Five ways to get active with your dog
Being active with your dog doesn’t just have to mean a walk every day, there are many different ways you can exercise together. Here are five different activities you can do to mix it up that are both fun and will get you and your dog moving.
Bushwalking is easy to do with your dog – it’s just walking on trails rather than pavement! Australia has so many great parks and walks to explore and your dog will love changing up their routine and exploring somewhere new. When picking a route, choose a trail that suits your fitness level and your dog’s. If your dog is used to shorter distance walks then don’t set out to tackle a 20km trek! Choose terrain and difficulty you both would be able to achieve, this way you’ll enjoy the walk and come away with good memories of your hike together.
- Water for both you and your dog, and collapsible bowl.
- Food and snacks
- First aid kit
- Poop bags
And always remember: leave no trace. Be a responsible pet owner, pick up after your dog, and keep them on leash to respect and protect native wildlife and flora, so we can continue to enjoy the trails with our dogs in years to come.
2. Bike riding
Heading out for a bike ride is a great form of exercise for both you and your dog. I often ride my bike and run Kate alongside me as I find I can go further and run her harder which as a kelpie she loves! When training your dog to bike with you getting a few commands down pat are beneficial to a safe and fun ride. The commands I’ve found most useful are:
- Heel – calling the dog to run beside you and match your pace.
- Left – calling the dog to your left side.
- Right – calling the dog to your right side (these are beneficial when there are other users on the path and you want to pass by unobtrusively).
- Off you go – release the dog for free run.
These are the commands I use, but of course you can term them whatever suits you and your dog best.
I have also trained Kate to recognise a hand in the air means ‘come’. As when she is off leash and beyond my shout range I raise my hand instead, and Kate will come.
As with any activity, choose distances and terrain your dog can manage. If you are riding solely on concrete, be sure to stop regularly to check for wear and tear on your dog’s paw pads. If it’s hot out, consider boots or another route to protect your dog’s paws from cracking and peeling on the hot stone.
Explore, exercise and tire out your dog with a bike ride for a well behaved dog at home!
3. Exercise Classes
Exercise classes with your dog are popping up everywhere! Kate and I regularly attended Barxercise when it was running. These are circuit style classes, where you get a strength and cardio based workout, and your dog is given challenges to complete as well!
The benefits of group workouts with your dog are many. Each exercise incorporates your dog, so you not only get a workout but your dog is being mentally stimulated and worked at the same time. You and your dog get to socialise in a safe and welcoming environment, making weekly sessions not only beneficial to both you and your dog’s health but a social catch up too. And finally it’s something different to add to the mix, I can’t stress enough how changing up your daily routine excites and stimulates your dog’s mental well being. So give it a go and find a workout near you.
Swimming is an all over body workout. Swimming is a healthy, low impact and fun activity for you and your dog. Some of the benefits include:
a. Cardio vascular benefits
Swimming helps your dog build their cardio-vascular fitness through aerobic exercise. A healthy heart and lung capacity means your dog can play, run and swim for longer with less risk of injury.
b. Low impact all over body workout
When submerged the water takes most of the dog’s weight. For older dogs or dogs with arthritis or sore stiff muscles this is an ideal setting in which to strengthen muscles and exercise in a gentle setting.
c. Sleep better
Swimming involves moving through water which is denser than air. When swimming your dog is working every muscle against the water, which means every doggie paddle becomes a resistance exercise!
d. It’s fun!
Swimming is fun and it is an activity you can do together. It is the perfect addition to rounding out your dog’s exercise throughout the week, and if you can get in there for a swim too, even better.
Agility is a fantastic sport that exercises and stimulates both your dog’s body and mind. Agility is essentially running an obstacle course which can consist of hurdles, ramps and weave poles and other challenges. It not only provides a great workout, but also teaches your dog positive behaviours and obedience to boot. Kate and I are only just starting but here are some of the benefits of agility training we look forward to experiencing:
a. Mental and physical workout
Ducking, jumping and weaving all at pace would tire any dog out. Their reflexes become honed and each run is timed, so the faster the better. Learning all these manoeuvres exercises their brains, providing a great mental workout too.
b. Letting your dog use their natural instincts
What would a dog do in the wild – most likely their time would be spent searching for food. Which means chasing after fast moving animals. The ability to tackle any obstacle without losing pace and keeping an eye on the end goal is exactly what agility is about, utilising and directing your dog’s natural instincts in a productive manner.
Like any group activity, socialisation is always part and parcel! From training at your local club to official trials, your dog not only makes friends but you do too.
d. Increased bond and understanding between you and your dog
The bond between you and your dog can only increase when working together so closely on a goal. Communication and respect is key to mastering a course, which can only bring you and your dog a deeper understanding of each other.
With a variety of different forms of exercise, you not only provide the physical exercise they need but also the mental stimulation which is a vital part of your dog’s well being. So go on, mix it up and try something new with your dog!