April is National Canine Fitness Month. That means it’s the perfect time to get out there with our pups and move. Our loyal companions suffer from obesity, sedentary lives, and lack of mental stimulation across the United States. Dogs need a minimum of 30 minutes of activity per day. Conveniently, so do humans. Now is the time to build exercise, playtime, and games into our daily habits to keep all of us, canine companions included, mentally healthy and physically fit. Ane because not all of us can move with ease, and some of us have senior dogs who need gentle activities, we’ve included games and exercise ideas that will get the blood pumping and release those endorphins, without requiring great physical strain.
Ways to Celebrate Canine Fitness Month:
Walk at any pace. Getting 30 minutes of exercise doesn’t mean we need to power walk for miles. We can all choose to walk at a pace that is comfortable for guardian and pup. For those of us just getting started with more physical activity, begin with shorter walks. Our pups can get sore muscles, just like we can. When it comes to senior dogs, watch for slower movement or limping the next day. Consider mixing up day-to-day activities to keep things interesting, and to minimize soreness.
Play fetch. Throw a frisbee, a ball, a stick, or a toy. We can even consider running with Fido to get the ball. That adds a little excitement for everyone. For breeds that aren’t accustomed to, or very good at playing fetch, try a treat dispensing ball. Use low-calorie treats, and we should help to keep the ball moving and dispensing for the entire play period. That way our pup doesn't get bored, we are still part of playtime, and we get a little activity in with our pup.
Take the stairs. This is common advice for people, but canine companions can use the stairs too. This is a great activity for fur-families who live in climates where outdoor exercise isn’t a year-round option. Introducing a toy at the bottom of the stairs and a low-calorie treat for reaching the top can be a great way to pause and enjoy play at intervals together. For senior dogs or those with injuries, this activity may not be a good choice. We should always double check with a veterinarian before making a final decision about exercise regimens.
Obedience and training. These aren’t just training activities for puppies. A mature dog may be used to certain signals and may take longer to learn new skills and habits, but an old dog can learn new tricks! It’s all about a guardian who can listen and teach. We can even bring in a professional trainer for more advanced tricks or to better understand how our body and voice signals can be best understood through the eyes of our pup. Mixed signals from guardians is one of the most common training setbacks. So, spend some quality time each day, learning, teaching, and bonding.
Swim laps or just splash around. Not all dogs are water dogs, and not all dogs are strong swimmers, but there are plenty of dogs who love the water. We can jump in a pool or a pond together. We can play fetch with floaty toys. And we can even consider paddle-boarding with our Good Boy. Swimming is great exercise. It’s low impact for those with injuries. And swimming is a great way to cool down on hot days.
Create obstacle courses. We can hide toys and treats, move furniture, create blanket tunnels, rearrange chairs and run around them - anything that will get both, Rex and his guardian up and moving around. The best part about obstacle courses is they can be created year-round, indoors or outdoors, and we only need to make a mess we are willing to clean up. Hide and seek with toys and treats is just as fun as running around dining room chairs, up and down the stairs, and rolling under tables. Obstacle courses don’t have to involve tunnels and forts every time. And if we ever decide to get more advanced, agility training is perfect for many breeds who love to learn and stay active.
Blow bubbles. Sometimes we end up looking after a dog who likes activity, but we just can’t keep up. In this case, hiring a dog walker can be the best fix. But that may not be possible every day. So, how can we keep our pup active and engaged? Bubbles. Be sure to use dog-friendly soap that won’t irritate skin or eyes. Then blow bubbles. Not every dog will love this. In that case, try seated tug-of-war games with Fido’s favorite toy, or opt for other low-intensity games. Either way, the point is to engage the brain and get the blood moving. Most dogs love to try and catch bubbles. It’s hilarious to watch, creates great photo ops, and is an easy game for guardians that can’t get up and out every single day.
EcoTreats. Creative exercise can mean integrating treats, especially if more exercise means adding some training elements. We certainly don’t want to compromise our pup’s fitness by using treats that will cause digestive discomfort, like gas. And treat that lack nutrition or have a high-calorie content aren’t ideal either. Vet Organics has all-natural treats that dogs love. Try EcoTreats Slow-Roasted Beef Lung Tips. They don’t contain by-products and are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They're also grain-free, gluten-free, and suitable for all life stages. Give EcoTreats a try and let us know what you and your pup think!
What’s your favorite workout? Are you trying something new for National Canine Fitness Month? Take pictures and share them with us on Facebook and Instagram, using #VetOrganics and #CanineFitnessMonth!