Ideas for Getting Your Dog to Exercise
Making sure your pooch gets exercise requires a bit of effort, but it can fun and rewarding for the both of you.
The obesity epidemic sweeping the country doesn’t just cover humans—it extends to dogs, too. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention claims that over 55% of dogs are overweight or on the verge of getting there. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure your dog is getting the proper exercise.
Whether you’re looking for a great way to burn off some energy together or want a little time apart to relax, there’s a solution for every situation.
Walking your dog is probably the most common means of helping him burn off steam. But it’s important that your dog is getting enough walks in throughout the day. One stroll around the block probably won’t do it for most. Depending on your pup’s size and energy level, you should be walking him between 30 minutes and two hours a day.
While smaller dogs are generally fine with shorter walks through the neighborhood, larger breeds like German Shepherds and Retrievers will need to go a bit further. You can break walks up throughout the day, but aim for at least 15 minutes per stroll. Walks can help lower blood pressure and lessen the risk of depression in both humans and pets.
Run Like the Wind
Running is another great option for expending energy. While it might take a bit of training, you can absolutely have your dog running beside you on a trail or track. This method is generally best for larger breeds that can keep pace with your longer strides. Remember that the dog’s need takes precedence, so be prepared to stop when he’s out of breath or needs a break. Always be aware of your surroundings, including cars, other people, and wildlife.
You can also take your dog hiking with you to get in plenty of exercise. While we don’t recommend days-long treks through the wilderness starting out, you can certainly hit the trail for a couple of hours with your pup by your side. Start small with just a mile or two at first and build up to longer hikes to allow him to adjust. Remember to pack along water and food like our grain-free clusters to help keep him hydrated and fed.
One of the best ways for your dog to burn energy and stay in shape is to practice agility training. Many dogs are goal-driven, and agility courses offer the chance to perform repetitive tasks for a reward. Use treats or praise to encourage your dog as he learns the ropes, so to speak. Agility classes are often offered in groups or private sessions, and can be a bit pricey. However, the rewards are a well-trained and happy family with a dog that gets tons of exercise and rest at the end of the day.
The Dog Park
Dog parks can be hit or miss for pet owners. If your furry friend isn’t aggressive, he could have a great time playing with other dogs in a secluded environment. There are tons of perks to using a dog park—he’ll get tons of socialization, freedom to run, and by the end of it, he’ll be tired for the rest of the day. Be aware that not everyone who takes their dog to the park is conscious of puppy social cues. This means there might be the occasional fight breaking out, so it’s important that your dog is able to come on command.
If none of the above appeal to you, there are some creative alternatives. Flyball is one option that is more of a group sport for pets than an exercise routine. The game is a race over a series of hurdles to a box of tennis balls. The dog then takes a ball from the pile and races back over the hurdles to the starting line. The goal is to have the fastest time in the group.
You can also take your dog swimming with you. This is a wonderful option for older dogs or those with joint and hip issues. Swimming is less stressful on the joints than activities like running or walks, but still burns quite a bit of energy and calories.
Hide and seek is another game that works well. Pet owners with a yard can hide an object for the dog to find and watch him go to town trying to sniff it out. Not only is this physically exhausting, but it stimulates your dog’s mental abilities too. When your pup finds his prize, make sure to reward him accordingly!