You want to be the best dog owner you can be. But sometimes you don’t always have time to take your dog for a long hike or on a day trip to the dog beach. It can be tough – especially with high energy dogs – to keep up with your furry friend. Here are 5 quick and easy ways you can exercise your dog, and still fit everything else into your busy schedule.
- Throw the Ball!
If you don’t have time to go for a long walk, this is probably the first trick up your sleeve. And with good reason! This activity gets your dog moving without a lot of effort on your part. Plus it’s a great opportunity to bond with your dog.
A lot of dogs take to playing fetch very naturally. But what if your dog shows no interest? Or maybe your dog loves to fetch the ball, but isn’t so great at bringing it back. The AKC has a few recommendations on how you can teach your dog to fetch.
The goal when teaching your dog to enjoy playing fetch is showing them that interacting with their toy will be rewarding and fun for them. The best way to do this is to use their favorite treats. When working with your dog to teach them fetch, work slowly and patiently. Start by rewarding your dog even when they simply look at their favorite toy. Then work your way up to physical interactions with the toy, continuing to reward your dog with food.
Eventually you can do this exercise with a variety of different toys. Soon your dog will learn that it’s not about the reward they get from one toy, but the reward they get when playing with you!
This foundation of teaching your dog to have fun with you, not just the toy, is the basis of also getting your dog to return the toy to you. Follow the guidelines the AKC lays out and you and your dog will be fetching like old pros in no time.
- Run Your Dog Up and Down the Stairs
Some days you can’t even be bothered to leave the house. Maybe you had to take a sick day today. Maybe the weather is just too darn miserable for you and your dog to go out for more than a bathroom break. Whatever the reason, try using a toy almost all of us already have available – stairs!
Remember those fetch skills you and your dog learned? Put them to good use! Stand at the top of the stairs with your dog and their favorite toy. Throw the toy to the bottom of the stairs and let your dog run down to retrieve it. Then, call them back! Your dog will have to run back up the stairs to bring the toy back to you. Repeat this only a few times, and your dog will be twice as tired as they would be after a regular fetch game. In fact, this method of exercise is so effective, even Cesar Millan recommends it!
But maybe your dog isn’t so great at fetch yet. Not to worry! Playing on the stairs can be a great way to tire your dog out and practice their tricks and skills. Try practicing your dog’s recall skills using the stair case. Tell your dog to stay at the bottom of the stairs. Walk to the top and wait – making sure your dog waits at the bottom! When you are at the top of the stairs, call your dog to come to you. They will have to run up the stairs to obey. Repeat this training exercise a few times to tire your dog out and sharpen their skills!
- Use a Flirt Pole
This cool toy is not quite what it sounds like. So don’t click away yet! We promise you, a flirt pole is a real dog toy – and a great one too!
The toy consist of a stick that the owner holds, a string hanging off the end of that stick, and a toy attached to the end of the string. Although it may sound like an enlarged cat toy, dogs go crazy for it. See for yourself the styles that they come in.
The goal of the flirt pole is to wave the toy that is attached to a string in front of your dog and encourage them to chase it. The idea is that you are teasing your dog with the toy (Get it? Flirt?), and your dog will get excited and want to chase it. But don’t let them catch it! If your dog never catches the toy, you can spend lots of time – indoors or out – tiring your dog out with this simple game of keep away.
The flirt pole taps into that same instinct that many dogs have to chase a ball, with the added fun of never being able to catch it. We recommend trying this game in an outdoor space before testing it indoors. Some dogs go pretty wild for this game, and may knock a few things over! It’s a good idea to see how your dog reacts to it in a safe and open environment before introducing new elements.
- Catch the Water Spray
This is a fantastic game to play on a hot summer day. And all you need is a clean spray bottle and clean water!
Now some dogs get a bit nervous around a spray bottle, so this may not be for every pup out there. But many dogs absolutely love trying to catch the spray of water that comes from the bottle. Additionally, this is a great way to keep your dog cool on long, hot summer days.
To find out if your dog will like the spray bottle game, start small. Spray a bit of water to the side of your dog to see how they react. Don’t spray directly at them yet! This could scare them away from the game. Watch your dog’s response to the water as it passes next to them. If they appear curious, you can go a little further. Spray a bit of water near your dog’s mouth to see if they will try to catch it. Be sure to aim low! You don’t want to accidentally get the water in your dog’s eyes, as this could also turn your dog off to the game.
Give it a few tries and watch how your dog reacts. They may try to catch the water right away, or they may be a bit confused by it at first. If your dog seems to be getting nervous and tries to move away from the water, don’t push it! You don’t want to scare your dog or make them nervous.
If your dog loves the water spray and is having a great time trying to catch it, now is your chance to play with where you spray the water. Spray far away and get your dog to run to catch it. Spray up in the air to encourage your dog to jump up. Have fun with it! This game is great for your dog and hilarious for you. Just in time for summer!
- Blow Bubbles
Similar to the water spray, dogs will love to chase and catch the bubbles as they gently float to the ground! This is also a great alternative for a dog who is nervous around the spray bottle. Bubbles are slower and more gentle. Any dog can play!
Supplies for this game are pretty simple: any bottle of children’s bubbles will do. If you like, you can buy you and your dog a bubble machine for extra fun! But you may find that your dog doesn’t like the taste of soap. Lucky for you, there are alternatives for the concerned pet owner.
Buy some dog-friendly bubbles! (Honestly, what will they think of next?) These specially formulated bubbles are designed with your pup in mind. They are 100% non-toxic and are safe for both dogs and children, so your kids can play with the family dog too! And we almost forgot: they are flavored! These bubbles are actually made to smell like bacon. You’re welcome.
Have any other ideas for exercising your dog when you’re crunched for time? Share them with us! We’d love to know how you and your dog spend quality time.