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Five fun alternatives to walking your dog

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We all need a break from regular walks with our dogs. Here are five fun alternatives to shake up your routine.
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Dog running on green grass with a tennis ball in the mouth

Going on a walk can be the highlight of your dog’s day. A walk provides the chance to drain some of your dog’s energy and enthusiasm and allows you both to explore the outside world.

Most dog owners, however, walk the same route on the same paths in the same park day after day. There’s nothing wrong with routine – but changing it up every now and then can be stimulating for both you and your dog.

Check out these five simple alternatives to walking your dog:

1. Go for a jog with your dog 

If jogging or running is part of your regular exercise routine, bring your dog along for one of your shorter jogs to add some variety to the routine. Jogging gives your dog the chance to expend more energy in a short amount of time. If you’re using a leash, make sure you don’t get tangled in it and trip. You may find a longer leash or hands-free running leash works better, so your pooch can run ahead or off to your side.

Not all dogs are well suited to longer, or even shorter, jogs. Certain breeds – bulldogs or pugs, for example – just aren’t physically built for long runs. Neither are puppies or senior dogs – although you can find plenty of other ways to get your puppy to exercise.

Remember, if you do run with your dog, be considerate of when they want to stop – whether it’s to greet other dogs, have a sip of water or go to the toilet – even if it slows you down. Getting your dog to jog beside you without distractions can take a little bit of training. On warmer days keep in mind that your dog feels the heat faster than you, so keep your pace slower and your distance shorter. Remember that the goal is to spend quality time with your dog!

2. Meet with other dog owners 

If your dog is well-socialized, they will generally welcome an opportunity to play with other dogs. Like us, however, your dog may click with one dog and not another. If you take your dog regularly to dog parks you will eventually meet other dogs – and owners – who you both enjoy interacting with. Before you leave the dog park make sure you set up future “play dates” with the other dog’s owner. It’s a fun way for both you and your dog to expand your social network!

3. Play in the grass 

If you can find a large enough area where it is permitted and you can safely let your dog off leash, why not trade in the regular walk for a game of fetch. Almost all dogs love chasing a ball! A ball launcher can make the game easier for you and even more fun for your dog. Ball launchers allow you to launch the ball much further with barely any effort. Your dog gets to run longer distances and you get to feel like a big-league pitcher!

Agility training is another way to exercise your dog’s mind as well as their body. You can join an agility club or use items in your home or garage, or from a home improvement store, to build a homemade dog agility course: hula hoops for jumping rings, PVC pipes and joints for hurdles, and thick and sturdy plywood for ramps and platforms. You can also buy tunnels, plastic cones and other props from pet stores to complete the course.

4. Learn new tricks 

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and love playing a game of hide-and-seek with their treats around your backyard or inside your house. These brain games for dogs are stimulating for all their senses and give them a great work-out at the same time.

Use the same word or phrase each time (such as “get ready!” or “go find it!”) before your dog hunts for a treat to teach them how to play the game. Make sure you praise your dog after each round to help them remember how to play the ‘go find it!’ game in the future.

5. Walk on the treadmill 

Look no further than your standard treadmill if the weather is bad or if you are physically unable to walk your dog. Treadmills shouldn’t replace outdoor walks – dogs prefer the variation, sights and sounds of the outdoors, and obviously need to be outside to relieve themselves. If you have a dog that needs even more exercise, however, then a treadmill can provide an extra opportunity.

Remember: Never tie your dog’s leash to the treadmill and always remain with them while they walk to avoid injuries. If your dog has not used a treadmill before, you will need to help familiarize them with it.

Here’s how to give it a try:

  1. Give your dog a treat when you first put them on the treadmill.
  2. Set the treadmill to the lowest speed and continue to give your dog treats until they are completely comfortable.
  3. Slowly turn up the speed to a faster walking pace.

Keep your dog safe

Make sure your dog is safe and well-behaved while exercising by teaching obedience commands. Regularly work on your dog’s recall and other  obedience tricks  – such as “sit!” and “drop it!” – to make your exercise time safe and fun for everyone.

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