There’s nothing your dog likes more than spending time with you. Pair that with your dog’s need for exercise, since our pets can be overweight just like humans, and playtime is a great way to bond as well as keep you and your dog in shape. I enjoy taking long walks or jogging around the block or park with my hyper Boxer mix, but sometimes we like to switch things up and do something a little more creative. Here are a few options of different exercises you can do with your pet to stay in shape, and burn your pup’s energy.
Photo credit: sombraala
Play Fetch Games
Channel your dog’s natural energy for chasing things by playing a game of fetch. Whether you’re in your backyard or the local park, you can throw a ball or frisbee. While you’ll be working your arm muscles, your dog will be running around. Mix things up even more by running to another part of the yard with the frisbee before throwing it again for your pooch. Alternatively, if your dog is a breed that loves water, visit a local dog-friendly lake, where you can play fetch with your dog in the water.
Amp Up Your Exercise Routine
Do your usual exercise routine, but find ways to include your dog. For one, after you do a set of pushups, take a break and get Fido to do his own set of pushups by giving him the command to “lay down” and then “stand” repeatedly. Take turns until you’re on to your next exercise, such as squats. To do squats, grab one of his favorite toys and ask him to stand in front of you. When you squat, bring the toy down and gently tap him on his head. When you stand up again, lift the toy to get the dog to stand on his hind legs or jump. For smaller breeds, you can also toss the toy in the air as a way to encourage them to jump.
Yoga isn’t just for humans anymore. Some studios and instructors are now offering doga, which is yoga for you and your pooch. While a tad controversial, the people who participate love the experience because it’s both an exercise using the natural added weight of the dog, as well as a chance to bond. Massage can also be used, in addition to gentle stretching for both the dog and their owners. After all, isn’t the downward dog pose named after the way many dogs ask to play?
Enroll Your Pooch in Agility Training
Any kind of training is good mental stimulation for your dog, but agility training will have them exercising as well. As you and a trainer teach your dog to go through an obstacle course — including running up inclines, winding around poles and jumping over hurdles — you’ll both be getting a high energy workout. Once you have your dog trained on some of these obstacles, you can even create an obstacle course all your own in the backyard. Perhaps put orange cones out for your dog to run around, and used construction equipment toys for your dog to jump over.
In addition to agility training, there are other sports that you and your pooch can participate in too. Perhaps enroll your dog in a tracking or herding class. Flyball is also growing in popularity, as it combines obstacle courses with racing.
Find Dog-Friendly Events in Your Area
Many cities host events where they encourage you to bring your pets. In Georgia, they host a Run with the Dogs 5K; This event is not only great exercise but a wonderful way to socialize your dog too. Check and see if there are any similar events in your area. Another alternative is to join a local holiday parade and have your dog walk with you, whether he’s wearing a costume or not!
While your dog will always appreciate a walk around the block, there’s other ways to keep you — and him — motivated while staying fit. Sure some of these ideas, especially ones that involve training, may require a few treats to get him to do what you want, but the exercise he’ll get at the same time will surely outweigh the small amount of calories he’ll be eating.
Michelle Rebecca is an aspiring writer, blogger, and new mama to a 1-year-old boxer mix rescue. She has a passion for the Internet, and loves how it connects people across the globe. She loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.