In our last post, we talked about how important fitness and activity was to humans and canines alike. With this piece, we wanted to outline some fun and engaging ways you and your pup can stay active. As a reminder, exercise and activity does not just benefit Fido physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Dogs are pack animals, and for them going on long walks, runs, or engaging in play with you – their pack leader – is rewarding for them on physical and emotional levels.
Below are some activities you can enjoy while staying active with your pup, but in the interest of being thorough, we wanted to remind you of the following:
Before you even consider taking your pup for a walk or ratcheting up their fitness regimen, make sure you have them vetted and up to date on all their shots. Some dogs, especially older ones, may have unseen issues – like heart murmurs or arthritis– that can be complicated by exercise. But do not worry, just like humans, there are exercises you can still do with your pup that are low impact.
Also, keep in mind that not all dogs are cut out for long walks, runs, or intense bouts of exercise. Bulldogs and other brachycephalic (aka flat-faced or short-faced breeds) do not do very well with heat or intense exercise, so keep your jaunts around the block to a minimum and only when it is cool out. These breeds are especially susceptible to heat stroke because they cannot pant efficiently.
Make sure you stop often and offer your exercise buddy some water. Additionally, be sure to check the temperature of the pavement if you are walking your pup on blacktop. If you can’t hold the back of your hand on the pavement for five seconds, it’s too hot for your pup’s paws.
Some dogs thrive on exercise and need it more than others. Sporting dogs like Huskies, Weimaraners, Pointers, and other working breeds love to burn off some energy, and you will have a more well-behaved dog for it!
Now let's get into the fun stuff:
A brisk walk is great for your pups, and helps them burn of some energy, find some mental stimulation by sniffing around the neighborhood, and scratches the primal itch to patrol their territory with their pack. Always use a static lead (not a retractable leash) and always keep your pup on a leash, no matter where you are.
Some pups love to go for a jog with their humans, and it’s basically just talking a walk but picking up the pace. Make sure your dog is healthy enough to handle a long run first, of course. Also, make sure you bring enough water for you and them.
This is just like walking, but a little more elevation, uneven terrain and even more “sniffs” for your four-legged friend. Again, make sure you always have them on a leash, and make sure you have a good “leave it” or “drop it” command in place. There are plenty of things that can hurt your pup in the woods, depending on where you live. From toxic plants to snakes and small animals that will bite if cornered. Since we at Barbells For Bullies are super-active, we always post content about keeping you and your pup safe on our social media feeds.
Some national parks have restrictions on dogs, so make sure you check out bringfido.com to see what trails are dog-friendly near you. Also, make sure they’re up to date with their anti-flea and tick medications; and check them for ticks after every trip even if they are medicated just to be doubly sure.
Agility courses are a great way to exercise your dog’s brain as well as their body, especially if you have a high energy pup like a Border Collie or a sporting dog like a pointer. Many local parks have an agility course, and you can work your way up to high jumps and see-saw crossings in no time. You can also check out how to make a DIY agility course at home on Off Leash.
The most prototypical activity for exercising with your pet, you can just pick up a ball or frisbee and head to a local park or your backyard. Reminder: don’t use tennis balls intended for tennis, as the fuzz can cause issues with their mouth and abrade their teeth and gums. The types of balls sold at pet stores are best. Just getting outside and throwing a ball or disc around is a great way to get some exercise and allow them to practice their drop it command - a twofer!
Some dogs love the water, while others don’t, so make sure you know your dog’s preferences before you take that long car ride to the beach, pool, or lake. If your pup is a bit older, though, and likes the water, swimming is a perfect way for them to get some low-impact exercise that won’t bother aging joints or arthritic pups. However, make sure you know the water quality, understand the wildlife in the area and make sure there are no water snakes, of course.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding / Kayaking
If your pup likes to chill, but you love the outdoors, you can compromise by taking them out on a stand up paddle board (SUP) or a kayak. You get to do all the work, and they get to have some time with their human. Make sure you have a life-vest for you and your pup though!
Rollerblading / Skateboarding
Some pups love to pull their owners on skates or skateboards, and if this sounds like your pup, this is a good way to stay active with them. One caveat is that you should put them in a harness, and have a dog that is well trained and obeys commands (that way they don’t accidentally pull you both into traffic chasing a ball/squirrel/whatever catches their eye). Many city trails and paths have flat areas and fewer people that are conducive to this.
Soccer/Basketball/Chasing a Ball
Some pups love to “play soccer” or nose/kick a ball around. Make sure it’s a ball you don’t mind getting teeth marks on though! Soccer, basketball, or other sports where they need to chase a ball is a great way for them to tap into their prey drive in a constructive way, and allow them to get a good workout in while bonding with their human.
Like people, all dogs are individuals, and have their likes and dislikes. Expose your pup to as much as you can and pick activities that you both like. Remember that dogs have emotions just like people, and can be apprehensive at first, so make sure to assure and encourage them when trying new activities. A confident dog takes a confident owner, so grab a leash, get out there and start trying new things.
About Barbells For Bullies:
Barbells For Bullies® is a 100% volunteer run 501(c)3 non-profit that hosts fitness competitions, weightlifting, strongman, and powerlifting events all over the US, and donates all net proceeds from these events to help local animal rescues and advocacy groups.
Founded by a husband and wife with a bunch of rescue pups, Barbells for Bullies is on a mission to help As Many Rescues As Possible®. Since 2016, Barbells For Bullies has hosted over 35 events, donated almost $150,000 to local rescues, and personally sponsored over 100 dogs in dire need of assistance via The Underdog Fund! You can learn more about the amazing work they do on their Instagram, @barbellsforbullies, Facebook, and their website, www.barbellsforbullies.org.