We know how important it is to be active and make some kind of attempt at semi-regular exercise, and we know this is also extremely important for our dogs too. If you find that it is difficult to make time to get your own butt to the gym and as a result it’s nearly impossible to also exercise your dog, you should consider combining these efforts for both you and your dog! Remember, your dog will play off of your energy and habits, so if you tend towards the couch potato side, they will too. While we can make a concerted effort to lose weight or get more active, our dogs rely on us to help them do so (that is unless your dog has learned how to work the treadmill like this little guy). According to 2014 figures from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, around 52 percent of American dogs are overweight: Like people, overweight dogs are more likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Luckily, all of these diseases can be avoided (by both you and your pup) by taking 20 to 30 minutes a day to get your sweat on. No matter the season, the weather, or where you live, you’re bound to enjoy these 11 fabulous suggestions to help get you started.
1. Play Fetch
Teach your dog to play fetch or frisbee! This old tried-and-true form of fun obviously gives your dog a workout but have you stopped to think about what it does for you? Every time you throw the ball you’re working out your arms and building endurance. If your dog doesn’t quite have the gist of the game yet, you’re likely doing a lot of the fetching yourself.
2. Play Soccer
Dogs don’t have to be limited to tennis balls, though they do love a nice bounce of fuzzy yellow ball, don’t they? You can also play soccer with your pup! While you might not be running as much as the pros who average nine miles a game, you’re going to be in for a great cardio session. Plus, once your pup is interested in the ball, they won’t take their eyes off it.
3. Doggie Dash
Most dogs can’t go for long runs without proper conditioning but they all love a good race! Go for a quick run around the backyard or across it from fence to fence. Your dog will likely win but they promise not to let it go to their head, as long as you make an attempt to keep up. If they have the stamina, slowly work up to a jog around the block. Just make sure to keep your pup hydrated (and yourself too!) and pay close attention to make sure you’re not asking too much of them. Remember, dogs don’t sweat like people do so they are more likely to overheat.
4. Walk Together
If running is out of your dog’s league for now, just go for a walk. But don’t think of it as taking the dog for a walk, just think of it as two friends going for a stroll, enjoying time together, and just enjoying life. Not only is walking good cardio but it is also great for improving your mood. Walking is just a healthy thing to do, so why not enjoy it with your best friend?
5. Take a Hike!
If you enjoy walking with your dog but find it to be a little too ordinary, try hiking! Most cities have plenty of hiking trails you can enjoy together. You can change up the scenery and your dog will have lots of new smells to explore. To get started, check out these quick tips to ensure a safe hike with your pup.
6. Go Camping
Take the hike one step further and set up a campsite. Take your pooch into the woods to help you find wood for a fire – just make sure he only tries to carry the kindling. Also, before you hit the great outdoors, read up on this guide of common plants that might be poisonous for dogs to avoid any health scares. As always, be sure to keep your pup on a leash when out in a new environment – especially one that’s filled with some many exciting new smells.
7. A Day at the Beach
Nothing says fun in the sun like a day at the beach. With all that warm sand to run on, sticks to play with, and waves to chase, the opportunities for your dog to have a great time are endless. (Just don’t forget sunscreen!) Be mindful, not all beaches allow dogs, but check out this article to find some that do!
8. Play in the Pool
If you can’t make it to the beach, just hang out and doggie paddle around the pool. Swimming is great exercise for both of you! Then when you’re ready for a break just kick back and float around, basking in the rays. Remember, not all dogs are natural born swimmers, so keep a close watch on your pup until they get a hang of it and of course, never let them hop in the pool unsupervised!
9. Obstacle Courses
When you want to get serious about exercising with your dog, set up some obstacles in the backyard, and then teach him to run and overcome them with you! It’s great exercise and will also build their confidence!
10. Hide and Seek
Perfect for a rainy day or really just any day, a good game of hide and seek will keep you both entertained. Teach your dog to play by hiding toys or treats and you’ll never again have a dreary day filled with “nothing fun” to do. (But make sure your dog gets more into it than the pup below!)
Waving at You/Flickr
Yep, you guessed it – doga is yoga for dogs. With a focus on stretching, massage and even meditation, doga is a great way for you and your pooch to be active together. It’s easy on your muscles, your mind, and virtually any dog can do it. Doga can even help injured, obese, elderly and overly excitable dogs.
With all these choices, how in the world are you going to narrow down just one to start with? The great thing is you can try them all. See what works best for you and your dog, and go have fun!
Image source: Michael Gil/Flickr