Like balanced nutrition, exercising your pet is critical for maintaining health and strengthening the human-animal bond. A few laps around your backyard or a 20-minute stroll is not enough exercise and stimulation for a healthy, active dog. There are many ways to increase aerobic activity with so many dog-friendly parks, beaches, doggie daycares, and indoor and outdoor training facilities.
Activities for Small Breeds
As smaller breeds have a greater tendency towards obesity, regular physical activity is vital to managing weight and overall health. Smaller breeds can find the room they need to stretch just about anywhere. Indoor activities such as playing fetch with a toy, chasing, hide and seek, going up and down a flight of stairs for treats, or a DIY agility course made up of broomsticks and nylon tunnels can be fun to challenge your dog. Short bursts or intervals of higher-intensity exercise can be what your dog needs to stay engaged and fit.
Considerations for small breeds:
• Toy breeds also have a propensity for tracheal collapse, so stop any activity that causes an increase in coughing or respiratory distress.
• Pugs, bulldogs, Pekingese, and Frenchies have cute button noses, but their narrow nostrils can make for restricted airflow and be dangerous if they overheat. It’s best to stay in cool, temperature-controlled areas.
• Not racetrack material, our brachycephalic dogs and couch potatoes like the basset hound can be sufficiently exercised with a few laps around the block and time to sniff several times a day. Low-impact exercises and obedience work where they practice sitting, staying, and recalling. Scent work can provide lots of physical and mental enrichment without overexertion.
Activities for Large Breeds
It’s best to choose activities that you will enjoy doing together. After all, an exercise program isn’t successful if it isn’t sustainable. Larger dogs generally enjoy more expansive spaces to roam. Choose activities that sound like fun to you.
Considerations for large breeds:
• Dog parks provide an excellent place to socialize your friendly pet and get in a few rounds of fetch.
• Short, high-speed runs are effective for sighthounds. A spacious park setting or fenced-in field can be a great opportunity to let them do what they were born to do!
• Energetic, enthusiastic dogs also thrive in canine sports such as flyball, lure coursing, or agility, and classes abound.
• In colder climates, winter activities like dog sledding, chasing snowballs, skijoring, or building a snow maze can be fun if your dog’s feet are protected and their body temperature is maintained.
• Hunting, herding, and working dogs such as the Australian shepherd, husky, or Belgian Malinois need mental stimulation and a “job” to avoid boredom; they can be active for as much or more than 2 hours a day and not be fatigued.
• Do you enjoy hiking? Your active dog may love to explore new trails and preserves.
• If you enjoy swimming and the weather is right, dock diving and backyard fetch in the pool are great ways to stay in shape.
• Jogging with your dog is another activity you can experience together. Ensure the pavement is cool and water stations are available for you and your dog. Building up the duration and intensity of your runs will keep exercising with your companion fun and safe.
• If you must stay indoors with your active pet, try puzzle games, have a doggie playdate, or look for an indoor doggie daycare to meet their daily exercise quota.
Ask an Expert
Before establishing a new exercise routine or shaking up some old activities, make an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian to assess their health and some parameters to help guide which activities might be best suited for your pet. Age, breed, and pre-existing conditions can affect their stamina, acceptable joint impact, ideal temperature and weather conditions for exercising, and the sport they might enjoy.
View our Pet Wellness Videos for more expert pet advice.
At Pet Butler, we want you and your pet to live your best and healthiest lives, which is why we offer pet waste removal and other services year-round. We offer weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and one-time clean-up services to work with your schedule and needs.