As committed dog owners, we all know the importance of exercising our dogs minds and bodies for their well being, and so they have the best life possible. Studies have shown that exercise is a common factor in the longevity of dogs.
My friend, Rodney Habib, has done extensive research on longevity and joins me to explain in the video below.
A minimum of two hours of exercise might be a bit of a mind blow, and you are wondering how you can fit it all in! Remember that this is “on average”, and you could do less on some days and more on others. There are a lot of ways we can exercise our dogs, and below is the list of some of the things I recommended and do with my dogs, and things you want to watch for.
If your dog has led a more sedentary lifestyle, make sure you start with exercise that he can manage and build it up gradually. Before starting any specific exercise program for your dog, he should be seen by a veterinarian to ensure there are no physical limitations. If your dog has been injured, consult with a qualified canine physical therapist or rehabilitation expert about your exercise routine.
15 Ways to Exercise Your Dog
Ideally off leash and preferably in varied terrain. If your dog needs to be on a lead, use a harness that does not restrict his movement. You want a harness that allows your dog free motion in his shoulders.
When choosing where to swim your dog, be aware of Blue-Green Algae toxicity and select your water source carefully. Also, watch for the amount of water your dog might ingest when swimming if he bites at the water or grabs at toys as Water Intoxication is a risk. You might have a canine rehab or swimming facility near you where you can take your dog.
- Underwater Treadmill
Exercise on an underwater treadmill can be better for your dog than swimming. It can take some of the pressure off your dog’s joints. Check to see if there are any facilities with underwater treadmills nearby that you can visit with your dog.
- Stair Work
Your dog walking beside you up and down stairs is good for both of you! You will need to train this with your dog as his natural inclination is likely going to be to gallop up and down the stair case. For everyone who has the foundation of my RZ (Reinforcement Zone) game, you can use that for stair work. We can also use a remote feeder for an exercise game on stairs. You can play Stair Masters from Home School the Dog.
Treadmills are great for exercise, but I strongly suggest that the treadmill you use is one that is specifically for dogs. The treadmill I have for my dogs is from DogTread. I only use the treadmill with my dogs walking or trotting, alternating between the two, with more walking than trotting.
- Nose Work
You can start by hiding cookies under cushions and have your dog search for them. You can grow that and even go on to do formal Nose Work which is a dog sport. Chances are you might have a Nose Work class near you. Jane Book has a great online course “The Dog Scents” that teaches you and your dog Nose Work.
- Fitness Stations
Train and use tricks to get your dog to use his body. You can use sit, down, stand, backing up … the sky is the limit of what you can train. You can introduce fitness equipment especially for dogs. I love FitPAWS equipment and The Klimb that you see in the video, but there are many DIY options for you with things that you will have at home.
- Recallers Games
Recallers is the foundation of all we do with our dogs, from great family pet to any dog sport imaginable. The games not only create a brilliant relationship with our dogs but exercise bodies and minds too!
The best thing to use for a retrieve is something that your dog can run under and grab while it’s still in the air. You could also use a large soccer ball or similar that you can kick and have your dog bring back to you. Retrieving is fun to teach your dog, and if this is something you would like to do, visit my vlog “How to Teach a Puppy to Retrieve“.
Make sure you use an appropriate leash attachment and don’t hold your dog’s lead in your hand. Springer make an attachment you can fit to your bike for the safety of you and your dog. Have your dog on the side away from traffic, and ideally avoid traffic totally. Make sure the surface you cycle on is suitable for your dog.
- Dog Sports
There is a multitude of sports that you and your dog can enjoy together. You all know that I love training and competing in dog agility. My two online programs for agility are Handling360 and Agility Nation.
- Snowshoeing or Skijoring
These are great sports for winter if you live somewhere with snowfall. Make sure that the equipment you use is safe for your dog.
- Dog Parks
Taking your dog to a dog park might be great, or it could also be an experience you would not want your dog to have, so be cautious before letting your dog into a dog park.
- Day Care
Like dog parks, Day Care could be very beneficial or not a good experience for your dog. Do your research when choosing Doggie Day Care.
Remote feeders can help us create exercise games for our dogs. There are many brands available, and the one I use is a Pet Tutor.
What is your favourite way to exercise your dog (or cat)? Let me know in the comments!
Today I am grateful for all the research and knowledge that is available to us today about helping our dogs have a healthy and happy life.