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National Canine Fitness Month: Bone & Biscuit’s Guide To Keeping Your Dog Active

Keeping your dog active is an essential part of maintaining your dog’s health. Every dog will have a different fitness style and will need a routine that works for them, and you. Because April is National Canine Fitness Month, we wanted to bring awareness to the importance of dog fitness and provide you with tips on keeping your dog active.  

Looking for advice on how to get your dog exercising, or just need some ideas for some fun dog activities to try? Then read on for Bone & Biscuit’s guide to keeping your dog active.

Two black and white collies run along a beach in wet sand, one holding a yellow tennis ball in its mouth as the dogs exercise.
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels

Why Dog Fitness Is Important for Pet Health

Keeping your dog active is a key part of your pet’s health. Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise to keep them active and healthy. Canine fitness and exercising your dog are also important for keeping your dog mentally engaged and stimulated. Much like with people, exercise can help prevent health problems, reduce stress and build strength for dogs too. 

Regularly exercising your dog can help prevent health problems like dog obesity, as well as heart disease, arthritis and other health problems. It can also help to keep your dog mentally stimulated and keep them from boredom and acting out. The amount and type of exercise a dog needs can depend on their age, breed and size, but even without taking these factors into account, every dog needs daily exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Here’s a quick list of how exercising your dog can improve their overall health, from VCA Animal Hospitals and Animal Wellness Magazine:

A reddish brown coloured down happily splashes in the waves at a beach.
Photo by Oscar Sutton on Unsplash

As their owners and guardians, it’s our job to make sure they get the exercise they need to live healthy and happy lives.

Canine Fitness And Your Dog’s Mental Health

An australian shepherd with white, grey and black fur chases down a flying red frisbee in a grassy field, getting his daily dog exercise in.
Photo by Brixiv from Pexels

Dog fitness isn’t just for your dog’s physical health; it’s also an essential part of your dog’s mental health. Exercising your dog, whether that’s with an active game, a long hike, or an agility class, all help to stimulate your dog’s brain and keep them mentally active as well.

Exercising your dog helps to avoid boredom, improve their sleep, tires them out to discourage destructive behaviour, destress your dog, and is also great bonding time with you. Dogs crave our attention, and can quickly become lonely and stressed without enough bonding time.

Exercising your dog means that you can spend quality time with them, keep their minds active, and keep them physically healthy, too.

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need

Exercise is vital for any dog. But how much exercise does your dog need?

The right routine and activities for your dog can depend on their size, health, age and breed. While some do need vigorous exercise for a couple of hours in a day, others might need less. Dr. Karen Becker notes that “In general, dogs need a minimum of 20 minutes a day of exercise.” This type of exercise can include hikes, agility training, runs, swimming, playing fetch and more. Getting your dog’s heart rate up is what makes rigorous exercise different, and better, than simply letting your dog out in your backyard.

Overweight dogs will need more than 20 minutes of rigorous exercise. Dr. Becker recommends striving for an hour of exercise a day to maximize your dog’s health. Rigorous exercise can include hikes, agility training, runs, swimming, playing fetch and more.

While an hour may seem daunting to add to your routine, there are plenty of ways to fit in the appropriate amount of exercise for your dog. For instance, you don’t need to commit to doing the full hour all at once.

A woman and her miniature Australian shepherd run through some agility training courses on a sunny day outside to give her dog exercise.
Photo by Blue Bird on Pexels

Splitting up the hour into two to three chunks in a day, such as a half-hour hike in the morning and one in the evening, maybe easier to fit in than trying to do it all at once.

An hour every day may still be too much for your dog or routine. Just remember that while the goal is to aim for an hour every day, making sure your dog gets more than the minimum 20 minutes of exercise daily is what’s important. Taking your dog to doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker are also great ways to ensure your dog is getting the exercise they need while you are at work.

How to Encourage Your Dog To Exercise (When They Don’t Want to)

A beagle lays with its head down in the grass on a sunny day with a leash attached.
Photo by Creative Vix from Pexels

Most dogs usually enjoy a good walk or playtime, while some dogs just don’t enjoy exercising! While it can be frustrating to motivate your dog to exercise, finding ways to get your dog to exercise is still important.

Whether your dog is afraid to go outside, is a bit of a couch potato, or only likes to play games, angling their exercise to suit their personality will go a long way to motivate them.

Here are some quick tips to motivate your dog to exercise:

  • Give them rewards when they exercise, such as treats or their favourite toy.
  • Use words of encouragement and keep your tone of voice happy and reassuring, especially for more anxious dogs.
  • Create games that force them to exercise, such as finding their toy in a homemade agility course.
  • Try out different types of exercises, such as walks and hikes, swimming, agility training, or tug of war, and focus on the ones they seem most keen to do.
  • Try and do the exercises with them, such as dog yoga, swimming, or agility courses, as they’ll feel more comfortable and excited to have you there to support them.
  • Create a schedule, as many dogs like to have a routine and doing exercise sporadically can be stressful for some dogs. Once they feel more comfortable with the schedule, they’ll be more likely to enjoy it and expect it.

Fun Dog Activities To Get Your Dog Exercising

There are so many fun activities to exercise your dog. From the classic dog walks in the neighbourhood to organized activities like agility training, there’s something for every dog and every owner to enjoy.

If you’re looking for some ideas to get you and your dog exercising this spring and summer, here are some fun outdoor and indoor dog activities to try:

Outdoor Dog Activities:

  • Walking or hiking with your dog
  • Jogging with your dog
  • Swimming with your dog
  • Outdoor agility classes or build an agility course for your dog *
  • Outdoor obedience classes with your dog *
  • Frisbee or playing fetch with your dog
  • Try teaching your dog scent work with smelly treats
  • Camping with your dog
  • Setting up your sprinkler or kiddie pool for a dog water park at home
  • Set up a scavenger hunt with toys or treats for your dog
  • Take your dog with you for outdoor activities, like geocaching or visiting a farmer’s market
  • Set up a ball pit with a kiddie pool and balls or toys for your dog
  • Try flyball with your dog, either by signing up for training or setting up a course and throwing the ball yourself for your dog *
  • Try teaching them the dog sport ‘dock jumping’, or dock diving, especially on hot days *
  • Sign up or train your dog yourself for lure coursing *
  • Take your dog shopping: we love seeing your leashed pets visit us in-store!
A golden retriever puppy gets its canine fitness in by chasing down a yellow frisbee in a green field.
Photo by Andrew Wagner on Unsplash

* Remember that while signing up for classes is a great way to socialize your dog and teach them new tricks, there are always ways you can learn to teach your dog sports and other activities yourself at home. These dog sports can be great competitive activities for your dog, but you don’t need to compete to keep your dog active or happy!

Indoor Dog Activities:

  • Indoor agility training class with your dog
  • Indoor obedience class and training with your dog
  • Play tug-of-war with your dog*
  • Set up an indoor scavenger hunt with toys or treats for your dog
  • Try dog yoga, or ‘doga’, with your dog at home or with a class if available
  • Teach your dog new tricks
  • Teach your dog some dance choreography, otherwise known as the dog sport ‘freestyle’
  • Use your stairs for an indoor running course, especially if they have a lot of pent up energy and can’t go outdoors
  • Play hide and seek with your dog

* When playing tug-of-war, ensure that you can train your dog to let go on command. If they don’t, this can lead to future behavioural issues and make it difficult to make your dog let go when you need them to, such as when they’re eating something they shouldn’t.

National Canine Fitness Month: Keep Your Dog Active This April And Year-Round

An active dog is a healthy and happy dog. There are so many ways to get your dog the exercise they need, no matter their personality. Once you find a routine that works for you and your dog, you’ll be off to the races!

If you’re looking for advice on products or treats to help motivate your dog to exercise, or if you simply need to re-up on your pet’s food, stop by your local Bone & Biscuit store today.

A beagle with his tongue out runs along a trail in a sunny forest getting its dog exercise in.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

*Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post, such as any graphics, images, text and other material contained on this site are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is at your own risk. If you have medical concerns or need advice for your dog or cat, please seek out your closest holistic or integrative veterinarian.

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