By Abby Drexler
Getting your dog more active doesn't always come easy. There are days when downpours or heatwaves prevent you and your dog from enjoying a nice relaxing walk outdoors. And even when the weather is fantastic, your pupper might spend it lying on the ground, refusing to move a muscle. If this level of inactivity continues over a protracted period of time, it could lead to health complications and a shorter lifespan. Fortunately, all it takes is a bit of planning and patience to develop a more active lifestyle and routine for your dogs. Here are six ways to do just that:
Visit Your Vet
Although there is usually no cause for alarm if your dog has been lazy for the past couple of days, it's prudent to rule out any health complications first before forcing Fido to exercise. Bring your dog to the vet for a full checkup. They may be able to pinpoint the specific reason/s for the decrease in energy level. You can also get your dog weighed, have his/her blood tested for heartworms, and get dietary recommendations if necessary. Vets can also do a full body inspection to identify any joint injuries, bites, or skin infections that could've escaped your eye.
Start Your Day Early
Dogs become particularly lethargic in the peak months of the summer season. The extreme heat can wear them out from playtime much faster compared to cooler days of the year. This is especially true for dogs who have thicker coats and are used to colder temperatures, such as Siberian Huskies and Newfinlanders. The sidewalk pavements also get hot and unbearable for them to walk on with their bare paws thus cutting short any planned long walks. By starting your day early, say 6 AM, you can avoid these extreme temperatures.
Go For a Hike
If you live in a very busy city, you'll know that it's not exactly the most dog-friendly environment. There is not enough space to go for jogs or hikes. The parks are usually built for people and children while fenced-in dog runs are incredibly compact. Sidewalks are way too narrow and too close to car and bike lanes. Rent a car and bring your dog out of the city and into acres of green space where he/she can run around in or play fetch on. For instance, if you live in NYC, you can drive upstate and hike Bear Mountain State Park, which features hundreds of acres of natural preserve plus dozens of miles worth of hiking trails.
Get Your Dog a Partner
If your dog has someone to play with, indoors and outdoors, they tire out faster. They can encourage each other to play and move more rather than just lie down on the bed or couch all day. That being said, make sure to undergo the transition of adding a new pup into your household slowly. You need to pick a dog who gets along well with your current one. If the two dogs don't get along well, it can create a negative environment or, worse, a dangerous one wherein fights break out every day or so.
Enroll Your Dog in an Agility Training Course
Agility training programs have several benefits for your dog/s, one of which is that it fulfills their natural instincts. Before being domesticated, dogs in the wild were natural hunters, stalking and chasing after prey for survival. They are trained to move around the territory where they live, blazing through fields, jumping over rocks, and crawling under mud and logs. This helps them maintain physical and mental health. An agility training course is designed to mimic the same challenging environment.
Have People Around More Often
Dogs are social animals; they crave attention. If you live alone with your dog, you'll find that he/she can act sluggish with just you two in the apartment. But when the doorbell rings and your friends and relatives come for a visit, a new energy revitalizes your dog into a fun, happy, and tail-wagging pupper. In addition to having people around more often, go out and let your dog socialize with people.
Getting your dog more active is a good way to ensure his/her health. Of course, lifestyle changes in a dog's life start with changes in his/her owner's. Find time to exercise more in between your work and personal obligations.
Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for Pop Your Pup. She regularly produces content for pet blogs dealing with how to care for and love your pet.