Chances are, our dogs are getting more exercise than they have in months past because of pet parents working from home. And working from home is great, if you are prepared for it and if your dog cooperates when you’re on a client call or video chat—right? It may also be a time for getting back in shape or find ways to enjoy activities while social distancing. Simply being in the out-of-doors in the sunshine, breathing in fresh air boosts your mood.
So, while you are working from home, here are some exercises you can do with your dog and excellent ways to spend time with Fido while getting in shape:
- Hiking in the woods or mountains
- Swimming in the local pool or lake
- Running or walking
- Playing a game of fetch
- Agility courses
Getting regular exercise will help keep your pup healthier, control his weight, build muscle and promote heart health. You will reap these benefits as well as having an improved mood from the serotonin coursing through your body when your blood is pumping.
>Your Dog’s Current Health Matters
Before you and your pup hit the great outdoors, you may both need a wellness check. It’s not safe to go from couch potato to long-distance runner. If that is the case, you run the risk of injury. To be sure your pup is up to activity, contact your vet and schedule a wellness visit. Let your veterinarian know what type of activity you and your dog will be practicing and find out if your dog is healthy enough to participate. Your vet will check your dog’s heart, lungs and maybe even her blood pressure. Your dog’s hips and joints will be examined. Even if your dog is overweight, your vet will probably give a thumbs up to your taking him for short walks and building up to longer walks before jumping into high intensity runs, swims or games of fetch.
Ways To Exercise With Your Dog
Go for a hike. Find a location close by where you and your dog can take a hike; or grab your supplies and get into the car and take a drive to a location where you can try a new hiking trail. Bring water, a collapsible water bowl for your pup, treats and anything else you feel you’ll need. A hike in the mountains or woods is a great way to truly get away and get in touch with nature and is a wonderful place for you and your dog to get away for a bit. If you and your dog are in good shape and if your veterinarian agrees, find a hiking trail that is challenging and brings with it some inclines. Take frequent breaks and enjoy a snack with your pup.
Swimming. Whether you have your own swimming pool or live close to a lake or pond or other body of water, take your dog and go for a swim. Remember, not all dogs can swim and not all dogs like water. Know your dog and her personality, and don’t force her to swim. If your dog is out of shape—hesitant or just for safety’s sake—make sure she wears a life vest. This will help you grab her if you need to, keep her on a leash so she doesn’t drift downstream or run out of the water and will help keep her afloat.
Running. The breed of dog with whom you share your life may be more suited to a jog or run than others. For example: A Saint Bernard is likely not going to be a great running companion, while a Poodle or Greyhound may be. There are those dogs who will take any invitation to go for a run, and you may have a hard time keeping up! Keep the weather in mind when you and your pup head out. Bring water and a collapsible water bowl for your dog. Gauge his capacity for continuing the run and watch out for signs he is tiring.
Park/yard playtime. As I write this article, spending time in a dog park may not be allowed as everyone is supposed to be practicing social distancing. If you can find an open dog park, maintain social distancing and have your pup: jog around the perimeter with him, toss a ball or a flying disk, or play tug-o-war.
Your dog may be just as happy spending time in her own backyard. It’s a comfortable space and she doesn’t have to worry about running into strange humans and strange dogs. If your yard is large enough, you can certainly give your dog the exercise she needs to be healthy and active. And be sure to join in on the fun!
Agility. If you have a place where you and your pup can practice agility that may be an amazing outlet for a dog who has boundless energy. A quick online search for “local agility courses” will provide results in your area and see what you need to do to get your pup enrolled. An agility course will require you to run the course with your dog to lure him into and out of the various platforms and tubes that are available. Learning agility or even learning scent trailing is not only a fun exercise for your dog, but it’s a great way to bond.
In-Home Exercise With Your Dog
If you live in an area of the country where it’s too hot or too cold to get out and exercise, set up a space in your house and make it be a place where your pup can run and jump and play. Even if you live in a small space—like an apartment—there are ways to exercise your dog using the stairs, tub, hallway (when it’s not busy with foot traffic from the neighbors), etc. Or find a grassy area to toss a ball and play fetch.
Dogs just want to be with their humans; so, any activity you do together is a major bonus and a great way to bond with one another. We bet you can find a way to exercise and have fun with your dog and can add to the list we’ve shared here.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.
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