Read these 24 Dog Exercise and Sports Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dog tips and hundreds of other topics.
Hiking is a great form of exercise, but if you are outfitted for long hikes, is your dog? You can take your dog along with you on hikes and backpacking trips, but make sure you follow a few rules and your comfort and experience can be maximized.
First, make sure the trip is appropriate for the dog's ability and size. Just about any dog could walk a few miles down a logging trail, but only good climbers with lots of stamina can climb mountains or go on extended trips. Make sure you have enough food: dogs can carry their own food and water in their own dog pack.
And if you're a gear head, you can outfit your dog, too, with appropriate dog clothes. Doggles, dog boots, dog coats and dog jackets are all appropriate, depending on the trip and how much you (or the dog) are able to carry. Remember to keep the dog well watered, especially during the summer. But also remember that dogs can drink from any spring or stream without having to worry about the same bacteria that can end a trip for their human companions.
Most of all, enjoy the trip. It's a great time for you and your best friend to be alone for an extended period, with plenty of exercise and fun for both of you!
Some breeds of smaller dogs that may be up for a short jog in the neighborhood. However, most toy breeds are not built for their athleticism and long distance endurance, so always check to make sure that you pooch is well hydrated and not over exerting himself. Flat-nosed breeds such as the pug are prone to overheating and do not do well in hot weather, so it is important to keep this in mind.
If you are looking for a sport for a larger breed of dog, try carting! Carting is a canine sport in which a dog pulls a wagon filled with supplies or people. Some larger dog breeds were bred specifically for pulling small wagons such as milk carts. This work has evolved into an activity enjoyed today by breeds such as Rottweilers or Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs among others. Special carts and equipment are available for enthusiasts.
Since your dog is a "senior citizen," he/she will need less exercise. The rule of thumb is the larger the dog, the shorter the lifespan, so while a tiny ten-year old Chihuahua is still very active, a ten-year old Shepherd would require a lot less exercise. Your dog will tell you if he needs less exercise; he won't be as interested in walks and chasing Frisbees as he was as a younger dog. Take your cue from your dog; if he isn't as interested in exercise has he used to be, don't force him!
However, it is very important that elderly dogs have at least some exercise; this will prolong their lives and prevent many health problems. Just like people, an elderly dog should get as much exercise as he wants and is capable of. Don't force him past his limits. If you have questions about your senior canine citizen's fitness, your veterinarian can answer these questions for you.
The answer here is yes, you do need to walk him. Believe it or not, dogs loose in a back yard seldom will get the exercise they need. Their time may often be spent sleeping or lounging. Try taking your canine out for a walk daily or several times a week to build strength, burn calories and for a change of scenery. His behavior will improve for they will have spent any pent up energy and you'll burn off a few calories at the same time!
If you want to combine your love of dogs, music, dance and performance, then try a new activity called canine freestyle or musical freestyle. Canine freestyle is a choreographed set of moves where you and your pooch display skill and teamwork to the backdrop of music. You´ll really build a bond with your dog in this activity! There are two camps to canine freestyle: one showcases the artistry of the dog's movements and one emphasizes the handler and dog's movement together. Both are excellent forms of competition for dog lovers to become involved in. Many of the smaller, more agile breeds do fantastic in this sport such as Poodles, Chinese Cresteds, etc.
Water work trials involves six main components: team swim (with human and dog), underwater and surface water retrieval, delivery in the water and to the shore, towing in the water, scent work in shallow to deep waters, and boating skills. Generally, any dog that is suited to be a strong swimmer can participate.
Once upon a time, a dog owner tossed a plastic disk for a dog and a canine sport was born. Now Frisbee is a popular competitive sport for dogs and people. Dogs get lots of exercise and also bond with their owners.
All dogs have a natural prey instinct. They will tend to chase moving objects. In order to teach your dog to catch a Frisbee, you can try and tap into this instinct. Start by teaching your dog to fetch and return a tennis ball. Reward your canine with praise or a treat each time he returns the ball successfully.
Next, throw the ball up in the air a short distance, close to your dog. There's a good chance the dog will naturally try to catch the ball before it hits the ground. Work with this skill until your pooch is good at catching and returning it. Now you're ready to start with short tosses of the Frisbee for your dog to catch!
There are two main variations of the Frisbee sport - canines participate in distance catching. Short distance involves multiple throws of the Frisbee or disc during a timed event. In long distance, the longest throw and catch wins. Freestyle consists of a series of short routines choreographed to music and involves multiple discs.
Frisbee is a sport which provides entertainment for the dog, the handler, and the spectator. And the best part? Almost any dog can participate in Frisbee due to its accessibility. All you need is open space and a plastic disc. Dogs with high energy and a good degree of athleticism tend to excel at Frisbee. Interestingly enough, a good number of dogs originally from animal shelters have been known to do well at Frisbee!
There are so many wonderful ways to exercise your dog and build a close relationship. Most dogs love being active and doing things with their owners. One of the easiest ways to exercise your pet is to take a walk with her each day. If you walk briskly and go far enough, you and your pet will get a good amount of exercise. If you have a big backyard or good fenced-in area, play an active game of chase and retrieve with a ball or rubber bone, a natural for your breed of dog. You can also teach your dog to catch and return a Frisbee. The amount of chasing, jumping and returning your dog does will be good exercise. Another good way to get your dog exercise is to pick up a competitive sport. Try learning about the sport of agility. Even if you never enter the competitions, you might train your dog in some of the jumps. A long with exercise, you'll forge a stronger bond with you canine.
Lure coursing is a competition where dogs chase a lure around a field. The lure has a number of turns in order to simulate prey darting back and forth. Competition is limited to the sighthound breeds, so called because they hunt mainly by sight rather than scent. These breeds include Afghan Hounds, Basenjis, Borzoi, Greyhounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Pharoah Hounds, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Whippets. Greyhounds and others of these fast breeds also participate in track racing.
Eventing is the triathlon of dog sports, consisting of three segments: dressage, cross country jumping and stadium jumping. In dressage the dog will perform an exact set of movements performed in the ring. Cross country jumping requires the dog to jump over a series of fences. The last phase, stadium jumping, tests the technical skills and physical fitness of the dog. Canine eventing has its roots from horse eventing. It is an excellent sport for those who wish to give their dogs advanced training.
If you own a hunting breed of dog, you may enjoy field trial competitions that test your dog's abilities to find and flush birds and then retrieve them. There are trials for pointers, retrievers and spaniels among others. Hunting trials is another consideration. In this competition, a hunting dog is tested not against other dogs, but against a standard. Your dog will be put through exercises including blind retrieves, honoring another dog's retrieve, and marking multiple birds prior to retrieval.
You might want to consider involving your dog in weight-pulling. This dog sport is suitable for breeds often used for sledding, such as Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. Each dog is attached to a cart or sled and pulls it a short distance through grass or snow. A variety of weight classes make this sport open to a range of dogs.
When sled dogs are mentioned, many people think of the demanding, 1,000-mile sled dog races such as the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. However, the sport of sled dog racing has shorter competitions that are more family friendly. The sprint races, with teams of three or four dogs, cover a relatively shorter distance of 4 to 25 miles. Families can also forgo the competition and enjoy recreational travel by dog team.
Dogs chasing balls are an age-old sight, but flyball puts a new twist on it. Competing in teams, dogs must jump low hurdles, push a flyball box to release the ball, catch the ball, and run to the finish line. One team has four dogs and they take turns much like a relay race. This great sport offers opportunities for training and exercise for a dog.
Canine agility has become one of the most popular dog sports around. It requires an excellent bond between trainer and dog. The trainer must guide the dog to do the course exactly right during a timed exercise. Agility gives the dogs plenty of great exercise as they jump over the bars and climb the ramps (and dog trainers get lots of exercise running the course as well!). Trainers encourage the canines through cloth tunnels, through weave poles, and other exercises that must be completed in correct order and in the precise fashion. The sport is open to dogs of varied sizes as the equipment can be adjusted -- even the Chihuahua can excell at agility! Clubs offer opportunities for training and for competition. If you are seeking a new activity for you and your dog, consider agility!
The amount of exercise dogs need is dependent on many different factors. This includes the dog's age, breed, size, level of physical conditioning, and temperament. Young dogs need more exercise than older dogs. Medium and large dogs bred for work of various kinds typically need more exercise than small dogs bred to be house pets. Some experts say dogs need up to 2-3 hours per day. You'll know from your dog if the exercise you provide is keeping him fit and allowing him to burn off "steam."
You also need to remember that amounts of exercise should change depending on the time of year. Dogs typically want less exercise during the heat of summer, but will appreciate a walk in early morning or evening when it is cooler. Of course walking is not the only way to exercise your dog. Swimming, catching Frisbees, jogging with you, and training for sports such as agility are other good examples.
If your medium to large sized dog loves to run and is always on the go, consider scootering. In this new sport, your dog works in a harness to pull you on a scooter or kickbike. It's a modified form of mushing that you can do with a single dog, and it's safer than pulling you on a bicycle. So slip your dog into a harness, attach him to a scooter, and mush on!
Dog lovers in New Zealand have combined elements of agility and flyball into yet another dog sport called flygility. Dogs fetch a ball from a flyball machine and return it to the handler. The added twist is the use of a longer course complete with agility obstacles.
Earthdog trials are tests designed especially for toy terrier dogs, for the terrier line of the canine species once had this as their 'job' and were bred for it.
In this test, the dog must navigate through an underground tunnel and find her quarry -- often a rat. Once she has located the quarry, she must "work" the quarry, which includes barking, scratching and pawing at it. At all times, during the earthdog trial, the quarry is protected from actual physical harm.
If your dog is agile, consider Flyball, the team sport for dogs. In Flyball, dogs take part in a relay race, with four dogs to a team. The Flyball course consists of four hurdles and a spring-loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball. In Flyball, dogs jump the hurdles, catch a ball, and then jump back over the hurdles. As each Flyball team member crosses the starting line, the next one goes out. The first Flyball team to have all four dogs finish wins the heat. The current record for a Flyball team is about 15 seconds. Flyball is regulated by the North American Flyball Association, which organizes tournaments around the country. There are also Flyball leagues in England, Belgium and Australia.
A basic agility course has a set of obstacles laid out in a field and includes the following:
A-frame - for navigating across Dog walk
Raised plank Teeter-totter or see-saw
Hinged plank Crossover
Platform with ramps on all sides
Tunnel - a vinyl tube to run through
Weave poles - markers to navigate in a weaving pattern
Table - elevated platform to jump and pause
Tracking competition demonstrates a dog's natural ability to identify and follow a scent. The track is laid out by a person called a "tracklayer". The tracklayer walks a path of several hundred yards and drops an object belonging to him, such as a wallet or glove. A dog uses only his nose to follow the path of the tracklayer and find the object. Since all dogs have the ability to track, competition is open to all breeds from sporting breeds to herding breeds to toy dogs. However, some breeds such as bloodhounds have been noted to be exceptional trackers. Hunting dogs also use tracking to following game. Rescue dogs use tracking to find lost children. And police dogs use tracking to trail criminal suspects.
Some larger active breeds of dogs, like Labrador Retrievers, may need up to eight miles of walking a day. Start a regular routine of exercising your dog to keep him healthy and fit. You can vary the routine by running, walking, and going for hikes. It's great exercise for the both of you. Smaller dogs, like Chihuahuas will do fine with a casual walk around the block.