It’s important to make sure that your pooch gets enough exercise. Not only does it keep his or her weight in check, but it also burns excess energy, is great for joints, and stimulates your pup’s mind. There are plenty of ways to do it, so you can bond with your best friend and even get a workout for yourself. Here are seven great ways to exercise with your dog.
1. Walking or Hiking
We all need to get out and about more often, especially as so much of our time is spent indoors and in front of a computer screen. Luckily, pets make the best workout buddies and walking your dog is one of the simplest ways to exercise and get some fresh air. Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll or a more adventurous hike, there are plenty of places you can go. Walkhaven Dog Park in Muldersdrift, Gauteng, is a massive and secure area offering a place to run, walk, and have the best time with your pup.
Depending on the age and physical condition of your pet, walking may be the best way to work out. However, if you are both up for more of a challenge, hiking is a great way to get outside in nature and do something fulfilling. Begin with short, less intense hikes and work your way up. Also, make sure you have a decent lead or harness, water for both of you, a first aid kit, a poop bag, and that your dog is tagged before you set off.
Swimming is a great form of exercise for dogs because it’s a low impact and rehabilitative sport. If your dog is old, injured, or prone to injury, find a doggy aquatic or hydrotherapy centre near you. TALA Animal Rehabilitation and Hydrotherapy in Pretoria offers a number of services for pre- and post-operative patients, including weight loss programs, pool sessions, core strengthening, and wound treatment.
Otherwise, swimming with your dog in your own pool (or the sea, or a nearby dam) is a great way to let your dog burn some energy. Just keep your dog’s age and capabilities in mind at all times as water can be dangerous.
If you let him, Fido will be the best running partner you could ask for. Dogs are creatures of habit so once your pooch is into a routine, it will be tricky to skip your afternoon jog. For a successful run with your pet, keep these tips in mind:
- Gradually increase your running intensity from a walk to a run that your pet can handle.
- Dogs don’t sweat like humans do, so be careful in intense heat or humidity.
- Carry enough water for both of you.
- Be mindful of your dog’s breed and age. As adorable as they are, flat-faced breeds (like pugs) have more difficulty breathing, so its best to keep runs short and sweet.
- If you’re running in the road, keep your dog on a short leash and out of the traffic.
- Be aware of cars, other people and other dogs at all times.
- Make time for sniffing and exploring – these are crucial ‘doggy’ habits.
If you’re unsure, speak to your vet about your pet’s unique circumstances. Running is a great way for you to spend time together and stay in shape.
Cycling with your pet is the ideal exercise for dogs with too much energy as it gives them an opportunity to run flat out. It can also help dogs with aggression or anxiety to relax as aerobic exercise produces serotonin. If you’d like to try cycling alongside your pup, be aware of the following:
- Spend some time getting your dog accustomed to the idea by walking on one side of the bike with your dog on the other.
- Keep checking on your furry friend. If he or she looks tired, stop and take a break.
- Make sure you have a safe, hands-free attachment for your bike — one with a quick release in case of emergency.
- Always wear a cycling helmet.
It sounds simple but playing with your dog is a great way to exercise and connect with him or her. It’s also essential to your pet’s health and happiness. Play can involve movement (chasing or running), throwing and fetching, or playing with other pets. Invest in a few toys that encourage exercise from early on and get your pup used to them. Balls, chew toys, launch sticks (for playing ‘fetch’), and frisbees are all great examples.
6. Play Groups
Allowing your dog to socialize is an essential aspect of his or her learning. It’s through playing and being around others that dogs learn how to communicate and cooperate with one another, which is why it’s crucial to do this from their puppy years. If you don’t have other pets, think about signing up your pooch for play dates. Whether it’s a group of your friends and their pets or a formal ‘play group’ in your area, it’s a great way for your dog to get a healthy dose of exercise.
7. Agility Training
If you want to try something different, sign your dog up for agility training. It takes fitness to the next level and combines exercise and socialising in one! Speak to your local vet or a nearby dog training school to find out what kind of training groups are available in your area and what level your pet is at. It’s high energy training that gives you and your dog a chance to meet like-minded dogs and their pet parents. Spot will certainly thank you for it! Alternatively, set up a home-made obstacle course in your garden using things you have lying around. It will keep you both busy for hours.
By Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst