Similar to how people exercise to keep themselves healthy, a fitness routine for pets is also important to ensure their wellbeing.
Making sure your pet is exercising enough is a pet parent’s responsibility – the more they expend their energy, the better they sleep and function. It can be an extremely fun activity to do and will help you form strong bonds with your dog.
How much exercise does your pet need? We’ve got that question covered – but first, let’s take a look at some important details to consider before planning an exercise routine for dogs.
Exercise For Puppies
The first thing to remember is that unlike adult dogs, puppies have a limited amount of energy to spare, but lots of enthusiasm and curiosity. They’re babies; all parts of their body are still developing, and will only attain complete growth when they reach sexual maturity.
In the meantime, puppies will sniff, wander, run, jump, and do everything in-between as they explore the world around them and learn how to use their bodies. A common occurrence for pups are ‘zoomies’ – short periods where they release pent-up energy by running around excitedly at high speeds.
You could stick to simple exercises like walking and play-time to manage their zoomies. If you’re wondering why your puppies seem to be dashing all over the place, it’s just that all the pent-up energy is making them restless. Give them the space to run around and play – they’re also learning key motor skills while developing their muscles and joints.
A few minutes of exercise twice a day is sufficient to use up the additional energy. Allow them to explore their surroundings; make sure they’re relaxed. Once they flop down and are reluctant to move, it’s a sign that they’re done.
They can also manage their zoomies with play-time; gentle games that involve running around are recommended. Make sure you avoid any tugging or sudden jerky movements, especially jumping off of furniture, which can easily hurt them.
You could also get them stuffed plushies and interactive toys to play with; since puppies are very impressionable in their young age, this encourages proper training and keeps them from feeling bored.
You need to be careful with how much you’re exercising a puppy, as exerting them too much can lead to long-term damage. They have extremely soft growth plates within their bones; which puts their developing joints and bones at risk if they are over-exercised.
Talk to your vet to understand what exercises work best for your puppy’s breed.
Exercise for Adult Dogs
Have you been thinking how much exercise does your pet need when they grow older?
The amount and types of exercises they require certainly changes over time. Adult dogs are much more relaxed and can take in new surroundings a lot easier than puppies do. In the case of larger breeds, they may also develop good reserves of strength and stamina – allowing them to take on more than just walks and playtime.
The level of physical activity they need varies within different breeds. Breeds with high-energy levels, like Border Collies, should exercise a lot more than breeds with low-energy such as Bulldogs – whose builds and respiratory issues hamper their stamina.
Morning jogs are an excellent way to liven them up early in the day. These runs can last for about 30 minutes and can also serve as a form of light exercise for yourself.
You can adopt daily routines for your adult dogs to maintain optimum fitness levels, and keep them healthy. You can find an adequate week-long fitness routine for your pooch below, that covers a large variety of activities and can be mixed and matched as per your needs.
1 Week Workout Plan for Your Dog
Doing the same routine every day can quickly get monotonous. Maintaining your dog’s health should not be a drag for your pet, or for yourself.
It’s best to have a varied and creative fitness routine that involves all kinds of fun activities in an adequate amount. This variety also helps focus on different aspects that require attention while working out: strength, fitness, cardio, flexibility, and mental health.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “how can I exercise with my pet?”, fret not. We’ve designed the workout plan for your dog in a way we know you and your dog will enjoy. The best part is that you can benefit from exercising with them too!
Before you begin any day’s workout, warming up is absolutely necessary.
Stretching out their tissues and muscles helps them prepare themselves for the exercise that is to follow- you can get this done by simply letting them on a 5-minute loose leash walk. Your pet would be a lot more aware of their body, and their blood would get flowing.
Precautions To Take:
While determining what exercise is best for dogs, you need to remember that you can’t control your external surroundings entirely. It is best to engage in a few precautions to make sure your dog is safe:
- Always carry water with you, so they can remain hydrated at all times. Stay on the lookout for signs of a heat stroke, and immediately attend to them when necessary. As dogs cannot sweat as much as humans, you can also splash a bit of water on them to cool them off on hot days.
- Make sure that their collars aren’t too tight, and the harnesses aren’t too rough. Sudden harsh tugging can damage their respiratory system, and hurt their skin.
- Carry protein treats so they don’t starve, and coordinate these treats with the exercise scheduled for the day.
- Invest in paw slippers and moisturizers if you’re taking your dog on a trek.
The first day typically involves introducing your dog to the workout cycle. Get them ready on their paws, and start off slow.
We recommend beginning Day 1 with a simple classic – the walk.
It’s easy, fun, and not too energy-consuming. You can pick different trails according to you and your pet’s liking. They’ll love exploring their surroundings, and can work on getting along with other dogs if it’s a popular trail!
Indulge your dog in a little treat after every mile or two, for about 30 minutes – this will keep them energetic and motivated. Depending on your breed (and your schedule), you can also take your dog for a second walk – perhaps during the evening.
Running – it’s either an activity your pooch can’t get enough of, or simply isn’t too enthusiastic about. But you needn’t worry – positive reinforcement always helps get them on board.
If they’re running around in your backyard or on a treadmill, you won’t need a leash. However, local laws might require you to leash your dog while in public for safety reasons.
We recommend getting a hands-free leash, so you can run with your dog and train them to recall on command. This guide also shows you how to teach your dog to behave in a park.
Running is a great way to rake up the exercise quotient they need for the day. Start slowly and move up to higher speeds.
However, make sure to carry plenty of water on you and hydrate them periodically. Avoid running in hot weather as well, as hot asphalt can burn your pet’s paws.
Find out if your dog loves swimming. If they do, then let them splash around in water – it is an excellent way of boosting their metabolism and improving their blood circulation.
Swimming doesn’t strain the joints either; so if your dog has arthritis, they won’t over-exercise themselves while swimming. Make sure you have them wearing safety equipment such as a float jacket, until they’re comfortable without it.
Remember that not all dogs are suited to flat-out swimming. While labradors and retrievers are born swimmers, several breeds such as pugs and shih tzus can’t do much more than splash around, owing to their body structure.
If your dog doesn’t know how to swim, teaching them could be a lot of fun! If they don’t take to the habit fondly, there are other land-based alternatives as well. Playing fetch on the shoreline and walking on the sand is also a great workout, and allows your dog to experiment with water bodies at their own leisure.
If you can’t incorporate swimming into the routine, activities that encourage your dog to freely use their limbs would work. Consult your vet and make notes of what alternate cardio workout would suffice.
Simply letting your dog chase you around by playing games like ‘Catch Me If You Can’, or jumping in safe obstacle-free places for a few minutes count as cardio too!
Exercising with pets can be super fun if there’s games involved.
Popular pet-friendly games like hide-and-seek, fetch, and tug of war constitute a moderate workout for your dog, not to mention how excited they get while playing.
Games are also a great segue into training your dog to obey commands. You can incorporate easy tricks like weaving and twirling into these games for them to learn, using treats as a form of positive reinforcement.
Tug of war is especially useful if you’re looking to regulate any destructive chewing tendencies. Bring your friends over, and plan games that will have all of you entertained and spent!
If you and your dog both love nature and quality time, hiking might be the perfect workout for both of you – especially if you’ve got some spare hours on a weekend.
Many benefits of exercising with your dog can be enjoyed while on a hike – you learn how to navigate around rugged terrains, climb steadily, and bond with your dog as well.
Start with short hikes during the daytime, and stick to clear weather. Always carry safety equipment and enough water. You can explore more difficult trails when you and your dog are sure of your footing – hiking can have quite a high skill ceiling, especially if you want to plan overnight trips.
In case hiking isn’t an option available to you, you could hide extra-smelly treats around your home and your backyard and have them find it. You could also get them a snuffle mat, which would help them gain the natural foraging skills that they’d sharpen while on a hike.
This day can involve a simple at home workout with your dog, as a break from the constant outdoor activities we’ve explored so far.
Indoor exercises include running up and down the stairs, getting on the treadmill, and agility training. These also come in handy if there’s a rainy day.
During these exercises, you can practice commands like recall, retrieving objects, and movement through positive reinforcement. This helps mentally stimulate them, and is incredibly fun to accomplish as a dog lover!
If your dog can become troublesome without mental stimulation, make sure you talk to your vet to understand what training works best for them.
The last day of the week can involve dog sports.
These sports can be of varying intensity – energetic or moderate. You can either participate in these with your pet or have them play solo.
Your dog’s agility can improve by having them leap over obstacles and navigate through tunnels. This is also a great method for obedience training, given that your commands are required to complete the course.
Fly balls and dog discs are also sports that dogs can thoroughly enjoy while improving their physical form.
Remember, mix and match these options depending on your free time, your dog’s stamina and strength levels, as well as the weather conditions. For hikes or beach visits, plan a few days in advance to ensure that the excursion is safe for both you and your dog.
Why Exercise is Important for Your Dog
Maintaining a proper fitness routine for pets ensures that they’re at the peak of health. To further elaborate:
Have you ever wondered just how much exercise a dog needs in a day?
The answer? Enough to keep obesity at bay.
Tackling obesity can get very tricky if your pet’s food consumption and physical activity are left unmonitored. A few minutes of exercise and a few diet changes can go a long way in preventing this deadly situation.
Ensuring that your dog is well stimulated mentally helps them stay active and interested in their surroundings. Lack of exercise can lead to disengagement, which in turn leads to obesity.
Make sure they’re in touch with the world outside, so they can socialize with other people and dogs. Just like us, dogs can also experience endorphin rushes after a good workout. These workouts could also be helpful in relieving stress and anxiety.
Also, it prevents destructive behavior like chewing on furniture or loud whining.
Daily physical activity will keep your dog’s joints pain-free.
With age, joints lose their lubrication. A standard fitness routine can help retain this lubrication while supporting muscles to get stronger as well.
You can also prevent orthopedic concerns like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and ligament stress.
Tips for Exercising an Obese Dog
Sometimes, your dog can get out of shape. While you may not worry too much, the unfortunate truth remains that obesity can cause life-threatening problems for them. Not to mention, the ‘ideal weight’ is different for every breed.
Contact Your Vet
If your dog is overweight, the first thing you need to do is contact your vet and put them on a strict fitness regimen. It’s best we avoid the effects of canine obesity, which include diabetes, respiratory problems, arthritis, high blood pressure, etc.
Alongside altering meal habits to include healthy alternatives, dogs that suffer from obesity have to exercise in order to ensure they don’t face the ill effects of being overweight. Besides their routine walks and playtime, you also need to make sure they do additional exercise.
Start slow, and slowly increase the intensity of their workout. Exercises like running, swimming, trekking, and other activities can be incorporated into their routine once they regain some muscle and shed a few pounds.
Look Out For Excessive Panting
Make sure to keep an eye out for excessive panting. If your dog is showing signs that they need a break, give them one.
Remember, dogs that exercise lose weight over time. Once you witness noticeable improvement in weight and overall health, lower the intensity of their routine.
Thing To Remember
- Only choose active dog breeds if you already have an active lifestyle filled with physical activity. Without physical stimulus, these breeds get restless and anxious.
- Plan your workouts only after you’ve discussed your dog’s existing medical conditions (if any) with your vet.
- You can alternate between indoor and outdoor exercise as you see fit.
- Always start slow, and build intensity; always stay on the lookout for dehydration or exhaustion.
- Always exercise with your dog before their meal. Feed them treats during the exercise, but do not engage in extensive physical activity right after a meal.
- Invest in sturdy and safe harnesses and collars.
There you have it!
Your four-legged companion deserves to be healthy and fit, so they can have all the fun they possibly can with you. Be a responsible pet parent and get your dog on a regimen, now that you know how to create a fitness routine for pets.
Let us know which part of this routine you and your pet enjoy the most!