Just like people, dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy and keeping your dog active is important for both their physical and mental health. April is Canine Fitness Month, so there’s no better time to grab your sneakers and a leash and get out there with your pup!
Benefits of Exercise
Exercise is essential to all dogs, regardless of size, age, or breed. If you’re just starting out, be sure to build up your exercise routine slowly as both you and your dog build your endurance. Some of the benefits of exercise include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight and body condition helps your dog live longer and may help prevent diabetes and weigh-related joint problems
- Check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog doesn’t have any underlying conditions prior to beginning an exercise routine and to discuss what kind and how much exercise would be beneficial to your dog
- Exercise in moderation is good for older dogs to help keep their joints and muscles intact and functional
- If your senior pup has arthritis or is recovering from an injury, you may need to shorten your exercise or make it less strenuous
- Exercise can help all dogs, but especially young dogs, reduce boredom, anxiety, and stress, which can lead to destructive or reactive behaviors
- Puppies should not exercise strenuously or for too long, otherwise they could damage their growing bones and joints
Exercising your dog can also provide you with some great benefits including:
- Strengthening your bond with your pet
- Boosting your mood and lowering your blood pressure
- Motivating you to continue to exercising regularly and stay healthy
This is probably the easiest way to start exercising your pup. You don’t need anything but a pair of comfy shoes and a leash! Take your pup around the neighborhood for some new smells for them and some fresh air for you while getting your bodies moving.
Go to the dog park
If your dog is friendly and has good recall a dog park can be an excellent addition to your pup’s exercise routine. Just make sure you keep an eye on your dog so that interactions stay fun and not stressful. For more tips on how to keep your dog safe and happy at the dog park, read our blog post here.
Go for a hike
Taking your pup hiking can be fun for both of you! You both get new sights and smells from your regular neighborhood walks and tromping around in nature is both mentally and physically rewarding.
Take your pup swimming
Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog when it’s hot outside! Did you know that 4 minutes of swimming is the same as one mile of running for dogs in terms of calories burned? Swimming is gentle on your dog’s joints, making it a great way to exercise an older dog or a dog recovering from an injury. Just be sure to never leave your pup near the water unattended.
Try a new activity like agility or dock diving
There are so many great activities that you can do with your dog! FitPaws USA, who founded Canine Fitness Month, has some great ideas on fun activities to do with your pup, like hide and seek, fetch, obstacle courses, or even dog yoga. Check out some of their videos here. Just a heads up, you may need some extra supplies for those videos but you can make your own agility equipment if you’re interested.
If you want a more organized activity, many training facilities provide agility training classes on real equipment or scent tracking and lure coursing classes for those dogs more interested in “prey” than in obstacles. Depending on where you live you may even find a dock diving facility for those pups that you just can’t keep out of the water!