games you can play with your dog, including:
- Long walks
- Tug of war (a fun article to read: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/pets/dog-behavior/playing-tug-of-war-with-your-dog)
- And even more exciting pursuits such as surfing.
How Much Is Too Much?
Some activities are better for cities and others will be better for rural areas but, in general, all dogs should have a minimum level of exercise. This is dependent on breed and age, as well as their general health, though aim for around half an hour to 2 hours a day according to PetMD (http://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/evr_dg_exercising_with_your_dog101). It can be split into two or three shorter sessions or be one long one – whichever fits in with your schedule, but ideally two shorter sessions.
There are some conditions however which will mean your dog cannot do as much physical activity as mentioned here, and in such cases, you should definitely check any specifics with your family vet. There will be some playtime activities which are not recommended with arthritic dogs or those with hip dysplasia, and are absolutely unsafe. You’re not completely without variety though, so do ask your vet about fun ways to exercise with your dog.
Great Ideas For Dogs With Physical Issues
One great example which is perfect for these animals is swimming. Dogs experiencing arthritic symptoms will benefit from regular swimming due to its non-weight bearing nature, and is very good for easing stress, and pressure on joints, tendons, muscles, and nerves in general. Exercising in this low-impact manner still allows for the heart rate to increase, and gets the blood pumping, taking fresh oxygen to the muscles, helping to keep the joints flexible. Warmer water would be better than cold, but any water is better than none at all, so have a blast swimming with your dog. If you’d like to read more, visit this link: http://www.pedigree.com/all-things-dog/article-library/why-swimming-is-good-for-older-dogs.aspx.
Another great activity which can be suitable in most types of environments is agility training. It’s a lot of fun for your dog, and amazing to see what they are capable of achieving. Getting involved in agility activities doesn’t mean you have to compete, so even if you have an older, less sprightly dog, they can still enjoy the activities either by attending classes or setting up your own track at home or your nearby park. Remember to start slowly to get your dog used to it. It would be a good idea to attend a class or two first to see ways of setting up courses. Agility is excellent for developing your dog’s confidence. Have a look at this video for just some of the basics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS1R2bhdcWA.
“Dog Tag” is also a really fun way to play with your dog, getting both of your heart rates’ going. Dog Tag is as simple as it sounds, and you can do it at home, outside in the garden, at the park, in open woodland…wherever you want. Here is a cute video to demonstrate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YWhCQjHChM.
Remember though, with any dog, the most important first step when exercising is to take a few minutes to warm up first by walking at a moderate pace, and don’t forget the cool down phase at the end of your activity too.