To say that exercise is important, is a no-brainer. You might focus on some form of fitness during the week yourself, not only for enjoyment, but because you understand the benefits exercise affords you.
You will reduce the chances of obesity, strengthen your bones and muscle joints, and alleviate the risk of a heart attack by reducing both your blood pressure and your cholesterol level. And hey, you might have taken a dog into your home to give you the incentive to exercise more, and that’s great
Understanding the importance of exercise for yourself then, you should also transfer your knowledge to your dog. When you focus on their physical fitness on a daily basis, you reduce the chances of them becoming obese, and consequently, lower the risk of arthritic and heart problems occurring in their lives. On a slightly more selfish level, you will also reduce your vet bills should a health problem present itself
Of course, we are sure you already exercise your dog to some capacity. You might take them for a walk around the block every evening, or you might take them to the park. However, to improve your dog’s physical fitness, you should go the extra mile with them, perhaps literally!
Here are some practical ways to improve your dog’s level of physical fitness.
#1: Go the extra mile
As we have just suggested, this is one of the best ways to improve your dog’s fitness. You do need to be mindful of the breed of dog you are walking, of course. Certain dogs don’t require as much exercise as others, including these examples. However, there are certain dogs that do, and these are usually larger animals, such as Border Collies, Dalmatians, and Shetland Sheepdogs. You should research your breed online and speak to your vet to find out more. Still, once you know the limits of your dog, you should then walk them accordingly. Walk for their benefit as well as your own, giving them the luxury of a longer walk if appropriate, even if it takes up a little more time of your day. Your dog will appreciate it, and their physical health will benefit as a consequence.
#2: Walk faster
Sure, there are times when a leisurely stroll is more appropriate. Your dog does need time to stop and smell the roses (perhaps literally), and both you and your canine companion might not always have the energy for anything more. However, you don’t always have to walk at a slow pace, as the faster your walk, the more effort your dog will put in, and consequently, their level of fitness will improve. You might even consider jogging too if both you and your dog can manage the extra speed. Of course, if you or your dog starts to have difficulty breathing after an exerted bout of exercise, do stop and take a breather, and if necessary, slow down your pace on the rest of your walk together.
#3: Let your dog off his leash
You should only do this when it’s safe to do so, of course, so no letting your dog off his leash in a public area or in places of danger, such as near a main road. Rather, take your dog to a piece of land where he is free to roam around and exercise his legs and muscles further, such as at a field or on the beach. This will give them the opportunity to run around without restrictions, and it will give you a chance to go for a run unrestricted too, assuming you are fit and able to do so. This will also give you time and space to focus on the next point.
#4: Spend time playing with your dog
This is a great way to both increase your dog’s level of fitness and to boost their enjoyment level while doing so. And the same applies to you, of course. When you’re out and about, and your dog is off his leash, there are loads of games you could play with them. Fetch is an obvious example, be it with a frisbee, stick, or ball, but you might also play hide and seek, go on a treat hunt, or play tug-of-war with an old piece of rope. There are some other game ideas here. To ensure your dog puts in a little more effort, you might also play in hilly areas, as the changes in the environment will flex his joints and muscles to a greater degree. You can also play some of these games outside in your garden or yard if you have one, so as well as walking your dog 2-3 times a day, spend a little extra time with them at home in play activities.
#5: Give your dog more freedom at home
When we say freedom, we aren’t telling you to let them jump on your sofa, sleep in your bed, or help themselves to the food in your refrigerator. Rather, we are asking you to give them more freedom to move around at home. So, you might let them have a little more access to the house than normal, as this will give them scope to stroll around at home, even when you’re not around. You might also consider a dog flap, ensuring you get the right size for big dogs if you have a larger canine companion, as this will give them the opportunity to venture out into your yard or garden for a longer and more extensive stroll around; again, useful for when you’re at work or away during the day.
#6: Enable opportunities for agility training
There might be an agility course near you, so do your research online to discover more. However, you can also set up an agility training course in your yard or garden, using the objects you have at your disposal to create obstacles and pathways for your dog to weave in and out of, perhaps with healthy treats along the way to keep them moving in the right direction. Not only are agility courses great for developing muscle coordination in your dog, but they are a lot of fun too, and an excellent way to mix up your dog’s exercise routine.
In both the short and the long-term, you will boost your dog’s health and their happiness levels if you take steps to improve their physical fitness. And as we have said within the article, the same applies to you, so for the benefit of both you and your four-legged friend, find ways to exercise more today and in the days and weeks to come. You would be barking mad not to!
Thanks for reading!