With Valentine’s Day in the February mix, you and your dog may be looking for a little more jazz in your daily exercise. Burn just few more calories and you can guiltlessly pamper yourself with one of those tempting boxes of chocolate and present an extra-special bag of Pampered Pets USA treats to the real Valentine in your life – your dog!
Even if you aren’t into chocolate and your dog is already a trim canine athlete, let’s shake up your routine this winter.
Here are 5 fun ways for you to exercise with your dog.
1. Follow the Leader
If you are like a lot of pet parents, your daily dog walk follows the same regular path. Why not change things up and let your dog choose which way to go? Dogs love to follow their noses, and too often we are taking this choice away from them. The next time your dog veers left instead of right or pauses to sniff, how about if you let them be the leader on the leash for a while?
On residential sidewalks, let your dog choose the direction to turn when you reach a street corner. On recreation ways, let your leashed dog explore the grassy edges on either side of the pathway. However, don’t wander too far from the marked trail in nature areas. Not only do you want to be certain you can find your way back, wandering off the trail can trample fragile plants and pack down the soil. There are still plenty of trailside wilderness sights and smells that your dog will want to pause and sniff.
Set boundaries so your dog can make choices without inviting a total free-for-all. When you get to a sidewalk corner, ask your dog to sit, hand out a treat, release them with an “okay” and see which way they go!
2. Feeding toys for your dog
Speaking of following their noses, it’s about time we helped our dogs exercise an organ that we often forget about: their sense of smell. Feeding toys are a simple way to tickle that nose and tweak that canine curiosity with some mental gymnastics. From treat balls to slow feeders to snuffle mats, there are so many ways to feed your dog their everyday kibble or some extra special treats. (Here are some tantalizingly sniffable treat suggestions if your dog can’t resist the smell of bacon or peanut butter.)
If you think a feeding ball won’t add any activity to your own exercise schedule, wait until you have to fetch the ball from under the chairs and tables where your dog will likely nudge it. In this game, you are the one who “fetches” the ball and your dog is the one who tosses it!
3. Yoga for dogs
Do you love yoga but find it hard to carve out time for it during the day? Make your dog your yoga partner and you will be able to combine yoga, exercise, and super-satisfying bonding time. You can gradually teach your dog some poses that are canine-comfortable, or just let your dog enjoy some gentle massage, acupressure and stretching. Clear any stretching exercises through your veterinarian first, especially if you parent a senior pup.
Some cuddle-centric dogs will immediately relish the close contact, others may be wary, and some may bounce excitedly around trying to get you play. When introducing your dog to new activities, make sure you have the tastiest of treats on hand as a convincing reward. Pampered Pets USA treats are healthy, satisfyingly chewable, and can be broken up into small training-sized bites.
Quiet sessions together on the floor with treats and gentle massage will soon have your dog associating your yoga mat with tasty goodness – and lots of one-on-one attention from you.
Where to start? Search online for “doga” classes, check with local yoga instructors and your humane society, or just tap the wealth of videos and books online. Here’s an online "doga" class that you can begin together today!
4. Try Flirt Pole with your dog
If you have cats in your life, you are probably familiar with the feather wand that felines find so hard to resist. Did you know that some dogs enjoy this chasing game, too? A flirt pole for dogs consists of a floppy toy attached to a bungie-type rope and a sturdy pole. Playing with your dog and a flirt pole can be a total body workout for both of you. Purchase a pole online or even make one yourself. Want to see the pole in action? Check out this flirt pole video, and you can find others online as well.
5. Play canine "Hide and Seek"
We love to watch those internet videos of people hiding behind a doorway or under a blanket with their dogs happily hunting throughout the house to find them. Have you tried this yourself? Hide and seek not only adds exercise and interest to your dog’s day, it also strengthens their willingness to come when called. This could be a lifesaver if your dog ever bolts from your side in excitement or fear.
The SPCA of Texas has lots of hide-and-seek info on how to make this beloved childhood game simply perfect for dogs. Your pup has tons of incentive to track you down once they discover that there will be a tempting treat, a big hug and tons of praise waiting when they find you.
Be sure to “listen” to your dog by watching to see if they are engaged and happy with a new game. If hide-and-seek makes your dog anxious, you may want to teach your dog to come while you are fully in their view.
Enjoy broadening your dog’s horizons – and your own – by adding new trails, new tricks, and Pampered Pets USA treats to each day. These yummy treats have nothing but the good stuff: natural, healthy and wholesome ingredients that are free of by-products, sugar, artificial flavorings and colors. Pick out your dog’s favorite flavors for your next exercise adventure!
At Pampered Pets USA, we know you consider your pet to be part of the family and want nothing but the best for them. We are here to provide you with accurate and updated information that will help you give your furry friend a healthy and happy life.