Category Archives: exercise

Wag-Worthy Dog Benefit Ideas

By Tamara McRill

Who doesn’t love a rollicking good time that ends with a huge doggie smile – all to benefit a good cause? As dog lovers, we are often a part of charitable canine organizations or wish we could help raise funds for specific doggy needs. Yet it can be hard to come up with fun ways to get people to participate.

Here is a list of dog benefit ideas that you can whip out the next time your favorite shelter, pet charity or dog in need deserves a little organized help. Each of these has activities that are dog-themed and/or allows dogs to participate. Otherwise, how could we call them wag-worthy?

Dog Walks/5k Run Events 

Many cities across the country have these events, and a 5k walk or run might work in your town, too. One way to raise money through this event is to get your participants to take pledges for distance increments or if they finish the race. You could even have a box for people to donate needed items. One way to spice up this event is to have runners come in costume – and their dogs, too! You can either pick a theme or let it be anything goes.

Make sure you train your dog for the event, just like you wouldn’t go run a marathon without being an experienced runner. Although dogs may seem ready-made to tackle a long run, they can also get hurt or become ill if they don’t build up their endurance. Also, be sure you train by actually running with your dog, so they are used to your rhythm.

Mini Pet Fairs 

What better way to spark up a fun atmosphere of charitable giving than with a fair? You can have games for the dogs, like “find the stuffed animal” or agility contests. Have supporting companies set up booths as vendors. Pet fairs can also feature adoptions.

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Simple Mistakes We Make When Exercising a Dog

By Linda Cole

We know it’s important to keep our dogs active to help prevent obesity and keep them healthy in body and spirit. Most dogs are willing partners when you want to go hiking, biking, jogging or walking, or participate in a fun sport like dock diving, Disc Dog, agility or flyball. The last thing any responsible pet owner wants to do is put their dog at risk for injury, but without realizing it we can be guilty of doing just that.

Too much exercise with no conditioning 

Most dogs have an athletic side. They love to run, play, jump and race around as fast as they can. Because they want to be with us, preferably everywhere we go, we can easily forget that a dog may not be ready for a five mile run or an afternoon of hiking. Like us, dogs need conditioning and time to build up muscles and stamina. They are as susceptible to soft tissue injuries as we are, and can pull a tendon or get a sprain. Many dogs do enjoy sports, but just like any human athlete-in-training, it’s important to start slow and take the time needed to gradually get into shape for any physical activity.

Make sure your dog can keep up with you, and you can keep up with him. A Chihuahua isn’t a good running partner, and a Greyhound may leave you in his dust. If your dog isn’t on equal terms with you as far as his fitness goes, a walk around the block may be enough exercise for him. If your dog has more energy than you do, play with him in the backyard, then take him for a walk or run.

Forgetting how weather can affect a dog 

The pads of a dog’s feet act like shock absorbers to cushion the feet and protect them when walking on hot and cold surfaces. But the pads can be burned by walking on a hot surface like asphalt, concrete or metal. Check your pet’s paw pads for cuts, puncture wounds, burrs or small rocks, and keep their pads healthy by making sure they are free of injuries.

Know the signs of heat stroke, hyperthermia and hypothermia, and pay attention to how well your dog tolerates different weather conditions. Hydration is important for both of you – always have fresh water available for you and your dog when exercising. Don’t force your pet to continue exercising if he’s showing signs of fatigue. You may be ready to go another mile, but your dog may not be.

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No Yard? 5 Ways to Still Exercise Your Dog

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!

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Getting Fit with Fido: Exercise You’ll Both Enjoy

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.

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How to Teach Your Dog to Play Frisbee

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.

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Do Dogs Get a ‘Runner’s High’ Like We Do?

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.

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