Staying active is important for both humans and dogs alike. While an average healthy adult should get 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week, dogs also need regular exercise, but how much depends on your dog's breed and age. Growing puppies are not yet ready to take on as much activity as adult dogs. And active breeds, such as Border Collies or German Shepherd Dogs, thrive on daily physical activity.
If you're looking for a new way to get moving with your canine pal, here are 11 things you should try.
- Go for a walk. This one is simple and obvious, but it is an easy way to keep you and your dog active and social. If you walk your dog in a busy area, make sure that your dog is polite and his focus is on you, not on the other people or dogs. And if you have a puppy, here are a few tips to teach him how to walk on a leash. Walking comes with other benefits too; read how walking your dog makes you sexier.
- Go for a run. If your dog is well behaved while walking, try adding jogging into the mix. Ease into running by alternating between walking and running, and gradually build up the time you spend jogging (for example, alternate between jogging for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds during your 20-minute walk). Be aware of your dog at all times and stop if he looks uncomfortable. If you and your dog love running together, challenge yourself to build up to a dog-human 5K race. If you're unsure if your dog is up to it, ask your veterinarian.
- Play fetch. Instead of just standing while your dog retrieves the ball, try doing a set of lunges, squats, jumping jacks, or another exercise before your dog makes it back to you. Change up your exercise between throws and use a ball launcher to really give you and your dog a workout.
- Take an agility class. This fun canine sport will get you and your dog really moving as you work as a team to complete a timed obstacle course. If you don't think agility is for you, but you're interested in other sports, take our quiz to find out which one you should try with your dog.
- Dog + yoga = doga. “Doga” is similar to the regular mind-body workout of yoga, but it's with your dog. Practicing yoga can help tone muscles and increase flexibility. While some yoga studios may offer dog-friendly classes, there are a number of tutorials online if you want to give doga a try at home.
- Dance with your dog. Not only does dancing provide a good cardio workout, but dancing with your dog can be a fun way to bond and stay active together. And if you're really serious about it, there are many “canine freestyle” and other dog dance competitions around the world. If you're interested, you can try it yourself at home or attend local events put on by a few organizations, including the Canine Freestyle Federation.
- Take a hike. Find a nearby hiking trail to make your regular walks more challenging. Keep your eye out for wildlife and be aware of poisonous plants and insects that could carry disease. If you live in a city, try urban hiking between a few landmarks or your favorite dog-friendly places.
- Train your dog to do tricks. Teach your dog some tricks that will impress your friends and keep you both moving. Try teaching leg weaves or how to go under the bridge. If you and your dog master a few tricks, try putting them together to create a routine.
- Ride a bike or rollerblade. If you have a very active dog, riding a bike or rollerblading while your dog runs alongside could be a good way to burn off some energy. Before you start make sure your dog is not scared of your rollerblades or bike, and that you are able to pay attention to your dog while you ride.
- Attend a dog-friendly fitness class. There are a number of dog-friendly fitness instructors who offer yoga, Pilates, and aerobics classes, both in person and online. One organization, K9 Fit Club, has multiple locations across the U.S.
- Play soccer. Soccer requires a lot of physical endurance and coordination, but it can be a fun and easy game to play in your backyard with your dog. Some dogs will go after the soccer ball naturally, while others may need some training and guidance. While some dogs may want to chase after the ball, some want to play goalie like this record-breaking dog below.
Before you engage in exercise with your dog, make sure that both you and your dog are physically up to it. Remember to take regular breaks and to stay hydrated. Be aware of the weather and avoid exercising in extreme heat. If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke or other health issues, call your veterinarian.