Looking for ways to amp up physical and mental exercise for your pup?


This is such a hot topic for pet dog owners just like you.

We all want to see our pups happy and healthy and we all know that providing them with appropriate amounts and types of exercise are one of the key ways that we accomplish that.

Detailed below I have put together some really helpful tips, ideas, and truth bombs about what you could be adding to your current routine with your kiddos to take things to the next level of fun and satisfaction for them. 

First, it's really important to understand that there are 2 main types of exercise we will talk about in this article : 

Physical Exercise  VS Mental Exercise

Exercise, both physical and mental are absolutely essential to create a healthy, balanced dog but the two are very different from one another. 



Physical exercise, true physical exercise, must be regular and cause the expenditure of energy. It should not merely be a snail’s pace walk to the corner and back so that our dog can relieve himself. Although we live busy lives with limited time, providing your dog adequate physical exercise will cut back on many nuisance behaviors while helping us to keep them around longer by ensuring they remain healthy! Here are some basic ways to provide an appropriate amount of physical exercise for your dog : 


**Go for walks, the longer the better, and do not fall into the trap of forgoing walks because you have a fenced yard where your dog can play. It’s great to have a space where you can throw the ball or play a game of frisbee with your dog, but NOTHING TAKES THE PLACE OF A WALK!  Make a point to go for longer walks whenever possible, like a full hour long walk. Longer walks help your dog settle into a calmer energy level and help them feel like they are “traversing terrain” with their pack member (you), which is highly satisfying for them. Think about it, dogs in their natural environments would spend their days hunting and traveling across great distances with their pack members. How cool is it to give them a semblance of this experience, which they are designed to do daily? When we all our dogs, we are tapping into one of our dog’s primal needs, the need to feel “pack drive”, which is the rewarding energy of working together with other members of their pack, which includes YOU! So get out there and explore, move, and exercise with your dog. 


**If you are into running, running with your dog is an awesome way to burn a higher amount of energy in a faster amount of time. If you are not a runner, don’t worry. If you have a friend, family member, or even a neighborhood kid who runs track, chances are one of them would love to take your dog running!


**Teaching your dog to run next to a bicycle is another awesome way to help your dog expend tons of energy in a shorter amount of time. There is a great product called a K9 Cruiser (which you can purchase online) that attaches to your bike at your dog’s level to make this process even easier. This allows your dog to run next to you without needing to hold a leash in one of your hands. 


**You can train your dog to run on a treadmill to give them some higher intensity exercise before you go off to work. Works for people, so if your dog is into it, why not? Start with just a few minutes and work your way up to a 30 minute treadmill exercise session. 


**Diversity is everything! Get out and go walking or hiking in new locations regularly. Try to find at least one new location every week to add some excitement and diversity to the outings you are taking with your dog!


**If your dog likes to swim and you are nearby a source of clean water, take your dog swimming whenever possible. If they are into retrieving, you might look into a sport called Dock Diving where you combine the game of fetch with swimming as the dog learns to make longer jumps to catch the toy being tossed off the dock. This provides an incredible amount of exercise for your dog while they are having a blast AND expanding their strength and coordination skills. 


**Playing games like tug, flirt pole, and spring pole can create a healthy outlet for natural prey drive while giving them some high energy exercise. It is important that you learn how to properly play these games with your dogs, establish rules and boundaries so that it is controlled, safe, and fun. 


**Weight Pull can be a great exercise for dogs as well. Whether you explore training your dog to pull you on hikes, bike rides, on roller-skates or skateboards,  using a skijoring harness OR you venture into resistance training using a professionally pull harness and low weight for longer periods, many dogs can find it deeply satisfying to pull. http://canineresistancetrainingcrt.vhx.tv is an excellent source for education on pull work. 



Mental Exercise is not about movements and burning calories. It is about helping your dog to burn mental energy by stimulating their minds. A lack of sufficient mental stimulation is often the root cause for all kinds of behavior problems from barking and destructive chewing to more serious issues like separation anxiety. Dogs are incredibly intelligent and thrive on using their brains on a. Daily basis to feel balanced, satiated, and purposeful. Here are some tips for how to engage your dog mentally : 


**Teach your dog tricks! Even the most basic trick, like “sit pretty” or “roll over” can get your dog thinking and engaging with you. The sky is the list with tricks and once your dog starts learning how to learn, you will see them start to learn new tricks more quickly. 


**Teach your dog a “find it” game where they begin to learn how to search for rewards in hidden places. You may even choose to feed them their food in this manner so that they are extra inspired to use their noses to hunt out their dinner. 


**Teach your dog to do Scent Detection. If you dog has a penchant for using his nose, then this may be an awesome way to exercise his natural instincts while using some brain power! Scent work can be lighthearted and fun, it is not just for police dogs or bomb sniffing working dogs. Did you know that you can train your dog to find a particular target odor (pick one essential oil) and then place that odor on objects (like your car keys) and … voila! You have an awesome game to play that may also come in handy someday!


**Do agility with your dog. This one is certainly a combination of physical and mental exercise but it takes a huge amount of mental energy to navigate a good agility course. You can set up your own course in your backyard and start keeping track of the time it takes your dog to run the course. You can easily find affordable agility equipment online, or if you are handy, you could build a few basic jumps, a catwalk, and even a weave pole to get you started. Agility is not only a great challenge for your dog, but it can also be an amazing way to bond with your high every dog! 


**Teach your dog to retrieve items by their name. Did you know that dogs can learn over 150 words? If you have a dog who loves to pick things up in their mouth and bring them to you, this is a great game that can challenge your dog to think and, once again, may come in handy sometime. You can train your dog to get your shoes, the newspaper, or even a beer out of the fridge. How cool is that!?


**Begin obedience training!! This is, by far, the holy grail of mental stimulation for a dog. Not only does obedience work engage your dog mentally, but it creates building blocks of learned behaviors that establish greater lines of communication between you and your dog, AND highly rewards your dog by fostering. Deeper bond with their leader (that means you!!). Think about this…we all want our dogs to understand what we want from them AND we want them to understand what they mean to us. While dogs do not innately understand our words, they can readily learn what we mean, but ONLY IF WE TEACH THEM! The act of teaching is in itself a loving act when we reassure our dogs that they are understanding us well. What better way to convey our devotion and esteem for our dogs than by giving them our time, our patience, and our attention while teaching them how to understand us better? So get involved in teaching your dog something that will not only give them a fair shot at knowing what you want, but will also give them something incredibly rewarding to do with their brains!