We know it’s important for humans to stay active, but sometimes we forget that dogs need exercise too. Not only does lack of exercise cause health problems, it also results in pent-up energy. Most often this excess energy comes out in less than pleasant behavior, like chewing up your new Birkenstocks or digging up your hostas. Check out 5 fun ways to give your dog a healthy energy outlet.
Tilly the Golden Doodle has plenty of energy to spare.
Running goes beyond giving your dog good exercise. It provides you with an enthusiastic running partner, and can strengthen your bond with your dog. Before you hit the pavement with your pup, read the following tips.
- Make sure that your dog is in running-shape. Old dogs or dogs younger than 18 months should not run with you. Check with your vet to make sure your dog is capable of long runs.
- Start with short runs and build up to longer ones. You couldn’t run 5 miles without working up to it, and neither can your dog. JT Claugh, in his article about running with dogs, suggests starting with a ten minute run and adding ten more minutes per week.
- Make sure your dog is well trained. Dogs need to know how to walk politely on a leash before going on a run. If your dog is constantly trying to stop to sniff trees or charging ahead of you, it will only end in lots of frustration and very little exercise.
Check out this awesome article for more tips on running with your dog.
If you’re too tired for a run, sit in a lawn chair and throw a frisbee. Our favorite frisbee here at Ollu is West Paw’s Zisc. It’s flexible, floats, and is nearly indestructible. The best part is, if your dog manages to tear it up, you can get a new one for free from West Paw.
If fetch gets boring, try mixing it up by grabbing a friend and playing Monkey in the Middle (or perhaps we should say Dog in the Middle).
Try making an obstacle course for your dog. Run through it with him or teach him to dodge and jump it on his own. Use chairs to create tunnels to crawl through. Lay a broom handle on two towers of books to create a jump. Pull out the old hula hoop in the garage and teach your dog to jump through it. The options are endless! If you want to invest some money into it, create a course with PVC pipes, cones, and play tunnels. Click here for more ideas!
Bringing your dog to a lake or river to go swimming can be a great way to burn some energy even on hot days. However, there are dangers that you should be aware of. Most can be avoided if you take the necessary precautions.
- Avoid stagnant water and blue-green algae. Stagnant water is the perfect home for harmful bacteria and amoeba. Be sure to avoid water covered with blue-green algae as well. It is poisonous to dogs and you never know when your dog will lick some for a tasty snack.
- Consider your dog’s swimming ability. Like humans, most dogs need to learn how to swim. If your dog has never gone swimming before, be sure to ease him into it and begin in shallow water. Only very experience swimmers should be allowed to swim far from the shore or in places where there may be currents. Keep in mind that some dogs are never able to learn to swim. Dogs with very short legs or a low body fat percentage, just aren’t built for it.
- Dry your dog thoroughly. If your dog’s ear canals and coat stay wet they can easily develop ear infections, hot spots, and matting.
- Check your dog from head to tail after a swim, looking for any injuries or unwanted guests. It’s important to find any issues before they develop into serious problems.
Keep in mind that not all dogs are suited to join you on your bike ride. You should not bike with dogs under 25lbs, or under 1.5 years old. Remember that dogs with greater body mass will not be able to run as far, and the shorter your dog’s legs, the harder it will be for him to keep up.
As usual, it’s important to start small and slowly work up to greater distances and speeds. Always keep an eye on your dog and watch for signs of overexertion.
If you’ve ever tried casually bringing your dog on a bike ride, you’ve probably quickly learned that dogs need to be trained before they can join you. Some dogs are terrified of the bike whirring beside them. Others get so excited they just about pull you over. Be sure to take the time to get your dog used to the bike before heading out. This will lower the chance of injury for both you and your dog. Click here for a video about how to train your dog to bike with you.
So… what are you waiting for? Grab your dog, get out there, and get active!