All dogs need to be exercised every single day without exception, and there is no getting around this. However, dogs of different ages, fitness levels and particularly, breeds and types need vastly different amounts of exercise, and this is one of the most important factors to consider when picking the right dog breed or type for you.
Whilst a few dog breeds at the very bottom end of the exercise spectrum will be happy with just one gentle half hour walk a day (like some English bulldogs) other breeds like the Border collie really won’t thrive without several hours of busy, lively exercise every single day.
Sometimes, providing enough exercise for your dog’s exact needs can be hard, but as well as of course the length of time for which you walk them and the distance you walk with them during that time being a factor, how active your dog is, how hard they work during those walks, and the distance they themselves cover is a huge factor too.
This means that the type of exercise you provide for your dog, what you do on walks, and how you go at things has a huge impact on your dog’s fitness and happiness with the amount of exercise they receive – and these are all things you can fine-tune.
As mentioned, every dog has minimum daily exercise requirements and you can’t short-cut these – but are there ways to provide your dog with more exercise without increasing the time you spend on it, or alternately, the distance you walk with them? Yes.
In this article, we’ll tell you some ways to give your dog more exercise and boost their fitness and level of exertion without adding on time or alternately, distance to your own walks. Read on to learn more.
The best and most obvious way to get your dog to exercise more effectively within the time you have is to pick up the pace – if yourself and your dog walk more briskly, you can cover a greater area and so provide more exercise and wear your dog out faster than if you just amble along.
You can apply this as covering the same distance on your walk but a little faster, or as taking the same length of time but going further; and to provide more exercise for your dog, look at going further within the same period of time.
Encourage socialisation out on walks with other dogs in the dog park, and try to get your dog involved in group play with others. Dogs are generally very playful and energetic when in a group situation, and will push themselves harder and expend more energy when playing with other dogs than simply when walking on the lead or sniffing around at the edges of the park.
Your dog will generally cover several times the distance you yourself do on a walk if they’re off the lead (and even if they are) as they rarely walk along in a linear fashion other than when walking to heel.
There are lots of ways to get your dog to cover a greater number of miles on their walk than you yourself need to, such as by throwing a ball or Frisbee for them to retrieve several times, or by enabling a tracking or scenting game with some props.
You yourself don’t have to walk any further!
Dogs need the relevant amount of physical exercise to meet their needs, but the importance of mental stimulation should not be overlooked either. Mental stimulation also rewards and tires out your dog, and is apt to make them work harder physically too.
Incorporate training into walks, give your dog direction, provide problems to solve, and harness their natural skills like pointing, retrieving or tracking, depending on their breed.
Get your dog involved in a canine sport like agility or heelwork, and you will likely find that you’ll get a little fitter as well – but nowhere near as much as your dog does!
All canine sports require both mental and physical fitness on the part of your dog, and just half an hour of practice or participation in many of the more active canine sports is comparable to a much longer period of time undertaking many more sedentary forms of exercise.
Don’t see exercise as solely something for your dog’s walks – let them out in the garden, encourage them to play, and generally look for small opportunities to get your dog moving a little more.
If you’re finding it challenging to meet your dog’s exercise needs due to time constraints or mobility problems, why not consider getting some help? Whether this be hiring a professional dog walker, giving the kids a task (and a way to increase their own fitness too) or roping in friends with dogs to swap group walking duties, there may well be a range of options for you to explore.
One thing to bear in mind is that any method of upping your dog’s exercise levels or trying to get them working harder on walks needs to be undertaken sensibly and with care. You should not push your dog too hard in order to try to shorten the time it takes to tire them out, and always factor in things like the terrain, hot weather, your dog’s fitness, and any health issues.
If in doubt, speak to your vet for their advice and insights on the best way to proceed.