Each New Year, many of us make resolutions. This year, why not resolve to get some exercise with your dog? There are exercises you can do every day in your home and also organized clubs to join.
Before starting any exercise regime, be sure to do two things:
- Have your dog examined by your veterinarian to determine if he is healthy.
- Learn how to do the exercises correctly by doing some research into training and safety.
Of course, walking and running top the list. You don't need any new equipment, and you don't need to learn rules - well, your dog may need to learn to walk next to you so he doesn't pull you over. Start slowly, and increase both the pace and distance a little bit every day. After awhile, you both can increase your aerobic exercise, even including running up and down stairs. And then you may take it on the road by rollerblading, cycling, hiking, or skiing. Again, learn safety first.
Indoors, you can teach him to Find It, which is the foundation of canine nosework, tracking and search and rescue. Start with a handful of small treats and just toss them on the floor in your living room and tell him to Find It. Go with him, and tell him what a good dog he is when he finds the treat. After he finds them all, throw the next batch further away from you. After he finds all those treats, put him on a Stay and hide them in another room. Finally, hide them behind the door, under the bed, etc. Now you're ready to take it outside. You go out first and hide the treats. Then bring him out on a leash and go with him as he finds each treat.
Another indoor exercise is doga - where you and your dog do yoga poses together or you may stretch and massage him. Or you can try dancing with your dog. There are books and videos on how to do both of these.
If you would like to get into more sophisticated exercises, there are numerous organized clubs and organizations that will guide you in teaching him agility, flyball, dock diving, disc throwing and herding, just to name a few.
But if your idea of exercising with your dog is for him to do the exercise with as little effort as possible on your part, my favorite game is Fetch. Additionally, Fetch is one of the best exercises to teach your dog - he runs away from you (teaching him the Go Out), he comes back to you (teaching him to Come), he brings the ball or toy to you (teaching him to Carry), and he shares with you (teaching him to Drop It). Wow, all that and all you do is throw an item.
Remember that while you're exercising together, you're also teaching your dog impulse control, obedience, and relaxation as well as strengthening the bond between you. Whatever exercise you decide to do, the best exercise is to simply have fun together!