All dogs need both mental and physical stimulation. And that’s why the month of April has become known as “Active Dog Month.” This month reminds us to keep our pups active and healthy.
What Happens If You Don’t Exercise Your Dog Enough?
Obesity is one of the most significant and most preventable problems vets see in dogs. A study done in 2018 showed that over 50 million dogs across the U.S. were overweight or obese.
And along with obesity comes many other health issues like hip and joint problems, heart disease, diabetes, and much more.
Not only does exercise help with your pup’s physical health, but it can also help with mental and health! All dogs need mental stimulation. And being active outdoors, playing games, and chasing squirrels can all help them use their brain to accomplish something exciting or challenging.
We all know just how good fresh air and exercise are for our emotional health. Well, the same goes for our pups! They were born to be outdoors and active. Even though they are obviously now domesticated, the more they can be active outdoors, the happier they will be.
Which Activities are Good for Dogs?
The best activities for dogs are those they can do outdoors—with you and other dogs! Your dog loves spending time with you, so why not take this opportunity to bond by working out together? No matter what season or climate you’re in, we can help you find your favorite active things to do with your pup.
Just remember, safety first! Always be prepared with outdoor protection, and use a preventative tick and flea medication. This way, you can feel at ease about your dog playing outdoors.
Go to a dog park
Going to a dog park (if your dog likes that sort of thing) is one of the easiest ways to help your dog get some much-needed exercise and socialization. It’s a great way to let your dog run off their extra energy—even if you’re tired and just need to sit and watch.
Walk, jog, or hike with your dog
If you’re ready to be active with your pup, take them for a walk, jog, or hike on a nearby dog-friendly trail.
Just make sure to get your dog a good harness to help with control, and avoid choking. And check out the websites below that will help you find the best outdoor dog spots near you.
Bike with your dog
If you love riding your bike, let your dog join you! While they can’t ride, they can run alongside you—as long as they are on leash.
Dogs love playing fetch. If you have a fenced-in backyard, this is the perfect spot to let your dog run, give them some mental stimulation, and bond with them by playing a game.
Take your dog swimming
Most dogs are natural-born swimmers. They will love swimming, splashing, and playing in a creek, pond, or even in your friend’s pool! And just to be safe, you may want to consider getting your pup a dog life jacket.
If you’re the camping type, bring your dog with you! Not only is it a great chance to bond, but you can knock out multiple physical activities all in one trip.
Like playing fetch, playing tug-of-war is a fun bonding game with your pup. And it will help them to be both physically and mentally entertained.
Go paddleboarding or kayaking
Although your dog is mostly sitting while you paddle, these activities will get you both outdoors. And your dog can enjoy hiking out to the water or even jumping in while you’re there!
How Do I Entertain My Dog Indoors?
Some days, the weather is too cold, too wet and stormy, or you’re just too busy. So we have to be a little creative.
But before we jump into indoor activities, check out how many winter weather activities you can try with your pup. Or, if you need some quiet enrichment toys while you’re working, we’ve got some suggestions of fun toys that will keep your dog entertained.
But if you’re looking for something that is both active and indoors, check out the list below.
Run up and down the stairs
Have your dog chase you up and down the stairs, or throw a ball down the stairs while they run to grab it and bring it back to you.
As long as you have enough living room space, you can of course play tug-of-war indoors.
Play hide-and-seek with treats
Hide-and-seek is another excellent game for physical and mental activity. Have your dog wait in another room while you hide treats around the house. You may have to show them the first one so they understand the game. And then they’ll go crazy with excitement!
Create an indoor obstacle course
Like when you were a kid and created obstacle courses for yourself and your siblings, try doing this for your dog. You can use couch cushions, empty cardboard boxes, and hula hoops.
You may need a larger house for this, or even a basement. But as long as there’s room to run, there’s room to play!
Teach your dog a new trick
Teaching your dog new tricks may only be minimally active—depending on the trick. But it will definitely keep them mentally active and can be done indoors.
Where Can I Find Dog Parks and Dog-Friendly Trails Online?
If you’re ready to get outdoors but you’re not sure where to look for dog-friendly spaces and places, here are some websites and apps that can help!
One of my absolute favorite websites and apps to find great hiking, walking, or biking trails is AllTrails.com.
And the best part as a pet parent is that you can search and filter specifically by “dog-friendly” trails, activity, and difficulty level. It will help you find great places to take your pup right near you.
And, of course, you can Google dog parks in your city. But I like reading reviews about the local dog parks and trails from websites like LocalPetCare.com, Rover.com, and BringFido.com. These will help give you a little more insight into each place before you arrive.
How Do I Make My Dog More Active?
There’s no day like the present to create a great new habit—for you and your pup. So get active today by choosing just one of the many activities listed above. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.