If you’re trying to provide exercise for your pet, it’s great to get creative. Varying your pet’s exercise routine helps develop new brain pathways, prevents boredom that can result in unwanted behaviors, and offers options for pets with physical limitations, like seniors. Here are some exercises you can try with your pet.
Exercise Routines for High-Energy Dogs
When a regular leash walk doesn’t wear out your pooch, ramping up the speed may help. When you go out for a jog, why not bring your dog with you? Jogging is best for dogs who already have good leash manners. If you attach a larger dog’s leash to your waist, be sure to use a breakaway connection for safety.
Laser pointers are another way to help pets burn off steam (you can use them with cats too). Never point a laser at your pet’s eyes. Let your pet “catch” the light sometimes as a reward. For dogs with obsessive tendencies or OCD, it may be best to find another game or limit laser pointer time.
Hide and Seek
Have one person hide while another holds the dog back. Then, release the dog to go find the missing person. When your dog makes a find, offer a reward like a small treat or a favorite toy. Did you know this is how search dogs begin their training?
Obstacle Course and Agility
Obstacle course games build confidence and dexterity. You can set up cones and tunnels in your backyard and ask your dog to move through them in different combinations, looking to you for direction. You may also want to seek out an agility class in your area, to learn how to navigate trickier courses at top speed, including in competition.
Playing fetch is great for helping your dog exercise while also working on manners. Have your dog sit before each toss and release the retrieved object on command. Water retrieving is an excellent alternative when the temperature soars and your dog still needs hard exercise.
Suggestions for Seniors and Dogs with Limited Mobility
When you break out the yoga mat, have your dog join you in some basic up-down movement. If your senior dog is losing its hearing, this is the ideal time to teach hand signals for obedience. Use basic commands like “sit,” and incorporate a little stretching or massage at the end. You can use essential oils, like lavender, to increase relaxation.
Many dogs love to follow and chase bubbles. For dogs who can’t move fast, keep the bubbles nearby, and let them paw at them. Try one of the new bubble liquids scented for pets, and your companion will be even more intrigued. Hint: your cat will love bubbles too.
Find the Treat
Hiding a treat for your dog to find can be a wonderful way to keep your dog’s mind active even when it can’t go too far. You can hide a biscuit under a towel, or use a toy designed to release small treats as your pet noses it around the floor. Some cats like this activity too, and it’s great for inclement weather.
Exercise to Reinforce Behavior Modification
The leash walk is the perfect time to work on behavior modification with your dog. At every corner, for example, give a “sit” command. If your dog pulls or doesn’t listen, try using a nose halter. You can also keep your dog at heel by having treats nearby. No pockets? Use a clip-on rock climber’s chalk bag, found at outdoor stores.
Tour of the House
When you have housework to do, or when the weather is too harsh to go outside, clip your dog to your side with the leash and travel the house together. Your pup will love bonding with you this way, and like walking outside, you can work in essential obedience training. You’ll also know your pup isn’t getting into any mischief while you’re occupied.
Exercise for Cats
Feather and Chase Toys
Take advantage of your cat’s natural curiosity and prey drive to provide more exercise. Feather toys, wands, and other chase toys can be fantastic for keeping your cat engaged for hours. If your cat has a tendency to eat things it shouldn’t, keep the toys stowed when you’re not there to supervise.
Kitty Obstacle Course
Cats love to use obstacle courses. Ideally, they like to be up high in a room, which you can accomplish with feline perches or even nailing old tires and milk crates to the wall of a basement or garage. There are now even cat agility courses and competitions!
For cats who yearn to be outside, leash walking on a harness, which is more escape-proof than clipping to a collar, is heavenly exercise. While immunizations are recommended even for indoor cats, they’re vital if you take your kitty outside. Most cats need a little time to get used to a harness and being on a leash, so start inside and work your way gradually to the great outdoors!
For more information about your pet’s exercise needs, get in touch with Harbourside Animal Hospital today. We’re here to help you keep your animal companions happy and healthy.