It’s time to get physical!
Love it or hate it, exercise is just as important for your dog as it is for you.
If you’re like me, you exercise to stay strong and flexible but most importantly to be able to do the things you want to do. Right?
As a portrait photographer, it’s important to me that I can easily carry my gear plus have the energy needed to keep up with kids and dogs. So, strength and cardio exercises are both part of my routine.
Fortunately, we humans live in a world that provides us with plenty of instructors, exercises, and equipment so we can choose the combination that works best for us.
But, what about our dogs?
Check out the following suggestions for doggy exercises that you can add to your daily routine.
Work at your dog’s pace
Moderation is key. When working on fitness with your dog, pick activities that match their level of fitness, and allow them to stop when they’ve had enough for that session. They will slowly improve over time.
If your dog is done for the day, let them be done, so they continue to enjoy – not dread – their fitness sessions. If it’s clear your dog doesn’t enjoy or is uncomfortable with one of the suggested exercises below, like scary-looking stairs, choose another they enjoy.
Too much exercise can also cause problems, like sore muscles, wear-and-tear on paw pads, joint issues, heat sickness, and your dog could begin to dread rather than enjoy their play sessions with you.
Some ‘eager-to-please-you’ dogs may keep chasing that ball as long as you continue to throw it, so keep initial fitness sessions short and watch for signs of fatigue. You may need to be the one who says, “Time’s up!”
6 Simple & Fun Exercises for Canine Fitness
The following exercises are probably quite different from how you normally play with your dog.
Remember that going for daily walks and other simple activities are also great ways to help your dog stay fit.
1. Up and down stairs. If you don’t have stairs in your home, look around your neighborhood and see where you can have some safe, outside, stair-training fun.
2. Sit to stand. Getting up and down doesn’t seem like much exercise until you do it repeatedly. Standing up and sitting back down 5 or more times in a row may be the perfect start to strengthening your dog’s back legs and hips.
Don’t forget to reward them with praise so they know they are correctly responding to your repeated cues.
3. Down to stand. This is a near canine equivalent of the human burpee, which are super effective. It’s a full body workout for Fido!
4. Walk, sprint, walk. I like to think of this as canine interval training for energetic pups and people. I like this exercise because both myself and my 2 pups get a workout.
The one thing I like to keep in mind with this exercise is the importance of always going at the pace of the slowest family member. Yes, that’s usually me.
Oh, please please please test the temperature of the pavement first. Our Texas summers get mighty hot!
5. Fetch. Who doesn’t love watching their dog run back to you over and over, with fun and love in their eyes? Some dogs feel compelled to chase a thrown toy even when they are tired, so don’t overdo this if you can see your pup is getting pooped.
Our previous fur baby Sydney loved fetching sticks thrown in the pond. We learned quickly that we doggie parents needed to pay attention and call time out after a few throws.
6. Teaching something new. Teaching your dog new tricks or standard good-citizen and safety skills like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “come,” and loose-leash walking, keeps them both physically and mentally stimulated.
Does your dog know these basic commands yet?
Need more ideas? Check out this article.
Remember, when you’re looking for ways to improve your pet’s health, always double-check advice you find online – even mine! – with your veterinarian or an expert source like the Pet Health Network.