It's time to get active with your pet -- break out the squeaky toys, grab a tennis ball, and put on your sneakers. These fun photos of sporty dogs from our "Pets We Love" page on Facebook give you ideas and tips for getting and staying active with your pet.
Just like children, dogs need to burn energy. The recommended amount of aerobic exercise a dog needs per day is 30 minutes twice daily—60 minutes total. Read on for some fun ways to keep your dog in great shape. Time to get active!
(Photo from Jean G. via Pets We Love)
Boing! Whoever thought small dogs couldn't jump should think again. This French bulldog makes a high-flying grab during a game of catch. To play catch with your dog, simply find a ball your pet likes and an open area in your house, then toss the ball up, giving your pet a chance to leap high and make a pictureworthy grab.
Note: Make sure you play in an area where your pet can get good traction. Hardwood floors might not work as well as carpet, as your dog can slip and fall on landing. Also, if your dog is prone to back problems, as breeds such as corgis and dachshunds are, you might want to steer clear of a game that requires jumping.
(Photo from DeeDee S. via Pets We Love)
This bulldog looks like it needs a bit of a push. Taking your pet on a walk is always a great way to get exercise for both you and your pet. If there's a nearby park or playground, walk over to see what's going on in your neighborhood, and let your pet explore the area—and maybe test out a slide or swing!
(Photo from Krystal T. via Pets We Love)
Even in the winter months, your dog needs exercise. If your pet enjoys the snow, bundle up and play outdoors with your pet. Try sledding, or let your pooch help as you build a snowman (or snowdog).
Note: Make sure to protect your pet's paws against cold-weather conditions. Some dogs' paws are more sensitive in the snow; if your dog is lifting its paws or having a hard time walking while outdoors, try getting small booties or paw balm or cream to protect its paws from the cold. Also, salt is hard on your dog's paws. Avoid freshly salted sidewalks when walking your pet.
(Photo from Amy K. via Pets We Love)
Is your pet a sports fan? Include your dog in all the tailgating activities—jersey and helmet optional.
Note: If you plan to bring your pet to sporting events or parties, make sure it is always wearing its collar with up-to-date identification. With a big group of people, your dog can easily wander off—proper ID tags ensure your dog can be easily returned to you when it's found.
(Photo from Amy B. via Pets We Love)
Dogs sleep a lot—especially when you're at work. So when you're busy at home or during downtime between play sessions, keep your dog occupied and active with chew toys or chew bones. Hard rubber toys, marrow bones, or rawhides work great and encourage your pet to chew on what it's given rather than resorting to destructive chewing, such as on your furniture or other household items.
(Photo from Chrysanthe L. via Pets We Love)
Dogs are social animals. If your dog enjoys playing with other dogs, set up play dates with dogs in your neighborhood, or take your dog to a local dog park for a fix of puppy playtime.
(Photo from Paula M. via Pets We Love)
Tossing a Frisbee is a great way to keep both you and your pet active. Start by purchasing dog disks—these reduce the risk of injuring your dog and are more difficult to destroy by chewing. Some dogs are naturals at catching disks, while others might need a bit of practice to learn the game. If your dog is in the latter group, start by rolling the disk on the ground, allowing your dog to grab the disk (similar to playing with a ball). Next, warm up with short throws in the air nearby your dog, praising it when it retrieves the disk. If your dog is having trouble jumping to get the disk, try running with the disk, allowing your dog to grab it from your hand. Always praise your pet when it gets the disk. Soon enough, your dog will be running and leaping for disks all on its own!
(Photo from Carla C. via Pets We Love)
If your pooch has a lot of energy, consider taking it for a run. Ease your pet into running on a leash by starting at a slow pace and with short distances, increasing the length of your run as your dog gets used to the quickened pace. If you're not an avid runner, running with your pet can be a great way to ease into the sport and develop an activity that both you and your dog can enjoy for years to come.
(Photo from Mary H. via Pets We Love)
Teaching your dog obedience commands is a great way to keep your pet active and engaged. There are plenty of commands to choose from, including "sit," "stay," "shake," "roll over," "play dead"—the list goes on and on. Start with the basics, such as "sit" and "stay," then branch out to more challenging commands to test your dog's abilities.
(Photo from Linda B. via Pets We Love)
Agility courses are great for keeping your dog in top shape, and agility training is on the rise as one of the top dog sports. Of course, some breeds are more suited for agility training than others. But unless you plan to enter your pooch into agility competitions, any ol' dog can participate. From maneuvering seesaws to leaping obstacles, agility training can be great exercise not only for your pet, but for you as well—following your pet around the obstacle course can be a workout!
(Photo from Dawna A. via Pets We Love)
This little pup is on the road to the Final Four tournament! Getting puppies active as early as possible is recommended so they learn to appreciate playtime. A fun game to play with your pup is hide-and-seek. It's as easy as it sounds. Have someone distract your dog, hide in a not-too-difficult location, then call out to your pet. If your dog finds you, praise it, reward it, and hide again. But be careful: Dogs have better memories than you might think, so vary your hiding places to keep the game from becoming too easy!
(Photo from Nicole M. via Pets We Love)
A simple game of fetch is always good to get your dog moving. The key to a successful game of fetch is getting your dog to release the toy. Figure out a command to use signaling your dog to release the toy. Stay consistent with this command—if your dog brings back the toy but won't let you have it, offer a treat. When your dog drops the toy, give a treat and praise your dog. Eventually you'll be able to remove the treat as part of the game, substituting praise for the treat. Make sure to stop the game before your dog tires of it; this way, your dog will keep wanting more instead of becoming bored with the game.
(Photo from Lori S. via Pets We Love)
Make sure your pet has plenty of toys to choose from so it enjoys playtime. Tug-of-war is a fun game to play with your dog. Find a durable toy that is big enough for both you and your dog to grab ahold of. Teach your dog a command to drop the toy, such as "give" or "drop." Always keep a few treats handy to reward your pet for good behavior.
(Photo from April C. via Pets We Love)
This golden retriever takes its basketball bracket very seriously. If your dog is home alone while you're at work, come home over lunch to take it for a walk, or have a family member stop by to give your pet some exercise (so it doesn't surf the Web all day!). Or give your pet something to do while you're away—for example, fill a Kong toy with peanut butter or a morsel of cheese to give your pet a focus for its energy.
(Photo from Leesa F. via Pets We Love)
Dogs might be man's best friend, but a good dog toy just might be dog's best friend—or at least its favorite thing to play with! When the weather is nice, let your dog out in the yard with a good toy or bone, and let it enjoy the outdoors. Just make sure the yard is fenced or your dog is secured to a stake so that it stays on home turf.
(Photo from Michelle S. via Pets We Love)