Owning a pet is a tremendous responsibility that comes with many rewards. From their wagging tails full of excitement and enthusiasm when they greet us, to their undying loyalty and affection, nothing beats having a dog for our best friend and constant companion.
In order to keep them the happiest and healthiest they can possibly be, they need to be on a regular exercise regime. Just like humans, there are a growing number of health problems associated with becoming overweight or obese. The best way to avoid a debilitating health issue is through a proper diet and exercise program.
Some pet owners have no choice but to leave their animals indoors when they’re away at workor school, but this doesn’t necessarily mean downtime during the day for our dogs. Left to their own devices, they’d likely sleep all day during your absence, but there are ways to keep them
moving after your departure.
Many of us have seen videos showing the new “fetch machines” available on the dog market, but here are a couple of other methods for keeping your canine moving indoors.
● Food puzzles: Kibble inserted inside a plastic orb or other hollow object will keep a dog entertained and active while searching for their food
● Hide and go treat: With a dog’s hyper sense of smell, consider hiding treats around the house for them to locate while you’re away
If you’re stuck indoors, whether it’s too hot or cold to go outdoors, you can still be active with your dog. You can play a lively game of fetch with a soft toy down a hall or up some stairs. Try a vigorous game of tug-of- war with a rope toy or even an old sock with a knot makes a great grip. Similar to playing with a cat, consider attaching one of their favorite toys onto a string at the end of a pole and their predatory nature will likely have them chasing the object.
Inclement weather shouldn’t be an excuse to stop a pet’s exercise regime. For example, if they’re kept indoors all winter and their activity levels suffer, they could develop muscle issues or other aches and pains once they’ve become more mobile again. Spring can be one of the busiest seasons for veterinarians for this reason.
Just like our two-legged children with their young playmates, our four-legged friends often enjoy the company of other critters. If you’re a single-dog household and you’re kept indoors due to the weather, consider arranging play dates for your pet. Maybe there’s a favorite dog they run into during their walk with one of the neighbors. Get to know people in your community better by inviting them to bring their pet over for a visit with your animal.
We’ll skip over the obvious ways to keep your canine active outdoors, like taking them to the dog park, out for a nightly walk, accompanying you on your daily jog and other common exercise routines. Instead, let’s think outside the leash for some other activities to keep your dog happy, healthy and trim outside.
While swimming is also a great form of exercise for your dog, there’s growing popularity with a water sport that brings the pool to you and your pet. Often called dock diving or dog diving, this relatively new sport is becoming all the rage with people and their pets around the world.
The AKC (American Kennel Association) has recently recognized this sport and the achievements of the animals participating in these tournaments. If you’re unfamiliar with dog or dock diving, organizations bring a giant, portable pool with a ramp to a location near you.
Enticed by their favorite toy or treat, the dog runs down the ramp to chase this bait and is judged by how far he leaps into the water.
Another event presents a dangling object overhead and when dogs leap to catch it, they’re measured by the height they have jumped from the ramp. Competitions are sometimes rewarded with cash or other prizes, but commonly humans are competing for sheer bragging rights and for the fun of competition. Many proud pet parents are traveling across state lines, all around the country to attend tournaments and championships.
If you and your water-friendly dog are interested in competing, try searching for “dog or dock diving” in your area. You’ll likely see names like Dock Dogs, Splash Dogs and Ultimate Air Dogs along with other organizations running these type of water games. There’s usually a small entrance fee that helps offset the cost of these events.
Always check with your veterinarian when it comes to your pet’s exercise routine and dietary choices. And be sure to reward them for their activity with the best bully sticks money can buy. Not only are they good for their teeth and gums, bully sticks are a gluten-free chew that engages dogs in healthy chewing, a workout in itself!
About the Author
Amber Kingsley is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA. Her art history background helps her hone in on topics that are of interest to readers. She is a dog enthusiast and loves spending time with her Pomeranian, Agatha.