Fun dog exercise ideas to try out during all types of weather
Motivating yourself to exercise can be a challenge – especially in the colder months – but you’ll feel all the better for it, especially when your dog joins in. In fact, regular exercise is important for your dog’s health and can help lower the risk of health conditions like obesity.
We asked pet experts to share their favourite activities to help both you and your dog stay healthy and active. These year-round dog exercises can boost your motivation, even when it’s chilly. Your dog will thank you for it!
Mix it up when walking
When you’re out walking with your dog, Both Ends of the Lead recommends varying the surfaces you walk on, such as sand and grass. Also, make sure to incorporate some inclines and declines for you both to walk up and down. This will get your and your dog’s muscles moving, helping you get fit at the same time as strengthening the bond between you and your dog.
Both Ends of the Lead provides online learning and one-to-one consultations to owners of older dogs and dogs suffering from arthritis. Through informing and empowering the owners, they help dogs live longer and enjoy the best possible quality of life.
Their 4 Paws 2 Feet Fitness e-book includes a variety of workouts and ways to exercise with your dog while out walking together. If you’re doing these during the winter months, however, they also recommend a heat pack to help your muscles recover afterwards.
Make a splash with your dog
Wading in water at the beach or lake is a great dog exercise, says Veterinary Physiotherapist Dr Naomi Boyd. ‘It improves cardiovascular fitness for both you and your dog and exposes your best friend to using their muscles in new ways, helping to build strength and balance.’ It’s even suitable for older dogs and those with previous injuries. If the water is cold, you can go for indoor alternatives, such as hydrotherapy or an underwater treadmill.
SASH is an independent, complete care veterinary facility with branches in Sydney and on the Central Coast of NSW. It is dedicated to providing the very latest and best treatments for pets and aims to bridge the gap between human and animal healthcare. Dr Naomi Boyd is SASH’s Head Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Veterinarian and Physiotherapist.
Dr Boyd says that watching people bond with their dogs over exercise is one of the ‘most beautiful aspects of the human-pet relationship’. No matter what exercise you choose, it’ll be more fun with your dog, as you can see how much joy they get from it!
If your dog is older or has previously been injured, Dr Boyd says it’s worth having them assessed by a physiotherapist, who can recommend specific exercises to help them. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements such as fish oil may also be beneficial, but you should check with your veterinarian first to find the most appropriate product for your dog.
Keep dog exercise fun with toys
Witness The Fitness Transformation & Performance Centre believes that both you and your dog need to move every day to feel energised and productive, ‘We recommend that our clients move every single day,’ say the fitness experts. ‘It's the same for your dog!’ For a great way to exercise with your dog, they recommend a brisk walk in the morning, followed by throwing a ball or Frisbee. It isn’t over-strenuous, but it’s enough to get your joints and muscles moving and help keep you supple.
Witness The Fitness Transformation and Performance Centre is a Brisbane-based facility offering fitness classes and personal training to improve body strength, mobility, nutrition, and well-being. They focus particularly on older people, with the aim of restoring the physical and mental agility and resilience they enjoyed in their youth.
If you’re feeling up to something more strenuous, Witness The Fitness also runs several training programs that are dog-friendly. Their Bootcamp program is held at an outdoor park where dogs are welcome, and their Mums and Bubs sessions encourage the inclusion of fur kids along with the human ones!
Get back to nature
The physiotherapists at Fix Physio explain how exercising your dog can serve as additional motivation in winter. ‘Make a commitment to your dog,’ they say. ‘Often we plan to exercise, but we aren't meeting anyone so we make excuses and do something less active instead. Daily exercise is great for both you and your dog so make that commitment to exercise together and see it through – you won't regret it.’
Fix Physio is a physiotherapy, clinical Pilates, and remedial massage practice, helping clients to recover from injuries and prevent them recurring, for a pre-injury quality of life.
Their favourite dog exercise? Bush walking! The fresh air and exercise will benefit you both. ‘Switch off your phone, get back to nature and reconnect with yourself and your pet,’ Fix Physio enthuses. But do make sure dogs are allowed wherever you decide to go bush. Once you’ve picked out a dog-friendly path, exercising with your dog can help reinforce your lifelong commitment to your pet. Cherish the special bond you share and enjoy happy times out in nature together.
Rug up and hit the park
‘Walking with your dog is a must,’ said the personal trainers at Revolution Personal Training. ‘These days we all find it harder to find the time for exercise – a walk with your dog will enable you to get active every day.’ They add that it’s also a great way to clear your mind.
If you’re looking for some added motivation the personal trainers recommend dog parks, as your dog will love playing there. ‘Dogs are great at keeping you motivated, as they quickly learn the routine of going out. They’ll recognise when you reach for the lead or your walking shoes, and they won’t let you keep them waiting! Seeing their tail wagging is so rewarding!’
The winter weather can be cold not just for you. Revolution Personal Training advises keeping you and your pet rugged up when you’re heading out for walks.
Revolution Personal Training is a personal and group training gym in South Melbourne, specialising in functional fitness, strength, and conditioning. It aims to help people from all walks of life to become fitter, stronger, healthier and happier versions of themselves.
Learn from each other
Canine Comprehension, based in Melbourne, takes an innovative approach to helping those who struggle to connect to their learning. Well-trained therapy dogs and friendly tutors work together to help students enjoy the learning process and strive higher in their education.
The education experts explain that mental exercise is essential for both dogs and people. Dogs help to create a calm environment, focusing your attention and encouraging you to stay on a task for longer. They are also ideal for teaching humans about compassion and fairness, helping us to empathise better with each other.
Equally, we have plenty to teach our dogs which can be taught inside during cold weather. Canine Comprehension emphasises the need for dogs to learn boundaries to help with obedience and respect for your home. ‘By teaching your dog boundaries your dog is more likely to respect your house,’ explain the educators. ‘If they have complete access, they think they own it.’ If it’s too cold outside why not bond with your dog over some simple dog training techniques?
However, Canine Comprehension says that it’s still important to get out and about with your dog all year round. They suggest keeping up motivation levels by trying different places. This way your dog can get to meet different people and dogs. ‘Socialisation is highly important throughout your dog’s whole life,’ say the experts, ‘not just when they’re puppies.’
Your dog needs activity all year round; and although motivation may be hard to muster during winter, so do you! Enjoying exercise with your dog can help keep you motivated and make fitness more fun. So get out there and cement the special bond that only you and your dog share.