Daily physical activity is important to keep your dog healthy and strong. Thanks to busy work schedules, inclement weather or other delays, it isn’t always possible to get outside for a walk or run with your dog. In order to help your canine friend get the exercise he or she needs to remain lively and in good shape, you’ll need to be a little creative about the ways you get moving with your pet–especially when going outside isn’t an option. Need exercise tips for your dog? Read on for helpful ideas to keep your dog active no matter the season.
Exercise and Your Dog
Exercise isn’t just a bonus activity for dogs. Regular movement can help your dog to keep their joints and muscles strong, blow off mental steam, fight boredom, ward off illness and prevent long-term diseases. More than half of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, which can increase the risk for the development of heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney problems and reduced life expectancy for these pets. Canine fitness, whether you already take your pet for daily walks and have begun to research an inground pool cost for added exercise options or you have a new puppy who needs a brand new exercise routine, can go a long way in reducing many health and behavioral problems for your dog. Dogs who get enough exercise are less likely to feel bored and get into things they’re not supposed to, and more likely to feel fulfilled, balanced and healthy.
Dog Breeds and Their Needs
Your dog’s breed will dictate just how much and what sorts of exercise activities they need to maintain their fitness.
Sheepdogs, collies and shepherds all do well in a farm setting as these are dog breeds with high mental and physical energy levels. Herding dogs love to have jobs and tasks to do, which makes them easier to train than some other dog breeds. This also means they need up to two hours of exercise per day, but one hour of vigorous movement is enough to keep them healthy.
Popular with hunters and outdoorsy pet owners, sporting dogs such as retrievers, spaniels, setters and pointers are energetic and playful breeds. These family-friendly dogs have a lot of stamina and vigor, so they do best with 60 to 120 minutes of high-energy exercise every day.
Dogs such as boxers, huskies, water dogs, mountain dogs, pinschers, rottweilers and dobermans were bred for jobs such as pulling sleds and carts, tracking and search tasks, rescue missions and guard dog roles. Working dogs need moderate exercise in hour to two hour sessions per day, but should avoid running and high-energy activities as these breeds are less likely to demonstrate weakness or fatigue than other breeds–even if they really are uncomfortable.
Bassets, foxhounds, beatles, bloodhounds and other floppy-eared dogs love to run and chase toys and scents, which makes long-distance walks and hikes a great exercise option for these breeds. Scent Hounds need up to 90 minutes of exercise everyday, but an hour of moderate to intense physical activity is sufficient.
This dog breed loves to dig, chase and hunt small game, toys and even playfully attack their owners or fellow pets. If you have adopted a terrier such as an Australian, Irish, Jack Russell, Scottish, Yorkshire, Border or Bull Terrier, it’s best to ensure they get 60-90 minutes of exercise per day, with at least half an hour of intense or vigorous movement.
Bred for speed, greyhounds, wolfhounds, deerhounds, whippets and salukis do best with moderate exercise. Though they don’t need as much exercise as other hound breeds, they do need to be able to run for about 30-45 minutes per day. It’s best to find an enclosed area in which they can run in short, quick bursts to expend their chasing energy.
Pugs and Bulldogs
Because their noses are short or flat, brachycephalic dogs such as pugs and bull breeds have a harder time breathing than other dogs. Simpler exercises such as short walks and some indoor play can prevent overheating or exhaustion, and should last for about 30 minutes per day.
Small and energetic, toy breeds are great for dog owners who live in small apartments or who don’t have large yards to exercise their pets. It’s simple to exercise these small dogs indoors, as they don’t need a ton of space to get moving. Chihuahuas, Maltese, Pomeranians, Yorkies and Pekinese dogs need between 30 and 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
Large dogs, including Newfoundlands, Bullmastiffs, Malamutes, Saint Bernards and Great Danes, are known to have joint problems–especially as they age. While some of these dogs have a lot of energy, they generally do well with 30-45 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
Seasonal Exercise Ideas
It may be tempting to sit back and try to avoid burning calories when it gets chilly out, but daily exercise is still crucial during the colder months of the year to avoid the health and behavioral problems that accompany a sedentary lifestyle. Fortunately, there are many things you can do with your dog no matter the weather to keep active and healthy.
They say there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. While this may be true for you, it’s a lot harder to take your dog out in the cold and snow knowing they will track their muddy paws on the carpet when you get back home. To maintain your walk schedule when it gets wet outside, purchase the right gear to keep you and your pet warm and dry, such as ponchos, dog boots, paw wipes or jackets.
Tap into your dogs hunting instincts with a game of chase inside or outside of the house. Choose a safe space, and be certain that your dog knows that it’s just a game, and play a structured round of chase around the house. Run away from your dog and encourage him or her to chase you, reinforcing the “catch” with a treat or extra affection.
3. Stair Fetch
If you have a flight of stairs in your home, and your dog has healthy joints and muscles, you can play a quick game of fetch with your pet by throwing a toy or treat at the top or bottom of the stairs for them to run and fetch for you.
4. Flirt Poles
Not unlike cat poles, dog flirt poles have a chaseable toy on the end of a stick that you can control to encourage your dog to use their instincts to pursue and catch the “prey.” Just be sure to let your dog catch the toy every so often to encourage his or her interest in the game.
5. Hide and Seek
Dogs and children alike enjoy this classic game in which you hide and give your dog a command to come find you. This is a great way to get moving inside of your home, and you can even carry a handful of treats to give your dog a big reward when he or she finally seeks you.
6. Tug of War with other pups (not people)
A rope or tug toy is perfect for those who want their dog to bond with their dog while getting some much needed exercise. Your dog simply grabs onto one side of the toy with their jaws while another dog holds the other and tug back and forth. As with other games, make sure to make sure the pups are equal on size and strength so he or she doesn’t get discouraged or bored.
7. Treat Balls
For both mental and physical stimulation, treat toys and balls are excellent options for home play that will challenge your dog’s body and mind at the same time. Toys such as treat dispensing balls, puzzle toys, durable rubber training toys and other devices can be thrown in a game of fetch, used with peanut butter or other spreads or filled with small treats that your dog has to dispense themselves through various calculated movements.
8. Laser Pointer
On days when your dog needs exercise but you can barely be bothered to get up off the couch, a laser pointer can help both of you to get what you need in the comfort of your own home. Clear a safe space and grab the pointer, as well as a few treats, to allow your dog to trigger his or her prey-chasing instincts. Point the laser over strategically placed treats as a tasty reward from time to time.
9. Ball Launcher
From manual ball launchers suitable for outside to programmable devices that can be used indoors, these toys are great for breeds who need to run and chase as part of their daily exercise schedule.
10. Exercise Videos
Workout routines aren’t just for people. Queue up a dog-friendly exercise video by searching online for ones you can do at home with your pooch. The vast majority of these videos also encourage quality time between you and your dog, so both of you can get moving together while keeping your physiques, and your relationship, in great shape.
photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/Tbf7H8d2YcU
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