Spring is finally here, and if you are like us, you can’t wait to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air with your pet. Being active with your pet is a great way to stay healthy, strengthen your bond, and enjoy the many benefits of physical activity. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces disease risk, improves brain health, and strengthens bones and muscles—all which benefit you and your pet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are physically active for 150 minutes per week have a 33% lower risk of premature death than their inactive peers, and that benefit can extend to their pets. What better way to spend time together now, and ensure you have more years together later?
Before you head out, ensure you keep safety in mind. Limit your pet’s outdoor time when the weather is hot or humid, and always bring along water so your furry friend doesn’t become dehydrated. Prior to starting any regular exercise routine more vigorous than walking, check with your family veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy enough. With a clean bill of health, you can begin planning a spring full of activities with your best buddy. Start out with these five ideas:
Your dog is a great accountability partner, because once you get into a walking routine, they won’t let you forget your daily stroll. If your pooch isn’t used to daily exercise, start with a leisurely walk of a mile or less. As they acclimate to the regular activity, you can slowly increase your speed and mileage, but slow down if your pet becomes out of breath, or tires, during your walk.
Once your dog is used to a fairly quick walking pace, you can increase to a slow jog. You should check your pet’s paws after each run, to ensure they doesn’t develop blisters or other injuries from the pavement.
Once your pet has mastered walking, venture off the beaten path, and take them hiking. The sights, smells, and sounds of a new environment provide excellent mental stimulation, which is as important as physical exercise for your pet. Unsure where to find a nearby trail? Check out Step Outside or Trail Link for local trails, and lace up your hiking boots. Make a list of trails you want to check out, including some further away that can be day trips. Ensure you check local park and trail closures, due to current social distancing orders, before you head out.
If you have never tried agility training with your pet, you are in for a treat. Almost every dog can be taught to master an obstacle course, and you will both have fun in the process. Look for a local agility training program, sign up for a beginner’s class, and your dog will enjoy the benefits, such as:
Agility training is rewarding because, unlike most other dog training courses, the goal is to enjoy time with your four-legged friend, regardless of how quickly they pick up new skills. You can also build a home agility course, which you can teach your dog to navigate. Simple obstacles, such as wobble poles, cones, and tunnels, can create hours of fun and activity for you and your pet.
High-energy dog breeds, such as border collies and Australian shepherds, may enjoy keeping busy with more intense sports, such as:
Search for sporting events available in your local area, and sign up for a beginner’s class to spend more active time with your pooch, and make new friends.
Not all activities require the great outdoors—you and your pal can enjoy indoor activities on rainy days, or between your outdoor fun. Doga is a new craze that pairs calming yoga with the benefits of quality pet time. You can also play hide-and-seek, by telling your dog to stay while you hide, then calling them, and seeing if they can find you. Or, create a scavenger hunt for your dog by hiding toys and treats around your home, and seeing if they can sniff them out.
Adding daily activities you and your dog can enjoy together will provide quality time and the benefits of exercise—a win-win. However, if a health problem or injury is holding your dog back from enjoying the benefits of activity with you, contact us.