My mom has a saying that she has been beating into me since I was a kid. “Gotta keep moving.”
Both of my parents recognize the value in an active lifestyle, which is part of the reason (along with a healthy diet and lifestyle) that they look and act much younger than their physical age.
I’ve always thought the same to be true of our pets. As the saying goes, “A body in motion stays in motion.”
Sometimes it is a little bit more challenging to know what our dogs need in terms of exercise simply because they cannot speak.
So how much exercise does your pup really need? And what are some creative ways to exercise your dog when weather or air quality (hello 2020 wildfires) is not cooperating?
Here’s some of our best tips and tricks for keeping your dog in motion.
How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including:
- Age (senior dogs have different exercise needs than puppies)
- Medical condition (i.e. does your dog have hip dysplasia, heart disease or respiratory issues?)
It’s important to factor in mental stimulation as well. Dogs require physical and mental activity, just as we do. Practicing obedience work can be helpful for keeping your dog’s boredom level low. And it’s important to mix up your dog’s exercise routine to keep their brain engaged.
If your dog has a medical condition, make sure you discuss exercise options with your vet. And don’t forget that you never want to overdo it if it is an extreme temperature. Overheating is a very real concern in dogs. If it is the middle of summer, take your dog out during the coolest part of the day, and pay attention to symptoms of heat fatigue: excessive panting, disorientation, collapsing, vomiting, and bright red or blue gums, to name a few.
Ways to Exercise Your Dog
If you use your imagination, you’ll be able to think of a million different ways to fulfill your dog’s daily exercise requirement! Here’s a few ideas if you (and your dog!) need some variety from walking around the neighborhood:
- Go on a hike
- Swimming (also a great low impact exercise option for dogs with joint issues)
- Play fetch
- Agility work
- Draft work (dog sledding, pulling a cart, etc.)
- Play frisbee
- Go to the dog park (just be sure to take the necessary precautions)
As you are exercising your dog every day, recognize that while physical activity is necessary for maintaining healthy weight and overall well being, your dog’s joints will be experiencing more stress. Check out the #1 hip and joint supplement for dogs here to protect your dog’s joint health and keep your pup active longer!
Indoor Exercise for Dogs
Ok, so what do you do when it is the middle of winter and there’s 3 feet of snow on the ground? Or it’s summer in Texas and there is literally no time of day cool enough for your dog to go outside and not overheat? Or you’re living in the apocalypse times that are 2020 and terrible air quality has you stuck inside?
Luckily, you can get creative with exercising your dog indoors. Here’s a few ideas:
- Teach your dog how to use a treadmill. Sounds radical, but some high energy breeds really enjoy this and if you already have a treadmill for yourself, why not? As always, take it slow and be safe in the training process.
- Play hide-and-seek with your dog. Might give you a laugh too!
- Teach your dog a new trick (think: mental stimulation).
- Run up & down the stairs with your dog. Again, don’t overdo it and be cognizant of your dog’s size and conformation. For example, this might not be the best exercise idea for a Corgi or Dachshund.
- Indoor agility or obstacle courses. Kids make forts out of couch pillows. You can be innovative with this!
- Play indoor fetch or tug-of-war.
- Buy a dog puzzle toy or a slow feeder that your pup has to figure out.
Exercising Your Dog is a Win-Win
Make exercise a daily routine and modify it based on what your dog needs on that particular day. Your dog is a master communicator and he will always find a way to get your attention. Pay attention to the cues and language your dog uses to fill you in on what he is thinking and how he is feeling.
And don’t forget that in the process of exercising your best friend, you are also on your way to aging gracefully! It’s a win-win.
Stay in motion, protect your dogs’ joints, and reap the benefits of a healthy, well-adjusted dog!