There is no doubt that one of the things your dog looks forward to most during the day, is his daily walks. The smells, people, and dogs he encounters daily are stimulating, entertaining, and an excellent motivation to stay fit. However, on really chilly days, dogs can be reticent to go outside for more than a few minutes, and they (and you) risk losing out on the important benefits of physical activity. In this post, we highlight the importance of exercise for dogs and suggest ways to keep them happy and active indoors.
Why is Daily Exercise Vital for Dogs?
Exercise can benefit your dogs in many ways, regardless of their age. First of all, a dog with too much pent-up energy can become destructive in the home, gnawing at your beloved furniture, bedding, and shoes. There are important health reasons as well; dogs who don't move sufficiently can incur risks of heart disease, arthritis, and obesity, just like humans can.
Older dogs can be reticent to go out for a walk for a variety of reasons: they may have failing eyesight, anxiety, or joint pain. However, because immobility can have such a detrimental effect on their health, it is important to ensure they enjoy gentle, age-appropriate exercise every day.
Indoor Exercises that Dogs Love
Because homes are so much smaller than a park or forest, games are the best way to keep your dog active indoors. The first step involves teaching your dog the 'find it' command, which can serve as a basis for many games. Use clickers to introduce him to games, rewarding him when he starts 'getting' the rules.
Top games include hiding treats. Start out by making it easy for your dog, increasing the complexity as he gets more astute. You can also play hide-and-seek, training your dog to stay in a room until you give him a command to find you.
If you have a large living room or long hallway in your home, take the activity factor up a notch by throwing the ball to the other end of the room and asking your dog to fetch.
Another fun game involves two members of the family (try it with your kids) standing at opposite sides of a long room (or even a large garage). Take turns calling your pooch, perhaps using a ball and throwing it to each other while your dog runs from one side of the room to the other.
You can also use toys like dog ropes to enjoy a fun (but gentle) tug-of-war.
Finally, training your dog to jump through a hoop, jump over a low hurdle, or perform a simple 'choreography' will certainly give him a great workout that will strengthen his muscles and heart.
On days when a walk to the park or your preferred natural setting are impossible, use your imagination to keep your dog entertained and mobile indoors. Games and training sessions will probably form the majority of his workout sessions, but feel free to get creative and think of new ways to get your dog off the sofa, to ensure he is fit and fabulous for many years to come.