Fun and Creative Ways to Exercise Your PetAre you and your dog tired of playing fetch?  Is your cat acting up out of a longing for more diverse activity?  There are many fun and creative ways to exercise your pet, both novel and spin-offs of more traditional activities, that can freshen up your routine on pet exercise, and even your own.  Not only do these contribute to a healthy body, but with creativity and challenge they can also grow a healthy and confident mind.

Traditional

Here’s a reminder of the basics, which can be a good place to start with a dog if there are a lot of outside constraints: fetch, tug-of-war, tricks and obedience commands, and play-dates.  This last one can allow dogs to exercise at their own will and to create their own games.  

Sports

If you are an active person, chances are that you already take your furry fido on some of these adventurous outings.  The following list is a refresher, just in case something hadn’t occurred to you before: Flyball competitions, agility classes, tracking competitions, dancing, biking, fitness and yoga classes inclusive of dogs, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, kayaking, and running.  Learn more about how to best incorporate your dog into these activities here and here.  In the first link, you can learn about training some dogs for soccer – isn’t that exciting?!

Fun Twists

We also enjoy how the second link presents a handful of ways to spin staple exercise methods: let your dog lead you on the leash when it won’t intrude on someone else’s activities; running at their pace and allowing them to stop and investigate; practice tracking challenges at home with treats and toys or treats inside toys; and working out by doing rigorous exercises while your dog retrieves and returns during fetch.

Exercise Your Pet Indoors

Some of the above you can already do indoors, such as running around the house, workout fetch, tracking, all of the traditional methods, and maybe a gentle game of soccer (…maybe).  A healthy dog may also be keen on running up and down stairs.  Obstacle courses can also be an exciting change for your dog and a creative outlet for you.

Cats

Last, but not least, cats also need physical and mental exercise, and some of the same activities that engage dogs also animate cats, such as play-dates, obstacle courses, agility courses, treadmills or wheels, mouse- and bird- like toys and wands, treats, and teaching tricks and commands.  Cats may easily get bored with their toys, so it may help to cycle through toys, storing some while using others.  An at-home hockey rink with a ball in a tub or a cardboard box can also be oodles of fun for you and exhilarating for your cat.  Lasers, cat towers, and yarn are also standard favorites for cats and their companions.  Healthy doses of catnip for some cats can be enjoyable, but others become aggressive, and this doesn’t mix well with the usual stress of going to the vet.  Walking your cat on a harness outdoors or otherwise letting them roam in your backyard can also be enriching for your cat, although it may be more difficult for older cats to learn to walk on a leash and some cats also may never want to give up being outside.

As you consider these options for exercising with your pet, please keep in mind everyone’s safety and, related to that, your specific pet’s capabilities and limitations.  Always supervise your pets when they are on complex equipment such as wheels and kayaks, and be sure to give some trial runs and training getting into and out of, or onto and off of, such equipment.  Dispose of or pick up any toys or components of them that could cause harm, such as string in the digestive system or a large toy at the top of the stairs.  Should accidents happen, Longview Animal Hospital and our expert Veterinarians are only a phone call and a short drive away.  (903)-807-0887, 2500 Estes Parkway, Longview, Texas.