March 30 is National Take a Walk in the Park Day! To honor the occasion, let's dig into some details on animal exercise. Walking is a great way to exercise and bond with your pets, but what are some other ways to keep them active and healthy? Here are five fun ways to exercise with your pets:
1. To the Dog Park!
- Taking a trip to your local dog park provides your pup with invigorating social play. You can join in on the fun or sit back and relax as your furry friend socializes with other pets. In the animal-loving city that is Austin, there are many off-leash, dog-friendly parks to enjoy.
- Fetch is a game you can play anytime, anywhere. This is a great option to get your dog’s heart rate up when you want to take it easy.
- Watch for cues that your dog is particularly winded and needs a break. Working dogs like Border Collies or Australian Shepherds can focus so intensely on their 'work' of fetching the ball that they may continue to do so at the risk of their own health.
- Whether you prefer to dive in, play fetch, or hang out on the shore, swimming is enjoyable exercise for water-loving dogs. This is an especially great option during the hot Texas summer, when days can get prohibitively hot for outdoor play.
- Be sure to bring fresh drinking water, as lakes and other waters can be contaminated. Also, be prepared with a canine life vest for boating or deep waters.
- Be sure to rinse your pet well if he swims in a chlorine pool or saltwater. Chlorine and salt can dry out their sensitive skin.
- Hiking will exercise both you and your pup! Before taking your dog along on your next excursion, make sure the area is safe and allows pets. It is also important that your dog is well trained and comes quickly when called, as most dogs hike off-leash.
- And of course, please be considerate of other hikers and Mother Nature, and pick up your poop! Even if you're outside in a wide open area, other hikers may step in your pile, and an overabundance of doggie poop can throw off the area's delicate ecosystem.
- Running is a top choice for pet owners looking to exercise with their dog, heat permitting. However, running is not ideal for some dogs. If they are under 18 months of age, their bones haven’t finished growing, and running can stunt the process.
- On the other hand, senior dogs can get too stiff prior to a run. Breeds with short legs or small in stature are also not fit for long runs.
- Just like humans, each pet is different. A dog’s need for exercise depends on age, size, breed and individual traits.
- Don’t overestimate your pet’s abilities. It is best to start small and work up to longer, more strenuous exercises to determine just how much your pet can handle.
- Morning and evening are ideal for exercise, as it’s not too hot and reduces the chance of heat stroke or over-exhaustion.
- Dogs can’t sweat, but cool themselves via the pads of their feet and the roofs of their mouths--check out DogBoy's video for some interesting details on this.
- A healthier weight
- Reduced digestive problems
- An Increased metabolism
- Decreased energy at bedtime or relaxation time
- Decreased energy for mischievous or destructive behavior
- A happier, healthier bond