According to the ASPCA, dogs who are exercised and played with tend to be more social, less destructive and overall better companions. Spending quality time with your dog and staying active has numerous health benefits for you and the dog. Exercise and activity naturally keep your dog happy. Regular shared outings can facilitate lifelong bonding between the two of you.
Get a Checkup
Just as health clubs and fitness centers advise new members to get a doctor's approval before beginning a new exercise routine, the same holds true for your dog. Take your pup to your vet for a full checkup before you launch into a new fun-and-fitness regime. If your dog is overweight or has existing health problems, your vet may caution you about the animal's physical limitations and recommend exercises that are most appropriate for him.
Your dog will love games like fetch, agility and obstacle course running, or even playing “keep away” in the yard. Make exercise time fun by getting involved yourself. Encourage your dog to chase you, catch a Frisbee or jump into a lake to retrieve a stick. Your pup will be happy that he's pleasing you, and he'll get in a good dose of exercise in the process.
Go for a Walk
Take your dog with you for a walk, run or hike. Being with you will make your pup happy, and you’ll both get quality cardiovascular exercise in the process. Taking your dog out in public places is also a good way to socialize your pup, which will make him calmer and better behaved in public venues. Extend your walk to destinations like a park, farmer’s market, a playground or a pet-friendly outdoor shopping venue.
Integrate Your Hobbies
If you can incorporate your dog into your hobbies that involve physical activity, give it a try. For example, if you like riding bikes or swimming, try bringing your dog along and see how well he fares. Some activities may require special training and adjustment, but many means of exercising with your pet can be well worth your while. They'll keep your pup happy and support his ongoing good health. Always use safety precautions and keep your dog leashed in public.
Small dogs, in particular, can benefit from indoor exercise, as can larger animals when the weather is bad. Small dogs can chase tennis balls up and down stairs for a good workout, while bigger dogs can follow a laser pointer around the room as it bounces off walls and furniture. Always clear space in your home to make sure your possessions and your pup are safe from harm when having indoor exercise. Also be mindful of the limitations of older dogs and dogs who are prone to joint disorders associated with too much climbing.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.