RSPCA’s Getting fit with your dog

It has been shown that dog owners get more exercise than those who have gym memberships. Walking (or running) with your dog not only helps you get exercise – it is also a great way of bonding together.

Having regular opportunities to exercise is important for dogs as not only does it keep them fit but also active and stimulated as it also provides opportunities for exploration and interaction with people and other dogs.

Here are some tips for ways to get fit with your dog!

Walking/Running

  • Mix up your walk locations and throw some extra challenges in there to keep it interesting – longer walks, hilly areas, woods, rivers, beaches etc. New places mean new smells and excitement for your dog!
  • Start slow and build your way up – if your dog isn’t used to long walks, don’t expect them to do too much too soon. If you’re not sure, ask your vet to give your pooch the once over to check they’re fit and healthy.
  • Incorporate some training – this allows your dog to practice things he might know well somewhere different where there are lots of distractions and new sights and smells.
  • If your dog is off-lead (in a safe place), try running for a while, too! You can build up to running with your dog by trying brisk walks first.
  • On hot days, avoid the mid-day sun and take water for both of you. Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.
  • If your dog is fit and enjoys running and you’re both up for it – why not try taking part in dog friendly organised runs and competitions?

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© RSPCA

Agility

  • Agility classes are great for mental stimulation and physical exercise for both you and your dog. They involve training your dog to run through and over obstacles like tunnels and jumps using treats, toys and praise.
  • Agility can be done just for fun or as part of competitions and it’s a great way to encourage teamwork and communication with your dog.

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Playtime

  • Playing games with your dog will keep them entertained and will give you a workout too!
  • Playing prevents boredom and can reduce behavioural problems such as chewing / destruction.
  • Work out which your dog enjoys best – some might like a game of tugger, others might prefer to play fetch with a ball or catch a frisbee.
  • Make sure toys are safe eg. a suitable size and avoid sticks as they can cause injury – substitute them with rubber ones designed especially for dogs.

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Scent work

  • Sniffing is an important communication tool for dogs! They use it to find out about their world – who’s nearby, where food is etc.
  • ‘Find the treat’ is a good game to play – hide lots of treats around the house and garden and get your dog to sniff them out – they get to use their nose, it keeps them busy and it gets you moving too.
  • You could also make a trail with treats and kibble, starting off with them close together, then spacing them further apart and hiding them so your dog has to work harder to find them!

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© RSPCA

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© RSPCA

A well earned rest
After all that fun and exercise, having a nice comfy bed where they won’t be disturbed is essential for your dog to relax. Just like you!

If you don’t have your own pooch to get fit with, you could walk one of ours! Contact your local RSPCA centre to see if they need a hand.

If you are full of energy and think you could give a lively pup their perfect home, head to Find a Pet to see if ‘the one’ is waiting for you!