By Tamara McRill
While a big backyard can be wonderful for excising our dogs, a lot of pet owners just don’t have that luxury. That’s something I learned when we downsized from two lots of running space to a teeny tiny yard.
Luckily, I was able to find several solutions that worked for us, as well as some that would also work for any pet owner who has more pent-up dog energy than grass square footage.
1. Leash Up and Head Out
It might be an obvious solution, but taking your dog to a place where they can exercise certainly solves the problem. If you don’t have access to a dog park or are unable to walk your dog for long distances, then consider a friend’s yard. We make use of a neighbor’s fenced-in backyard on occasion, so my Wuppy can get in some of the free running he’s used to.
2. Hire Help
Sometimes time is an added problem, along with little yard space. If you ever run into a situation where you just get too busy to take your dog out to walk or play, then consider hiring a dog walker or taking them to a doggie daycare. That way, your dog gets all the exercise they need and deserve, and you don’t have to feel guilty about being so busy. Plus, you get to spend your spare time snuggling with your pet!
By Lisa Mason
Now that summer is officially here, it’s time to head outdoors with your dog! Going for walks and changing up the pace is a great way for both you and your four legged friend to get some exercise. However, there are lots of other ways you and your dog can get fit and have fun in the sun at the same time.
Dogs love to play fetch. You can throw a ball, a toy, a Frisbee or a stick and they will happily chase it down and bring it back to you. That’s great exercise for the dog, but you are just standing there waiting for him to come back. Change up the rules and race your dog to the object you throw. He will catch on pretty quickly and will run faster to beat you to the prize.
Build a “walk the plank” structure in your back yard. You will need four or more concrete blocks and a sturdy board (at least 6 feet long and 2 feet wide). Place the board on the concrete blocks spaced evenly. You don’t want the board to sag from you or your dog’s weight. Step up at the end and walk across the length and step down at the other end. Encourage your dog to do the same thing.
By Langley Cornwell
Watching super dog-athletes at events like the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is inspiring. The K9 Frisbee Dog Entertainment blows me away every year. Likewise, when I watch videos of dogs like Wallace, Bling Bling, Torch, Shiloh and Gracie performing amazing Disc Dog feats, I’m blown away. The way the canine athletes look at their handlers with such concentration and pure trust says it all. These dogs are focused on doing exactly what their person tells them to. At the risk of sounding corny or completely nuts, the look those dogs give their humans communicates the kind of love that can only come from a dog.
We play a very rudimentary version of Frisbee with one of our dogs. Our dog loves to chase the disc but rarely catches it in the air. Even so, she brings it right back so we’ll throw it again. She is a fine athlete; she’s very agile and can jump amazingly high. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I would take the time to teach her, she could learn to be a fine backyard Disc Dog.
Because the name “Frisbee” is a registered trademark, the sport is officially known as Disc Dog. Opinions vary on the specifics of training your pup to be a Disc Dog. It’s like all dog training; there are multiple paths to the same goal. Generally speaking, this method seems to be the most common:
Use a disc specifically designed for dogs, because human Frisbees are not suitable for canine play.
Begin by introducing your dog to the disc. One of our dogs was interested in the toy immediately, but we had to take extra steps to entice our other dog. If your dog doesn’t take to it immediately, make the disc desirable somehow. Recommendations include waving the disc temptingly while talking in an excited voice, giving your dog a treat (and/or a click if you’ve clicker trained him) when he touches it, smearing peanut butter on the edges of the disc or rubbing a hotdog around the rim. Some people report using the disc as a food bowl and allowing the dog to eat out of it.
By Linda Cole
To me, there’s nothing better than an intense workout to help me feel good. I don’t care what the activity is; running, tennis, softball, racquetball, volleyball or biking, they all fit the bill. I like physical exercise because of the ‘high’ it gives me when I’m done. We know how important exercise is for our dogs, but do they get as much enjoyment as we do from an intense workout? Do dogs get the same kind of ‘runner’s high’ we get?
Like humans, some dogs enjoy sports more than others. For a high-energy dog, racing around off leash is what they live for. If you’ve never experienced a runners high yourself, it’s hard to describe the euphoric feeling one gets after a strenuous workout. Stress is reduced and you feel on top of the world. According to a recent study, dogs do get that same feeling after a good run or workout.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, found that both humans and dogs have a release of mood altering chemicals after running. Research was done at the University of Arizona where they compared humans, dogs and ferrets to see if we shared an endorphin rush, or second wind. They found that ferrets don’t get a high from exercise. They aren’t exactly the long distance running types. Dogs and humans, on the other hand, do experience a runner’s high and it’s more intense in dogs than it is in humans. The high happens when neurochemicals activate endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. Scientists also discovered that walking doesn’t produce a high for humans or dogs. Nevertheless, a walk around the neighborhood is still good for both of us.
When man and dogs began their evolution journey together, humans had to travel away from home to find food. They needed to be able to push themselves through sore and tired muscles to keep going. Since dogs traveled with humans, they also needed to be able to push themselves when needed and dig down to get a second wind. Without the feeling of euphoria, there is no reward to encourage the body to keep moving. The runner’s high is probably one thing that helped hunters locate and stalk their prey and then return home with supper. And since dogs aided in the hunt, they also needed to be able to keep up.
By Linda Cole
An overweight dog or cat can struggle with many of the same health concerns overweight people have to deal with. There’s nothing wrong with giving your pet a few TidNips treats now and then, especially when training, but we need to understand the importance of exercise and maintaining a proper and healthy weight for our pets just as much as we do with our own weight. An obese pet is no laughing matter.
It’s not as easy as you might think to help your dog or cat lose weight. Let’s face it, cats spend a good deal of their time sleeping, which is normal for them. Trying to get a cat motivated to exercise will mean you need to play with her. You have to be careful, however, and not allow her to lose weight too quickly because cats can easily develop a very serious disease called Fatty Liver Disease that’s hard to treat and can be life threatening. The cause is unknown, but obesity is suspected to play a role.
One out of every four dogs and cats are overweight. Here’s a simple way to help you determine if your pet is too heavy. Rub your hand down along your pet’s side, under the hair. If you can feel their ribs, they aren’t overweight. However, if you can’t feel their ribs it’s time to consider a weight loss program, but only after your vet has had a chance to give them a checkup. Weight issues in dogs can be associated with Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism. A checkup is a must to make sure your pet is healthy enough for an increase in exercise and to discuss a proper feeding schedule.
Overweight dogs and cats don’t deserve lower quality ingredients to lose weight; they simply need your help in providing them with the proper amount of high quality food. If you’re already feeding your pet CANIDAE or FELIDAE, you know the benefits of providing a well balanced, natural and healthy diet. Pets that eat a premium quality food like CANIDAE or FELIDAE don’t have to eat as much in order to feel full. Along with proper exercise, a high quality food can help keep your pet at their recommended weight.
By Linda Cole
I have several dogs that are getting along in years. They move slower and are more content to sleep away the hours, but a lack of exercise and stimulation isn’t a healthy way for them to spend their senior years. Older pets can develop arthritis and other joint related problems that may keep them from enjoying activities, but it’s still important to keep them as active as possible. If you have a senior pet, here are some tips to help them stay active.
By the time a pet turns a year old, they are already a teenager in human years. The senior years for small dogs 20 pounds or less begin at the age of 7 to 9, and larger dogs are considered seniors at 6 to 7 years. Cats are actually living longer because of advances in veterinary medicine. An indoor cat can easily live up to 18 years or longer and are considered senior at around 9 years. Outdoor cats have shorter life spans, around 4 to 5 years.
How to Keep Senior Dogs Active
As dogs age, they may not be able to keep up a rigorous exercise schedule. That doesn’t mean you have to stop running, biking, hiking or any other activity you enjoy doing with your dog, but it does mean you may need to slow things down for your senior dog’s sake. Swimming and slower walks for senior dogs, especially one with arthritis, keep their muscles strong. Exercise helps keep joints limber, keeps their bowels functioning normally, digestive system working and helps your dog maintain a healthy body weight.