As we head into the fall months, now’s the perfect time to reassess your dog’s exercise routine. With the soaring summer temperatures, you may have had to limit your pup’s daily movement for their own safety, but now that things are cooling down it’s time to look for ways to pump up – or as we like to say ‘pup up’ – their exercise routine.
When looking to revamp your dog’s workouts it’s important to take into consideration their breed, as it strongly influences the level of physical activity they need. High-energy breeds such as Collies, Shephards, and Retrievers require much more intensive exercise than their lower-energy counterparts like Bulldogs and Basset Hounds.
You’ll also want to take your dog’s health into consideration. This is not to say that if they have a medical issue they need to stop exercising, but it may impact the intensity and type of exercise that you do. For example, if they have hip dysplasia or heart issues, you’ll want to find activities they can do without discomfort or putting extra strain on their heart. In cases like these, the best person to help you determine the right routine for your pet is your vet.
Now, let’s get into all the ways you can ‘pup up’ your four-legged friend’s fitness this fall!
Just like with your own workouts, it’s important for pets of all ages to have a proper warm-up and cooldown when they exercise. A brisk five- to ten-minute walk on either end of their workout will get their muscles warmed up before they start as well as keep blood pumping to flush out toxins that build up during exercise. Keep in mind that senior dogs can take a bit longer to warm up, especially if they have arthritis or muscular issues.
Don’t let the size of your home limit your pup’s exercise routine. On days with inclement weather, extreme heat, or even lack of time for a proper outdoor workout, try getting creative with your indoor space. If you have access to stairs in your house or building, running up and down a few flights of stairs is a great option for a short, but killer, workout. Similarly, if you have a treadmill that could use another set of feet – or paws – on it during the week, start training your dog to safely use it. Start with walks at low speeds and slowly build it to a light jog, but always closely monitor your pup while using it. If all else fails, a good old-fashioned game of fetch can also help your pup work up a sweat.
Even if you live in an urban area with minimal green space, there are plenty of ways you can pump up your pup’s exercise routine in your neighborhood. Agility is a great sport for dogs of all ages, as it helps keep them both mentally and physically fit, plus, you don’t necessarily need to build your own course to be able to enjoy it. When out for a walk, look for elements in the environment that could double as part of an agility course. Things like low walls they can jump over, traffic cones or poles that they can weave around, or even benches they can walk across are all excellent options.
Swimming is another good choice for dogs that enjoy the water. If you don’t live near a dog beach, many parks will have bodies of water that well-behaved dogs are allowed to swim in – just be sure that they don’t disrupt any local wildlife! If you don’t live near a pet-friendly body of water, see if your local outdoor pools have a dog day at the end of the season.
The easiest way to increase your dog’s exercise routine is by finding a way for them to join activities you already do. If you’re an avid runner, start training your dog to run alongside you. Just like any human who first starts to run, your dog will have to build their endurance up over time so start by taking them on shorter routes where you can alternate between walking and running.
Similarly, if you enjoy spending time hiking, look for trails nearby that are suited to your pup’s current level of fitness. Over time, they’ll build up the endurance to join you on more advanced hikes – perhaps even one of these top pet-friendly trails!
You could even try bringing your dog along for a bike ride, as long as it’s safe for them to do so. If your dog seems to enjoy running while you cycle, you could even try ‘bikejoring’ – a sport similar to dog sledding where they pull your bike using a harness.
When it comes to daily exercise, it’s as important for a senior dog as it is for a puppy. While your dog may slow down with age, this doesn’t mean that they should stop moving completely. Instead, look for ways you can modify activities that they’ve always enjoyed doing! For example, if they usually join you on hikes, swap a rugged trail with a smoothly paved path in a low-incline wooded area.
Similarly, if your pup has always been a water dog, wearing a life jacket can provide additional support and allow them to take breaks as frequently as needed. If you’re not sure how to safely modify your pet’s favorite activity for their senior years, speak to your veterinarian – they’ll help you come up with ways to allow your senior pet to safely continue doing the activities they love.
Freshpet hope you’re feeling inspired to find some new ways to ‘pup up’ your dog’s exercise routine this fall! Have ideas that weren’t listed in this post? We’d love to hear them in the comments.