5 Ways to Exercise Your Dog That Aren’t Walks

You take the dog on a quick walk before work, and your dog walker gets him out for a midday jaunt. When you get home from work at the end of a busy day, why not do something a little different? Taking the same walk every day gets boring for you and your dog, but as dog owners, we’re not always the best at thinking up new ways to spend quality time with our pups. If your play sessions have grown stale, here are five fresh ideas to help you mix it up.

Play Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a great game to have in your repertoire because you can play it inside on rainy days or take it outdoors to step up the difficulty. Have your dog sit and stay while you hide, but remain within earshot. Once you’re hidden, give the command to release her to search for you. Make your first few hiding spots easy and reward success with lots of enthusiasm and play. This is also an excellent way to practice your “stay” command.

Practice Scent Work

Your dog doesn’t have to be a hunting breed to get a kick out of scent work. To practice scent work, use whatever motivates your dog most, either treats or toys. Take the treat or toy and hide it while your dog stays, then release her to sniff it out. Make sure your dog understands that you’re hiding it for her to find; the best way to do this is by hiding it in obvious places to start, then gradually increasing the difficulty. Modern Dog offers a few more variations on scent games for dogs.

Go Swimming

For a high-intensity game of fetch that’s perfect for hot days, find a beach, lake, or stream near your home that dogs are permitted to swim in. If you’re heading to a stream or river, look for a wide, shallow area where the current is slow and follow Recreation.gov’s tips for water safety. Playing fetch in the water is an amazing workout for your dog, but it can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Don’t force your dog to swim if he’s not comfortable, stop before he’s too tired, and consider a life jacket as an extra precaution.

Work on Commands

Training sessions don’t have to be boring. In fact, they shouldn’t be! If you want your dog to be fully engaged in training, you need to make it as fun and exciting as possible. How can you do that? Instead of spending an hour drilling in the same command, include a mix of easy wins like “sit” and “stay” with more difficult commands. Take breaks and switch up your rewards with a mix of high-value treats, play, and praise. They’re not super active, but training sessions give your dog lots of mental stimulation. And your reward is a dog that has great manners both at home and in public, which is something every owner wants.

Go Trail Running

Don’t have time for your workout and your dog’s? You can combine them by going for a run together, but instead of running around the block, hit a local trail. Your dog will get to enjoy some new scents and sights while the softer surfaces spare both of your knees. Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep your dog leashed on most public trails. Many runners prefer waist leashes over traditional leashes.

Walks have their time and place, but they’re not the only way to keep your dog active. These activities are fun for both you and your dog, and they include options for those dreary days when you don’t want to go outside. Plus, when you have fun with your dog through games like these, you’re not only getting your pup a workout—you’re strengthening the bond between human and pet.
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