Dogs appreciate mental and physical challenges. Some dogs won’t feel tired or relaxed unless their owners find a way to accomplish both. Here are seven great options for exercising your dog:
1) “Obedience” walks
A walk is one thing, but how about a walk where your dog has to work his mind? Practice commands such as heel, sit, down, stay and come. Use treats if necessary to encourage your dog to pay attention. Switch directions often. Walk at different speeds. Walk in a zig-zag pattern. Sure, you might look ridiculous, but your dog will get a good mental workout while learning to follow you and pay attention. Different dog collars can help with teaching a dog to heel or walk on a loose leash. Find the one that works best for your unique dog such as a martingale collar or a slip lead.
2) “Freedom” walks
This is the opposite of the “obedience” walk. This is where you allow your dog the freedom to sniff everything. Maybe you even stand somewhere for five minutes so your dog can really explore a small area with his nose. This can really tire out the dog mentally. Use a command such as “free!” so your dog knows when it’s OK to move around a bit. If safe, this would be a good time to give your dog some off-leash freedom. Make sure his pet ID tags are up to date first!
3) Walking in new places
Simply breaking up the routine and walking somewhere new can really make a difference. This will also help your dog learn to remain calm in “exciting,” new environments, and it will help with socialization. Drive to a new park, and walk the trails. Walk to a different neighborhood. Go left when you normally go right. Take your dog for a stroll downtown or out in the country. Take a walk through a pet friendly store.
4) Walking with a dog backpack
A dog backpack is just as it sounds – a backpack for your dog to wear! A dog backpack is a simple way to give your dog a job. Be careful not to add too much weight to the pack. Even wearing the pack on its own will be enough for some dogs. Other dog owners prefer to add water bottles, small bags of dog food or toys.
Of course, picking up the pace is always nice! Dogs are designed to move faster than us. Our walking pace must be painfully slow for them, especially for active breeds such as springer spaniels and pointers. Do your dog a favor and take her running, even if it’s for a short distance. She’ll love it! If you run with your dog at night, consider reflective dog collars or a LED collar cover as a safety precaution.
6) Dog parks
This is only an option for well-socialized dogs, of course. The best way to use a dog park is to walk your dog before entering the park. Maybe that means parking a mile away and walking to the gate. Sometimes dog owners make the mistake of using the dog park as the dog’s primary source of exercise, but all that energy between strange dogs can cause problems. Instead, try to use the dog park as a mental workout for your dog. Take him for a walk first, and then allow him to run, play, socialize and sniff within the park. This off-leash time is so important to a lot of dogs.
7) Formal training classes
Dog obedience classes are a great way to tire out a dog mentally and physically. Depending on where you live, there may be other types for training classes such as dog agility, trick training or an introduction to pet therapy work.
What are some other ways to exercise a dog?