Get moving with your pooch with these tips on fun and free physical activities
Regular exercise is incredibly important for your own health and fitness, but it is also necessary for your pet. The more active your pet is, the healthier he is going to be. You don’t necessarily need to take your dog on a 5-mile run every day, but there are some simple ways you can improve your pet’s physical fitness – and your own! In this article you will receive 6 helpful tips to get your pet to be more active and to improve his health.
1.) Power Walking
When you take your dog for a walk, how much effort are either of you truly expending? The chances are good that you take your dog for a leisurely stroll which gives him time to sniff around but doesn’t do much in terms of exercise. To improve your dog’s fitness, you may need to pick up the pace – aim for something between 15 and 20 minutes per mile. At this speed, you should feel like you are putting in a good effort and your dog may begin panting. Don’t worry! This is normal – if your dog starts to exhibit labored breathing, however, you may need to stop for a rest.
Jogging with your dog is not something you can just leap right into, especially if your dog isn’t used to vigorous exercise. Dogs love to run but you should take the time to build up their endurance by taking them on short jogs several times a week, gradually increasing the length of the jog. Begin each jog with a brief warm-up period and keep an eye on your dog throughout to make sure he isn’t getting too tired. By the time you and your dog can handle three or four 20-minute jogs per week you can start thinking about increasing your mileage – just be sure not to increase too fast.
3.) Agility Training
Agility training is not just a great form of exercise for dogs, but it can also be a lot of fun for them. Weaving through poles and running over planks helps to develop muscle coordination and keeps your dog active. If you don’t have access to an agility course, you don’t necessarily need to build one yourself – use low walls and fences, fence posts, and other existing objects for your dog’s course.
4.) Active Play
Another great way to increase your dog’s fitness is to engage in active play sessions. A game of fetch can get your dog running while also giving the two of you some quality time together. Other options for active play include games of tug and hide-and-seek. To get your dog really running, throw a bouncy ball or hit a tennis ball with a racket for your dog to fetch. You can also try playing these games in hilly areas where your dog will have to expend a little bit of extra effort.
Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise that will get your dog moving. Most dogs love water, so they will readily engage in this type of exercise when given the opportunity. If your dog needs a little encouragement to get into the water the first few times, try throwing a ball or a toy.
6.) Creative Exercise
In addition to the options listed above there are plenty of other options for creative exercise. For example, you might try training your dog to catch a Frisbee which will give you a chance to combine periods of play with exercise. Another great option is to take your dog with you on a bike ride – you can hold his leash so that he runs behind you on the bike. This will enable you to take your dog for much longer walks/runs than you might otherwise be able to.