No doubt that you have heard this a million times before – we all need exercise. This is just as important for our four-legged friends. With most exercise programs, while his person works out, a dog stays home alone, counting squirrels outside the window and wishing Animal Planet wasn’t a rerun. Fitness works best as a group event, including the family dog. They love to be with us and enjoy most of the same activities that we enjoy. Take your dog swimming in this hot weather, in the cooler months try touch football, jumping rope and rollerblading. Dogs love this.
When I adopted Connor, my New Leash on Life dog, one of the things that I asked was whether or not this little dog with short legs could walk a couple of miles a day. When I was assured that he could, I knew that this little guy was the one for me. Part of his job description is that he makes me get out and walk as many days a week as weather will permit. Neither one of us likes the heat so that often gives us an excuse to sleep late, but you will often see us in the drizzle. In fact, in June, I thought we might sprout leaves we got wet so often.
Don’t let inclement weather be your excuse. There are many things that you can do indoors with your dog – roll a ball down your hallway for fetch, plat fetch up and down stairs, hide treats for tracking games or play hide and seek. Not only are these activities good for the body but are mentally stimulating as well.
Another exercise option is to turn the backyard into an obstacle course. Use a clicker to signal the next move. A couple of hula hoops spaced a bit apart provide a pattern for sit/stay games as the dogs moves into each one on command. A thin wooden dowel across two boxes and anchored to a stick-on photo hook on either end provides a fun hurdle.
Many dogs even enjoy Yoga – especially the older ones. They can get a good stretch and keep their joints limber.
Always keep plenty of water handy. A treat after exercising is also enjoyed.
When I take my dog for a walk, I am always sad when I see people walking alone.
Surely, there is a neighbor’s dog that would enjoy going along. If you have a neighbor that works during the day, ask if you could take their dog for a little exercise while they are working. What about that senior citizen that can no longer take their dog for a walk, I bet they would appreciate your letting their dog tag along with you a couple of times a week. It will only take a time or two and that dog will be anxiously waiting by the door for your arrival. Don’t forget your litter bag.
These are a couple of exercise tips I found in a magazine: Start slow. Run warm-up laps. Take breaks. Carry water. Keep nails trimmed. Avoid running on hot pavement. Be considerate of long-haired dogs that might overheat easily. Avoid concrete surfaces which are rough on paw pads. Watch for any signs of pain or discomfort. Have fun.
I often hear people say, my dog doesn’t need exercise; I have a big fenced in yard. If you watch your dog while it is out in that yard, you will see it napping under a tree or bush or waiting by the back door to be let back in. If there is nothing to stimulate it, the dog will just nap the hours away. Although a fenced in yard is a major asset with owning a dog, unless you go out with it, the dog will only use it as its personal bathroom. You need to play with your friend and encourage him to move around.
Add a doggie exercise routine to your schedule, and your dog will be forever grateful. It could also add years of quality of life for both of you.
Submitted by: Bonnie Compton, Pals for Paws