10 Creative Ways To Exercise Your Dog
Have you ever had one of those dogs? You know. The one that barks all day long, digs furiously in the garden, tears up the whole house when you leave it, and can’t be taken for a walk without warning everyone in a ten mile radius they’re about to get clotheslined?
I’ve got one of those dogs right now. I have taken her to animal behaviorists, dog trainers, e-mailed other dog people online. I have listened to smug pet store employees preach to me about lack of exercise, and I want to slap them all. Those of you who have a dog like this know, there is no way to give a dog like this a walk that long without quitting your job and applying yourself to nothing else.
My dog is a friggin Chihuahua. (Pardon my french.) Her stride is about 18 inches long. So why is it we can go for a four mile run, pushing so fast and so hard that steam is coming off my body, up hills and over difficult terrain, and yet when I collapse on the couch gasping for air, she’s grabbing up a squeaky toy and begging for more? Before you ask, yeah it does help with the destruction a little. That’s not the point. She should be exhausted! She’s a Chihuahua!
What’s a person to do when faced with a dog like this?
1. The Dinner Time Workout
Those precious few minutes your dog is eating, he’s not ripping up your underwear or whining at the door. Why wouldn’t you want to stretch it out a little? Give your dog his meal in a doggie puzzle, such as a kibble dispensing cube or a kong toy. Figuring out how to get his meal will give him a mental workout, and take his focus off that hole to China.
2. Take It Somewhere Else
New surroundings can be both mentally and physically more difficult than the same old boring walk every day. I took Leia to a park on a 30 foot dog lead, put down a blanket for myself, and let her run. My blanket was strategically placed between a soccer field and a tennis court, and she spent two hours dashing madly back and forth between the two. She didn’t disturb either party since she was too far away, but she exercised herself so well she retired to the couch for the rest of the afternoon, and I got four chapters of my lastest Stephanie Plumb book read. Not a bad trade off.
3. New Toys
Leia is ball crazy, and I spend a little time playing fetch with her most days. Recently I got a frisbee for her to try. She ran harder, jumped higher, and tired herself out faster, playing with a frisbee over a ball.
4. New Tricks
This kind of goes back to the first one, but when my first dog was difficult, I distracted him by giving him something to do. In his case, I taught him to track a specific smell, and had him look for it throughout the house. Now that smell is permanently attached to my keys, wallet, and cellphone. He’s a useful dog.
5. Armchair Exercise
Your dog is still on fire, and you’re ready to sit in your easy chair. Instead of forcing yourself to limp out the door for one more round, try a compromise. Teach your dog to spin, sit and down. For a low calorie treat, have him do doggie push-ups (sit, down, sit, down, sit…) or spin to the left and to the right a few times. He’ll get his workout, you can sit still. It’s perfect!
6. Bring A Friend Over.
If your dog has a best friend, invite him over for a play date. They can tear up the backyard while you sip iced tea on the porch.
7. Hire A Kid
Under supervision only, with a child-proof dog and a responsible child. When I was ten years old, I was hired at the princely price of fifty cents per hour, to throw a ball for a couple of German Shepherds. I thought it was the greatest job in the world, and probably spent hours tossing that ball. The dogs loved it too.
8. Set Up An Obstacle Course
When a storm decides to dump the entire ocean onto my house, all at once, I do not go for a walk. I also do not go out when it is snowing, windy, or over 90 degrees. When these things happen, I set up an obstacle course for my dog in the house and run them over it. This can consist of jumping on the couch, jumping off the couch, weaving empty pop cans, sailing through a child’s play tunnel, and laying down on top of an ottoman. The sky is the limit, as long as you don’t mind dismantling it when play time is over.
9. Tie a toy to yourself.
I wouldn’t recommend this with a dog that weighs more than you do, but it works great for toy dogs. I tie a toy to my belt with a rope while I’m doing stuff around the house. Sure I’m getting tugged on and tag-teamed all through the house as all 3 chihuahuas ‘dog pile’ the toy, but I feel I can handle the combined weight of 11 pounds hanging off my belt loop.
10. Give Them A Bath
I know a few of you are scratching your heads over this one. How could giving a dog a bath be exercise? I can’t possibly have the only dog on Earth who has “The After Bath Freak Out” and if tornadoing around the house at top speed does not tire them out, I don’t know what will.
Leia is still a hyper, crazy, full of energy little monster, but she doesn’t destroy stuff anymore. Now it’s your turn to share. What do you do to tire your dogs out?
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