Guest Post by Sadi Khan
Dogs need exercise and physical activities as much as humans do. It keeps them happy and healthy (both physically and mentally). This is why it is not enough to just take your dog out for a walk. You are missing out on a lot of fun and health benefits if that’s the only thing you do with your dog.
Let’s have a look at some healthy ways to have fun with your dog.
Running has a never-ending list of benefits for you and your dog. It improves cardiovascular health, keeps obesity at bay, improves mood, and boosts mental health. You cannot get the same benefits from walking because running is more intense and uses different muscles. You will also see an improvement in your dog’s behavior because running will help him burn a lot of energy. You can do a short, light paced jog with any breed, but active breeds like terriers or shepherds can run relatively long distances as well.
Walking or running with your dog in the neighborhood is great but you might get bored after doing it consecutively for a few days. The best way to deal with this monotony is to change the terrain and go hiking. There are some really good options in Western North Carolina and the Upstate, including trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Search the web to find a dog-friendly trail near you. Hiking will be a great experience for dogs who naturally want to explore.
If you are not much into running, you can ride a bike and use a biking leash to have your dog tag along. It is a great workout for big, strong dogs and they will be less destructive at home. Mountain biking is also an option (without a leash). However, you need to make sure your dog is young and fit enough to take part in this exercise. It can be too exhausting for young puppies, very old, or small dogs to run while you ride a bike. Choose a cool time of the day and do it only for a short period.
4. Go to a dog park
There are great dog parks in Western North Carolina, such as Azalea Park and French Broad Dog Park in Asheville and the Morris Broadband Dog Park in Bill Moore Community Park in Fletcher. You and your dog will enjoy the outdoor time without a leash, and you can just sit and watch your dog play with other dogs. (Always keep an eye out for rough play, however, especially if you are not familiar with the other dogs.) Used appropriately, a dog park can be a great socializing experience for both dogs and their owners.
5. Play hide and seek
If you are looking for a fun activity that is less of an exercise and more of a game, then hide and seek is a great option. Initially, your dog will need some training (and treats) but once he gets the hang of it, it can be a lot of fun. It will improve your dog’s mental health, problem-solving, and recall skills.
6. Play fetch
Dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages already know how to play fetch. As hunting animals, it comes to them naturally. This activity is also a great way to interact and build a bond with a new dog.
This might come as a surprise but you can actually try dancing with your dog. It is a great cardio exercise if the weather or neighborhood doesn’t allow for running or biking. It will also build flexibility, stamina, and agility in dogs. You can follow tips and tutorials online or join a proper class, especially if you want to take part in some competition.
Don’t be so hard on them though. Not every dog can move it like Pudsey.
8. Events or competitions
You can find a lot of dog-friendly events and competitions, like dog races, disc dog, or dock jumping. You can also participate in one of these dog-friendly races. You will get to meet many dog owners, learn about other dogs, and discover lots of new products. Some of these canine-friendly events are meant for charities, so you will have fun while supporting a good cause.
During the summer, you can take your dog for a regular swim. Dogs can get irritated with the summer heat because they do not sweat and cool down like humans. It will take some time before they learn to swim, but once they do, most dogs will enjoy every bit of it. And it will be a great workout.
Traveling is one of the best ways to break free from a grinding routine and have some fun. Research confirms that leisure traveling can reduce your chances of a heart attack or developing cardiovascular diseases. Traveling with your dog is easier than ever because of all the dog-friendly accommodations available. Your dog can be especially great company if you are traveling alone and you will feel more secure traveling with him.
All these fun activities will help you and your dog live a happy, healthy life. Just make sure you have discussed any regular exercise with your vet before starting.
Image provided by author.
Sadi Khan is a research analyst and fitness blogger at Runrepeat.com. He believes regular exercise is crucial to your own health and the health of your dogs.