6 Fun Ways to Get Fit With Your Dog

Hide-and-seek. Reinforce your dog’s recall skills by playing this game indoors or in an enclosed outdoor area. Start by getting your dog in a sit-and-stay position. Then, hide and call your dog by using his name and saying, “Come.” Make a big to-do when he finds you and offer praise and small treats. The goal behind this game is to teach your dog that fun things happen when he heeds the “come” cue.

Agility. Dogs are not the only ones who need to be in shape to participate in this popular obstacle course sport. Their human teammates must also be able to turn, pivot and run while offering hand and verbal signals to their dogs to climb ramps, dash through tunnels, leap through tires and wriggle through weave poles.

Dancing dogs. Whether in the privacy of your living room or before a crowd at a canine musical freestyle competition, doing the cha-cha and other dance steps with your canine dance partner offers a fun workout.

Surprise Benefits

When it comes to making your pet your favorite workout buddy, consider this added bonus: Pets that exercise regularly tend to exhibit fewer behavior problems. “They are less likely to chew shoes, scratch furniture, bark excessively or commit other misdeeds because they have appropriate outlets for their energy,” says Dr. Becker.

Ageless Advice

Dogs of all ages need regular exercise to help keep their heart, lungs, joints and digestive and circulatory systems healthier. As pets get older, however, they often need their owners to modify their activity levels. Consider:

  • Rather than taking your senior dog on one brisk, 30-minute walk, switch to two 15-minute walks at a moderate pace — once in the morning and once in the evening — to be less taxing on his aging joints.
  • Swimming can also be a good exercise for older pets, especially if they have arthritis.

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