The month of April is Active Dog Month. This month-long holiday is designed to get dogs and their owners outside to enjoy some exercise together! Helping your dog get enough activity is an essential component of maintaining his or her physical health. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for you, too.
Read on to learn more about how much activity your dog needs and to learn some ways to stay active, even if spring rains derail your outdoor plans.
Making sure your dog stays physically active is an important way to keep them happy and healthy. Exercise in any form is beneficial for your dog — the activity helps your pet manage his or her weight, which in turn can lead to healthy joints and a decreased risk of many health problems.
Physical activity also provides mental and intellectual stimulation for your pet. This is a major benefit for you as a bored dog will often turn to chewing or other destructive behaviors, so regular activity will protect your shoes and other belongings.
Finally, staying active with your dog is a great way to improve your relationship with them. Your dog loves every minute spent with you, and exercising and playing together can do a lot to strengthen your bond.
The amount of exercise your dog needs will depend on his or her size, age, and breed.
Puppies tend to have short bursts of energy throughout the day, while senior dogs will prefer a slow stroll through the neighborhood. High-energy dog breeds (such as Labrador Retrievers or Border Collies) will need more exercise than lower-energy breeds (think bulldogs or Bichon Frises).
You’ll also want to take into account any health issues your dog has. Your vet can help you figure out the appropriate intensity and frequency of exercise that’s best for your dog. Thirty minutes to two hours is generally a good range. If you notice your dog consistently getting into mischief, not sleeping well at night, or barking more than usual, these could all be signs that he or she isn’t getting enough exercise throughout the day.
Celebrate Active Dog Month by trying out some new activities with your dog! If the weather isn’t working in your favor, use these ideas for indoor-friendly exercise:
Hide and seek is a fun game to play with your pet. Get their attention, run away while calling their name, and praise them when they come find you. Eventually, you can up the difficulty by choosing more difficult hiding places or getting your whole family involved.
Take advantage of a rainy day inside to create an obstacle course in your home. Your garage is probably full of items you could use to build the course — old tires, hula hoops, cardboard boxes, and anything else you can find. Get creative as you build some agility-based obstacles and then help your dog navigate the course.
Has your dog long since mastered sit, stay, and heel? Branch out into some fun commands! Teach your dog to shake, spin, kiss, high five, sing, or any other party trick you can think of. And of course, it’s never a bad idea to reinforce the basics, too.
On days when the sun is shining, give these ideas a go:
You probably walk your dog on a regular basis anyway. For Active Dog Month, spice things up by finding a new trail to walk or inviting a friend to come along. Even turning left instead of right when you start around the block can help your dog stay more engaged.
Hit the backyard or the dog park for a game of fetch. Interactive games like this train your dog to be more focused — and all that running is a great way to burn off some energy.
The weather is warming up, and if it’s not storming, swimming can be a great option for you and your dog. This low-impact form of exercise is a good fit for dogs with joint issues or other health problems. Make sure to give your dog a life jacket and to find a safe place to swim, such as a local dog-friendly lake or pool.
There are countless other ways to stay active with your dog this spring – from agility work to tug of war and beyond. No matter which activity you choose, making a point to exercise with your dog will benefit you both.