5 Ways to Exercise Your Dog
Spring has sprung! Hopefully, the weather is started to get warmer, and stay warmer so we can all enjoy the wonderful weather. With the weather warming up, you are not the only one who is wanted to enjoy the warmer weather. Chances are, your puppy is so sick of being inside and just wants to run and enjoy the fresh outdoors.
Which for some of you is great! If you have a big fenced in backyard, that is. However, if you like a vast majority of people, you either don’t have a huge backyard, your puppy isn’t trained to stay only in the yard and not run away, or you don’t have a backyard at all!
So how does your puppy get exercise? Right now, they don’t! Or if they do, probably very little. But exercise is so important for a dog’s well-being and overall health that it is important to find a way to work in exercise. So today, I wanted to talk about five different ways you can give your dog exercise, some of them you can even do all year around! (I mean technically you can do them all year-around, but some people are braver than others).
Seriously Paige?! Walks are a way to exercise your dog? C’mon that’s like dog training 101. If you are saying that, you would be correct. It is the hope that everyone knows one way to exercise your dog is to take them on walks.
However, many people don’t understand the importance of walking your dog. Not only is it a way for them to go to the bathroom, but to start the training process for you two.
If you can train your dog to walk correctly on a leash, you will start the process of training your dog to be obedient. This will make walks more efficient for you both. Your puppy won’t be pulling you along trying to smell every object, person, and dog it passes. Training your dog to walk properly on a leash will allow him or her to be relaxed while walking. In turn, this relaxed behavior will allow you two to walk longer and farther which also allows your dog to see more of the world.
Walking farther also does the obvious statement as well, exercises your dog more. A leash-trained, healthy dog can walk for easily twenty minutes without being tired. That’s a mile. If you and your dog walk a mile every day in addition to bathroom walks, think about how much healthier of a life you both will live in just twenty minutes.
See, I had a point there! Walks are a great way to exercise your dog. But first, leash-train them! Otherwise, you will be experience twenty minutes of pulling, twenty minutes of “choking” by your dog, exhaustion on your end, and a still hyper dog afterward. So don’t count me out just yet!
Running, walking but faster. Kidding of course! But if you are on your way to getting healthy, want to exercise, and are worried about finding the time to exercise your dog too; exercise WITH your dog. Again, this should only be done if your dog is leash-trained.
I remember when I was younger, I tried to “run” with my puppy who was horrible on a leash. I was also a horrible runner let’s just add. The “run” lasted about 5 minutes because we soon as I started running, the dog started SPRINTING, dragging me along. The drag/run was much faster of a pace than I was able to do so had to stop after five minutes. The puppy was annoyed, and I did not get a good workout in. (And I probably looked like an idiot to all of my neighbors).
But if your dog is leash-training, running is a great way to really wear out an active dog, and help get yourself in shape. This doesn’t have to be an hour long, 10-mile run. Even just running a half mile and walking a half mile will help wear your dog out more than nothing.
A lot of dog breeds enjoy running and will look forward to a run, and if they are not in the best shape either, then you have a training partner. You two can build up to running more often together. It’s like your own personal accountability buddy, who never cheats because they don’t know what that means.
And while this is not something most people will want to do in the dead of winter, this is a great option for fall, summer and even springtime. (Again, there will be some people who enjoy running in winter. Your active dogs are going to love you! But the rest of us can find plenty of other ways to exercise our puppies, don’t worry!).
Okay, fine. Those first two were pretty easy. You are probably skimming this, yes skimming I know you guys don’t read every single word, thinking man, I am a dog expert! Well here’s where I add the new stuff.
Let’s say that running sounds like torture for you, and taking long walks is not the easiest for you and your dog to do together. Fear not, there are still plenty of ways for your dog to get exercise. One of the best ways for dogs to get exercise without having to involve yourself is through other dogs. I would think it similar to a playdate with toddlers.
You love your child more than life itself, but sometimes you just would rather them socialize while you sit from the sidelines. That’s perfectly okay. The same is true for dogs. Sometimes, you want your dog to be healthy and socialize with other dogs without having to involve you.
That is where dog parks can come in. They are the dog equivalent to playgrounds. Your pup can run around with other dogs, wear him or herself out, become more social, and you can sit on the bench. Now, each dog park is different and has different rules. Some allow you to bring in toys and play interactively with your dogs, so only allow dogs. It is important to research which dog parks are near you and what their rules requirements are.
Dog parks are amazing because not only do they exercise your dog physically but also socially. Your pup will have a chance to be to interact with all different dog personalities and dog breeds. They will be a better well-rounded dog. And for you, your pup will have had so much mental and physical stimulation that they will be so tired when they get home.
Sleepy puppy, relaxed parents, happy home.
Doggy Day Care
Let’s say that you work long hours, are on your feet all day and the idea of walking even more, or even going to a dog park after a long day just exhausts you. You know that it is not fair to your puppy and they don’t understand that they don’t get exercised just because you had a hard day.
They come to you, tail wagging and excited. You look defeated and begrudgingly take him or her on a short walk, come inside and claim your place on the couch yet again. Your dog has not burned up any energy from that short walk and wants to play. They become frustrated and misbehave because they want to run! Play! Something! And again, you feel horrible but drained
Listen, I know! I get it! Trust me. There are many nights when I come home and I am so tired I could fall asleep right then and there. I don’t want to socialize with people, I don’t even want to move. Luckily for me, I have cats who require less exercise but my point is I feel your pain.
So, what can you do? More and more there are these centers that are popping up everywhere that are called ‘doggy daycares’, or some other similar phrasing. What are doggy daycares? They are just what they sound like. They are day care centers for your dog. What a lot of busy people do is they will take their dogs to doggy daycare on their way to work, and pick them up afterward. Pretty similar to childcare.
These places do not just take a single dog. In fact, they take a large number of dogs. And best of all, they don’t just kennel your dog for the day! No, the dogs normally get a big fenced in yard that they can run, play, and social with other dogs.
If you think about it, it’s like a centralized dog park that you don’t have to watch your dog! It’s a win-win situation. Your dog gets socialized with a large number of other dogs, gets exercise and mental stimulation, and you don’t feel as guilty about working.
Let’s play that same initial scenario out again, but this time with doggy daycare. You drop your puppy off at daycare on a day you know will be especially long and tiring. After work, you’re exhausted. You go and pick up your energetic puppy from daycare only to get a very mellow dog return in their place. Why? Because they spent the past 8, give or take, hours running around with other dogs. They’re exhausted too!
So you two exhausted pups head home, both sit on your couch after a long tiring day and cuddle while catching up on your favorite shows. You’re both happy, no guilt, and most importantly, no misbehaving dog.
My one call-out I do want to do for doggy daycare so you don’t think it is the magic cure for all pet exercise is, it can be expensive. Think of it similar to child care. Anyone with kids known how much childcare costs to take them every day. Now, a puppy won’t be as much as childcare, but studies have said that they are slowly becoming comparable in costs.
I also recommend taking your puppy to doggy daycare on days when you know you will be especially tired and worn out. Visiting doggy daycare should be almost like a treat and a prize for them. That way, you don’t completely break the bank but your dog doesn’t have to go without exercise on your exceptionally long days.
Toys, All the Toys
My last way to exercise your dog is by using toys. Let’s say you have a medium to small dog. You hate going outside except to let them use the restrooms and money is not raining from the ceilings right now for you. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up the idea of owning a dog, or give your dog up for adoption.
It just means you need to be creative. Nowadays there are so many interactive dog toys, especially on Amazon, that you can get to play with your puppy in your own home. My personal favorite is this toy because it is multi-fuctional, but I usually recommend people going based on their dog’s behavior. You know your dog best.
Do you think they will like lasers, like these? (My mom’s dog is OBSESSED with lasers, so don’t count those as cat-only toys people). What about interactive toys, like this option? Or even tug of war toys like this? All of these will get your dog moving, keep them active and happy without destroying your home.
The reason that I usually recommend people use toys for small to medium size dogs only is that there is really only so much a large dog can run inside and still be happy. They are large, duh! Large dogs mean large amounts of energy. You can play with them for an hour straight with a toy, go to make dinner only to realize that they are still ready for some more playtime.
Large dogs usually need outside time to play and exercise. But this is not to say that they can play with toys too! They probably love toys. And while they are outside, you could always combine the two if you have a yard. Play fetch with your pup with this toy. There are even some fancy ones that will launch the ball for you, like this, though they may be on the pricer end of the toy spectrum.
Your puppy is unique and not one-size fits all dog. Which means, their exercise plan is not going to be a one-size cookie cutter decision. Some dogs love walks, some love playing with other dogs, and some are perfectly content chasing a laser inside for 10 minutes and crashing afterward.
Regardless of how you choose to exercise your dog, just the fact that you are trying to keep them active, healthy and stimulated is going to set them up for a better life. Animals need stimulation, just like people, and by you giving it to them you are positioning to be the best dog possible. In the “hip terms” that many will hate me afterward, let your dog “live their best life”. Yeah, I kind of hate myself afterward too! But nonetheless, it is true. Puppy dog, you live your best life boo.