- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
You’ve probably got your New Year’s resolutions ready to go—save more, travel, remember to do your laundry before it completely covers that one unfortunate chair. But what about your pet? Maybe it’s time to extend that fresh-start feeling to your best bud by establishing a fun dog workout routine.
The workout that’s best for your pet will depend on your dog’s breed, weight, and level of health—and the amount of time you have available.
Before you get started with a routine, figure out how much exercise your dog needs and how breed affects their stamina and energy. Read on for some awesome ways to get your dog moving in the new year.
How about a W-A-L-K?
You probably already walk your pet regularly, but have you considered turning your dog’s normal walk into a superpowered exercise routine?
Start by trying something new. For example, you might follow your dog wherever they want to go (within reason, unless you like chasing squirrels up trees!) or build in a quick sprinting interval every block or so for a change of pace.
Consider setting a daily walking goal in distance or minutes and increasing the goal each week, or adding elevation to your daily walks by choosing some hills to climb. Check out this list of easy ways to upgrade your walk.
In warm weather, consider some dog-aquatics! A dog-friendly lake or swimming pool might be the perfect place to burn some calories with your pet.
There are a few important safety tips to remember when taking your dog swimming. First, be careful with pools—the chlorine may cause eye, nose, or ear irritation for dogs, so you should always rinse your pet off with clean water after exposure to a chlorinated pool or other potentially irritating water sources.
Second, be sure your pet knows how to swim. Check out this helpful guide to teaching your pet to swim safely.
Go for a Hike
If you live near natural beauty, try hiking with your dog. Canyons, valleys, mountains, and river trails are all great places to get in some extra workouts when the weather allows.
Before you head out on the trail, check that the area allows dogs and is safe for your dog to hike in. It’s best to keep your dog on a leash (and obey signage and park rules).
A dog first aid kit, plenty of water, leash, ID tags, and snacks are essential. If you’re hiking in snow or on sharp rocks, consider some dog boots to protect your pet’s feet.
Does your dog have a spring in their step? Agility training might be a great way to burn some calories, tone some muscles, and keep a smart pup entertained.
There are lots of great ways to get into agility training, and many levels to work with—beginners can start by practicing some basic moves at home. With a few simple props, your pet can develop their balance and stamina and challenge their brain.
Start slow and offer your dog lots of rewards and praise to make the learning process positive. If your pet shows a knack for agility training, you might try a class or even a competition.
If you’ve got a very active dog with a talented schnoz, consider introducing them to nosework. This activity is generally done as part of a class or training group and can be great for helping an overly excited, anxious, or energetic dog focus and relax.
Calmer dogs might enjoy participating in yoga (er, Doga) with their humans. The peaceful flows that calm your nervous system, decrease blood pressure, and help stretch and strengthen muscle groups will do the same for your dog.
Depending on your location, you might be able to find a yoga class you can bring your dog to. It’s also easy to get started with your shared practice at home.
Dance the Day Away
Dancing is great exercise for your dog, and it’s great for their brain—the concentration required for more complicated dances will test even the most intelligent dogs. Get your paws on the dancefloor!
Try a Jog
An oldie but a goodie—the classic jog is great for humans and dogs alike. Get your blood pumping and take your pet out for a dash through the neighborhood. If you’re working jogging into a new exercise routine, try setting speed or distance goals to help increase your dog’s stamina.
Though jogging is awesome for your dog’s health, be sure to check their paws for irritation, avoid running in hot weather, and provide plenty of water. Finally, don’t forget to stop for a sniff!
Fetch, Chase, or Tug
Stuck inside on a rainy day? You and your dog can get plenty of exercise indoors with a few games up your sleeve. Start with the classic: fetch! Grab your dog’s favorite squeaky toy and find a hallway or open area. If your dog isn’t much into toys, try throwing a treat or a piece of kibble instead.
When your dog has fetched all they can fetch, consider a game of chase or tug. Not only will your dog get to have fun playing with you, but they’ll also get in a great workout.
Hit the Dog Park
If your dog gets along well with others, you can take them to a dog park or indoor off-leash space for a romp. Dogs naturally expend tons of energy when playing together.
It’s best to keep an eye on your dog’s body language while they’re playing to make sure the fun isn’t getting out of hand. If your dog finds a BFF (other than you, of course), you can even invite them over for a playdate!
Don’t Overdo It
It might be tempting to plunge in with an ambitious workout plan, but remember that moderation and consistency are key to maintaining a healthy routine. In general, it’s best to start slow to avoid injuring your pet (or yourself).
You’ll also want to consider your pet’s age and health, how much time you have to spare, and what you and your dog can reasonably stick to. Get creative and get your dog moving!
Featured image: Flickr