5 Fun Exercise Alternatives to Walking Your Dog

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Exercise and training tips to vary your routine.

Going on a walk can be the highlight of your dog’s day — and for good reason. A walk provides the chance to use up some of your dog’s seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm as you explore the outside world together.

But most dog owners probably walk the same route on the same paths in the same park, day after day. There’s nothing wrong with routine, but changing it up every now and then can be fun and healthy for both you and your dog.

Check out these five simple dog exercise alternatives for when you need a break from walking your dog.

1. Go for a Jog with Your Dog

If jogging or running is part of your regular exercise routine, bring your dog along for one of your shorter jogs to add some variety to their routine. Jogging gives your dog the chance to expend lots of energy in a short amount of time. Saturday morning 5K park runs, for example, take place all over the U.S., and many of them allow you to bring your dog along, too!

However, not all dogs are well-suited for longer, or even shorter, jogs. Certain breeds, like bulldogs, aren’t physically built for long runs. Neither are puppies; they generally lack the stamina for running long distances.

Finally, if you do run with your dog, try to be considerate of when they want to stop — whether to greet other dogs or relieve themselves — even if it slows you down. And always pay attention to the weather, as jogging on a warm day could lead to your dog having heat stroke.

2. Meet with Other Dog Owners

As you know, dogs love being with other dogs. As long as they get along well, most dogs will play together: racing around, jumping, wrestling — and wearing each other out. Set up regular play dates with other dog owners, or meet up at the dog park, to expand both your and your dog’s social networks.

3. Play in the Grass

If you have a garden or a park nearby, trade a regular walk for a game of fetch or chase. Almost all dogs love playing fetch. A ball launcher can make the game easier for you and even more fun for your dog. Ball launchers allow you to throw the ball far with hardly any effort, and will encourage your dog to run hard.

Agility training is another way to exercise both your dog’s mind and body. You can use items in your home or garage, or from a home improvement store, to build a dog agility course: hula hoops for jumping rings, PVC pipes and joints for hurdles, thick and sturdy plywood for ramps and platforms. You can also buy tunnels, plastic cones and other props from pet stores to complete the course.

4. Learn New Tricks

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and love playing a game of hide-and-seek with their treats around the garden or house.

By using the same word or phrase each time (such as “Get ready!” or “Go find it!”) before your dog hunts for a treat, you are associating certain words and phrases with behaviors that remind your pup of a treat or reward. Make sure to praise your dog after each round of search to help cement the “Go find it!” trick in their mind.

5. Go for a Swim

While not for every dog, many dogs are natural swimmers and love the water. Backyard pools and shallow areas of lakes can make for great outdoor fun, not only for your dog, but for you too.

Make sure your dog is safe and well-behaved while exercising by teaching obedience commands. Regularly work on your dog’s recall and other obedience tricks — such as “Sit!” and “Drop it!” — to make your exercise time safe and fun for everyone.

While walking your dog is a cornerstone of your pet’s exercise routine, it’s not always possible. Beyond that, a little variety doesn’t hurt! By switching up the status quo, you’ll make exercising fun and help keep your dog fit and healthy, too. 

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