Outdoor Exercise Ideas for You and Your Dog
Summer is just a few days away. Now is a great time to focus on the "Exercise" part of the fulfillment formula! Try new activities, visit a new location, and enjoy the sunshine and your dog's companionship.
No matter what physical activity you engage in, it is important to watch for signs of dehydration: lethargy, sunken or bloodshot eyes, dry gums, increased heart rate, paleness, and loss of skin elasticity. Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times!
Here are just a few activities to try with your dog:
Hiking is a great way to make your daily walk more exciting and challenging for your dog. Before you go, make sure the park is dog-friendly. Many outdoor parks and recreational hiking trails have restrictions on where you can take your dog both on- and off-leash, and many National Parks don’t allow them on hiking trails at all. While on your hike, do your part to keep the park safe and pleasant for others: clean up after your dog!
- Hiking can be hard work, so be sure your dog is physically up to the task. If you have any doubts, contact your veterinarian.
- Remember, particularly in the summer months, you should always carry water with you and watch for signs of dehydration.
- If you are going on a long hike, you may want to bring a small first aid kit with you, just in case.
- Be aware that your dog has tender paws, so try to avoid rough terrain, such as sharp rocks or dense underbrush. Be sure to use precautions against ticks and fleas, and check your dog when you get home.
- Consider inviting other friends and their balanced dogs along. A group hike is safer and more fun!
The summer months are the perfect time to take a dip with your canine companion. Swimming not only provides exercise and a great bonding experience, it also provides relief from the heat! Utilize your private pool, find a dog-friendly (and dog-safe!) fresh-water lake nearby, or invest in a kiddie pool for your backyard.
- ALWAYS supervise your dog. You can even find doggie life vests in most pet stores for some extra peace of mind!
- If you are unsure how your dog will react to the water, make sure to bring him to a controlled environment first. An enclosed pool area can be great, and for smaller dogs, your bath tub can also provide a great training experience.
- Chemicals and dirt in the water can be harmful to your dog's coat and health, so you should always give your dog a bath after you return home. If there is a shower facility at the pool or lake, you may even want to give him a good rinse before you leave.
- Drying your dog’s ears after swimming can help prevent ear infections.
- Planning a trip to the ocean? Read our beach tips!
You don’t need a dock for this activity; a lakeshore or other clean, safe area for swimming can work as well. Simply throw a floating toy out into the water, and ask for your dog to swim out and retrieve it for you. If you and your dog want to take the activity up a level, you can even join a Dock Diving club in your area and compete against other dogs! This has the added benefit of social interaction for you and your dog.
- Make sure that there are no hidden rocks or other dangerous obstacles in the area where your dog will jump into the water.
- Your dog should be a strong and healthy swimmer to participate in this activity. Start small, and consult your veterinarian if you have concerns.
- Before considering joining a dock diving club, make sure your dog is well-adjusted and supervise his social interactions at all times!
- Watch for signs of dehydration and over-exhaustion. Your dog can get so caught up in this fun activity that he loses track of his own well-being. Keep an eye on his physical health, and be sure to take frequent breaks to rest in the shade and enjoy fresh water.
This classic game is a great summer time activity. Put a twist on the activity by using a Frisbee or tennis racquet to make the object travel farther. Remember, smell is your dog’s strongest sense, so get his nose involved: give him a good whiff of the object before you throw it. Your dog should never control the length or intensity of play; you should be in charge of the rules of the game, and decide when the activity starts and ends!
- Make sure the object you throw is not dangerous to your dog’s health. Consider only using objects specifically designed for canine use.
- Know your dog! If your dog may be easily distracted by a nearby squirrel or an interesting scent, be sure to find an enclosed area for the game.
- Be sure that your dog is wearing identification. For further protection, consider investing in a tracking device, such as the Global Pet Finder, to ensure that your dog can be found immediately if he goes missing.
- Take frequent breaks and provide access to fresh water to prevent dehydration.
Besides the walk, what is your favorite spot to exercise your dog? Tell us in the comments.