Exercising Your Dog, General, Playing with your Dog

Spring Is Finally Here! Some Exercise Tips for You and Your Canine Friend.

Spring has been very slow to come around this year in Southeast Wisconsin. Thank goodness it seems to finally be here! My dogs have had a hard time being cooped up this winter in some of these dangerous, sub-zero temperatures and are very happy that the warmer weather is just around the corner. Dogs do indeed experience spring fever, that’s pretty evident!

With this warmer weather comes the opportunity to finally spend some quality time outdoors with your pup. For those looking for ideas for activities to do with your dog, here is a helpful list.

  • Simply throw a ball, frisbee or other toy in the yard if your dog enjoys chasing things. This can be great exercise for a dog and can help drain their prey drive.
  • Play tug of war with your dog. This can be a fun, interactive game between you and your dog that works your dog’s muscles – and gives you a good workout too! A lot of people have concerns about playing tug with their dog, fearing that it may cause or encourage resource guarding and/or aggression but in most dogs this is not the case. The majority of dogs, once they “win” the tug game, will come running back with the rope right away to get you to engage with them in another game of tug. This is quite the opposite of resource guarding and is more like how humans play tug of war.
  • Go for a walk around your neighborhood. You can make it as short or as long as you’d like. This is a great way for you and your dog to get out of the house and yard and see new things, new smells, etc. It’s good, both mentally and behaviorally, for your dog to get out of the house once in a while.
  • Go hiking on your favorite trail. One of my favorite thing to do (and definitely Trisha’s favorite thing!) is to go hiking on our local and state trails. No matter what time of year it is, there are always beautiful things to see. I like to let Trisha wear a harness such as a Ruffwear Webmaster and put her on a 30 foot long line if the trail allows for it (or a 6 foot leash if it doesn’t) and allow her to smell things and go at her pace. This is one of the few environments where she gets to, for lack of a better word, run the show. We go however fast she wants to (unless she tries to chase a squirrel) and I allow her to sniff whatever she wants, go pretty much anywhere, she doesn’t have to maintain a heel, etc. It is very healthy for dogs to be allowed to use their noses and smell things like this. They need to be able to do this on a regular basis.
  • Another great spring activity is heading to the dog park! This is a great way for your dog to socialize and interact with other dogs. A word of warning though – your dog must be socially able to handle different types of dogs and be comfortable in a dog park setting. If there is a trouble maker at the park while you are there and you or your dog is uncomfortable with the situation, please, play it safe and leave. That’s the one tricky thing with dog parks. But if your dog is very social and the other dogs there are too, it can make for a jolly good time!
  • Geocaching is another fun thing to try with your dog. You and your dog can set out on a fun scavenger hunt adventure together and then share your journey online!
  • Going camping can be a fun way to get outdoors and spend some quality time with your dog. Trust me, if your dog loves the outdoors, he will likely love camping with you! And if your dog has a backpack, he can even carry his own gear! This is good exercise for him and works those muscles.
  • Barkour is a fun way to get some exercise for your dog! Try incorporating this into your next walk. If you don’t know what Barkour is, it is basically the doggy version of Parkour. It is a lot of fun. Check out YouTube to find videos of dogs doing it. Please be safe and start out small and easy if your dog has never done Barkour or Agility before. Encourage them using treats and small steps. They will soon get the idea and you guys will have fun together jumping over and bouncing off stuff!
  • Take an agility class! There are often outdoor agility classes around. Look for one in your area and see if it’s something you and your dog might enjoy.

There are many fun things you can get out and do with your dog as the weather starts warming up. This list is by no means complete. By getting out and spending quality time with your dog not only are you both getting exercise but you are increasing the bond between your bond. Be creative in what you do and how you do it and, most importantly, have fun out there!!

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