Dogs need regular exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight, keep their immune system strong, build muscle, burn energy and prevent boredom. Most owners take their dogs for a walk one to two times a day, but this can get boring and repetitive over time.
Fortunately, there are tons of other activities you can do with your dog to provide it with both exercise and lots of fun! Not all forms of exercise are safe to do with dogs, but many can be done successfully to give your dog new experiences and keep things fresh.
Try these fun forms of exercise to give your dog and yourself a good workout!
Similar to walking but a bit more intense, running is a great form of exercise for your dog. Runs give your dog the opportunity to go faster, use more energy and get a little more excited than they do on their daily walks.
The benefit to running with your dog is that it can help you keep up the pace! Dogs tend to have lots of energy and won’t let you slack if you start lagging behind.
If you take your dog running, make sure to give it breaks so it has adequate time to cool off, since dogs don’t sweat like humans do. Avoid running on very hot and humid days and pay attention to your dog’s behavior to know if it’s time to head home.
Hiking puts a new spin on your average, everyday walk by introducing your dog to new locations with different sights, sounds and challenges. If you live near a place that’s a little more adventurous, like the mountains, bring your dog along for easy to medium-difficulty hikes!
With rocks and logs to scramble over, your dog will be able to use muscles and parts of its body it normally doesn’t, helping to strengthen its body from head to toe. And, it will get lots of mental stimulation from all the new things to smell and explore in the woods!
When taking your dog hiking, make sure it is adequately protected against fleas, ticks, heartworms and other insects or parasites. Wooded areas, in particular, are notorious for hiding insects that could sting your pup during your adventures.
Have a pool you don’t use as often as you’d like? Skip the daily walks and go for a swim with your pooch, instead! Swimming is a fantastic low-impact, endurance-improving exercise for humans and dogs, and many dogs love to splash around in the water.
If your dog isn’t a skilled swimmer, take it slow and teach it how to enter and exit the pool safely and how to swim. Once it feels comfortable in the water, you can keep your pup active by playing fetch-style games with pool toys and swimming laps alongside it.
You can also swim with your dog in natural bodies of water like lakes, but be cautious of water that has blue-green algae or water that has strong currents so your dog doesn’t get sick or injured.
Cycling or rollerblading
If you’re the adventurous type, you might even want to try rollerblading or cycling with your pup. Both of these activities allow your dog to really get a good run in and expend tons of energy, so they’re perfect for high-energy dogs. However, both activities also require a lot of control over your pup, so it’s not a good idea to do them if your dog is untrained.
If you go cycling or rollerblading with your dog, make sure your skills are good enough to be able to navigate safely. Additionally, make sure to keep good control of your dog’s leash so it doesn’t get tangled in wheels and watch out for other people on the road or sidewalk (or go where there are few people around, just to be safe!).
Fetch and frisbee
If you don’t have a ton of time to get out and about, another option is to find an open patch of grass and play an intense game of fetch with a frisbee or ball. Dogs love fetch because it allows them to chase after moving objects and run around.
If you want to get in on the workout, too, chase the ball or frisbee alongside your dog! This gives you a chance to stay active and engage your dog even more.
Remember to stay safe!
When implementing new exercises and activities into your dog’s routine, remember to pay attention to any health considerations your dog has, such as arthritis or allergies. You may need to skip some activities like hiking if your dog has trouble clamoring over rocks, or running if you dog needs more low-impact exercises for its joints.
If you’re unsure, call your veterinarian and discuss the new exercises with them to ensure they’ll be safe for your pet. As long as you watch out for your furry friend and use preventative care, you and your pup should be able to enjoy a wide range of activities together!