Pudgy dogs might look cute, but extra weight is bad for your dog’s health. According to the Pet Health Network, overweight dogs are at risk of developing arthritis, heart conditions, breathing problems, and skin diseases, and generally have a poor quality of life compared to dogs at a healthy weight. Along with feeding appropriate portions, exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your pup fit and healthy. Here are some ways you can meet your dog’s daily exercise needs.

In the Backyard

Your backyard should be more than a glorified dog bathroom. In fact, the backyard should be your dog’s favorite place — where his owners take him out for fetch, tug-of-war, scent work, training sessions, and other fun games.

It’s hard to beat the backyard when it comes to convenience. When you get home after a long day, it’s easy to walk out the back door and play with your pooch. However, not all backyards are created equal. If yours isn’t fenced, your dog could chase a ball straight into traffic, get into an altercation with an aggressive dog, cause damage to a neighbor’s yard, or even get into poisonous plants or chemicals. Most homeowners spend between $216 and $4,399 to install a fence, but it’s a worthy investment for your dog’s safety.

Once the fence is up, turn your backyard into a doggie paradise. Create a toy station stocked with balls and Frisbees for fetch, set up obstacles for agility training, and install a water feature for splashing around and grabbing a cool drink. Don’t forget to create shaded areas where your dog can cool down on hot days.

On the Go

Spending all your time in the backyard gets boring for you and your pup. For a change of pace, take your dog out for exercise away from home. For most dog owners, walks are the go-to. All you need for a walk is a comfortable leash and bags to pick up waste. When you’re shopping for a leash, look for a design that’s both comfortable for your dog and easy for you to use. Pooches that pull or lunge should be kept on a shorter lead.

Don’t restrict yourself to strolls around the neighborhood. Take your walk to the trails for some hiking, drop by the lake for aquatic fetch, or head to the dog park where your pup can romp with other dogs. If your dog doesn’t do well with large groups, schedule a playdate with another dog owner for more laid-back socialization.

Want to take it up a notch? Let your dog run beside you while you bike, rollerblade, or skateboard. Your dog will love running at full speed and you’ll get a cardio workout of your own. To minimize risk of injury, restrict these high-speed activities for dogs with impeccable leash skills.

When You’re Busy

Sometimes keeping up with your dog’s exercise needs yourself simply isn’t possible. When you’re sick, traveling, or your schedule is just that jam-packed, it’s important to have a back-up plan so your dog doesn’t suffer. If your dog lives for walks, form a relationship with a local dog walker who can drop by to take your pooch on a stroll. Dog walkers are also great for mid-day walks when you’re at the office. For pups that love to play with others, consider doggy daycare. Doggy daycares let your pet play with other dogs in a supervised environment, but as iHeartDogs points out, daycare isn’t right for every dog.

As important as your dog’s health is, that’s not the only reason to exercise your pup. Dogs that get adequate exercise also have fewer behavior problems than under-exercised dogs. If you want a healthier, more harmonious life with your pooch, it’s time to clip on the leash and head outside.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Author: Aurora James


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