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Exercises and Activities to Keep Your Pup Fit

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Most dogs love physical activity, and exercise is just as important for their mental and physical health as it is for ours. Staying active will help your dog live a longer, happier life and prevent obesity, which is a common issue for dogs. Not only that but dogs who are bored and don’t get enough exercise often develop behavior issues. Here’s a look at some fun exercises and activities to keep your pup fit and how to know if he’s getting enough exercise each day.

Ways to Keep Your Dog Fit:

Taking your dog for an evening walk is a great place to start, and that might be all your dog needs if he’s a senior with lower exercise needs. But keep in mind that even the most dedicated couch potato will appreciate some variety every now and then! Here are some fun exercises and activities to incorporate into your pup’s regular routine.

Cycling

Cycling is a fun way to exercise with your dog, especially if you have a bike path nearby where you can get away from dangerous traffic. Puppies shouldn’t run until their joints are developed, but many adult dogs will love to run alongside their owners while they ride, especially if they’re high energy. Of course, if your dog is a senior or has joint issues, this probably isn’t the activity for him.

Swimming

If there’s one thing many dogs love more than going for a walk, it’s swimming. Dogs love the water and it’s a fantastic way to burn off some of that pent-up energy when the weather is hot. It’s also a low impact, so it’s safe for dogs with joint issues. A doggie life vest eliminates any worry of your dog staying afloat if you’re not sure about his swimming abilities.

Draft Work

Many large breed dogs love draft work, and it isn’t just for sled dogs. Whether it’s pulling a sled, cart, or skijoring, your dog will get plenty of exercises and you’ll have a blast too.

Dog Sports

You may not know it, but there are actually a ton of dog sports the two of you can get involved in. Agility, scent work, flyball, dock diving, and Rally are just a few options to check out.

Hiking

You already know that dogs love to be outside, and if you do too, hiking is the perfect fit for both of you. He’ll love joining you on various adventures to explore all the trails and parks in your area.

Rollerblading

If you’re an experienced rollerblader, why not introduce your dog to the fun? Just be sure to wear the appropriate safety gear and skate in an enclosed area while you train him.

Fetch

If you think fetch is boring, it doesn’t have to be. You can change up the routine by tossing a frisbee or soft flying disk instead of a ball. Or, toss the ball uphill or into the water to liven things up.

Obedience Practice 

Obedience practice might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to exercise for your dog, but it’s actually a great way to provide both mental and physical stimulation. You can practice retrieving and recall or teach your dog a fun trick like twirling or weaving.

What if it’s Too Cold or Wet to Exercise Outdoors?

Cold, wet days make it tough to head outdoors, but your pup still needs exercise to stay mentally and physically fit. Here are some indoor exercises you and your pup can do when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a fun way to get your pup moving indoors and you can switch things up by adding in a game of chase to liven things up.

Treadmill

If you’ve got a high-energy pup, a treadmill can be a real lifesaver when you can’t exercise outdoors. Some training will be required, but many dogs love this type of workout occasionally.

Living Room Agility

While a large outdoor or indoor agility course is ideal, you and your pup can have a lot of fun with a homemade agility course right at home. Hula hoops boxes, broom handles, and footstools all make excellent props. And, if you’ve got kids that are stuck indoors, living room agility with your pup will surely wear them out, too! If your dog loves it, consider looking for an agility course in your area. 

Puzzle Toys

Treat dispensing puzzle toys are a great way to keep a bored dog busy inside. They may not provide as much exercise as a game of fetch, but they’re still a great way to tire your dog out and provide mental stimulation when you’re stuck in the house… or while you’re at work.

How much exercise do dogs need to stay fit?

So, how much exercise does your dog need every day to stay fit? 

Well, it’s going to vary a lot based on his breed, age, and overall health. Here are some basic guidelines you can follow, but it’s always a good idea to check with your vet before making any drastic changes in your pup’s exercise routine.

Puppies

Puppies are full of pent up energy. They tend to go at top speed until they collapse, and if you can’t get them outside, they’ll just run laps around the house. Although they have more energy, they tend to wear out quickly since they’re still growing, which also requires tons of energy.


Keep in mind that puppies shouldn’t jog or run with their owners until their joints and muscles are fully developed. For most breeds, you should hold off on activities that require a lot of running until your puppy is at least six months old. Large and giant breeds may need even longer, so check with your vet before you start running with a puppy, just to be safe.

Provide your puppy with several short activity sessions throughout the day as one long session is usually too much for their developing bodies. Just keep in mind that every puppy is different, so pay attention to his body language. If he seems worn out, stop. If he’s full of energy, keep going.

Adult Dogs

The amount of exercise an adult dog needs will depend a lot on his breed. For example, border collies and golden retrievers tend to be high energy, while basset hounds and bulldogs are much more low energy. Small dogs tend to have tons of energy, so size shouldn’t be the determining factor. Once again, it’s best to take your cues from your dog’s body language


You’ll also want to take your pup’s health into consideration. Does he have any cardiovascular, respiratory, or joint issues? If so, take things slow and talk to your vet to determine how much exercise he needs to stay healthy without causing pain or discomfort.

Senior Dogs

Senior dogs might not be as active as they once were, but they still need some exercise for mental and physical fitness. Seniors often do better with a few short, low-intensity workouts throughout the day, rather than one long one. Watch him carefully and stop when he’s tired and use your own judgment to decide what he can comfortably handle.



Final Thoughts

Keeping your puppy active and fit doesn’t have to be a chore. It can actually be a lot of fun for both of you. There’s an activity that will for just about every dog, no matter his size, age, or fitness level. Just remember to adjust the speed, length, and intensity of the exercise based on his cues and you’ll be good to go.


Nicole McCray
Nicole McCray
About the Author
Nicole McCray Personal Website

Nicole is a die-hard animal lover who has worked in pet care for years. She is a former vet technician, a dog mom to her two rescue pups, and she grew up living and working at her family's pet boarding facility. She loves using her writing talents to share the insight she's learned throughout her career in the hopes that her knowledge can help other pet parents out there!

October 30, 2020

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