Is Fido sporting a canine spare tire? Does Fluffy get out of breath simply walking up the stairs? Sad but true, pet obesity is the No. 1 health threat to our furry friends and can be largely blamed on lack of physical activity. If you've got a couch potato pup, we've got six fun ways to get him into shape.
Yes, it seems so elementary to take your dog for walks, but too often it's easy to find excuses to skip the daily jaunt. Over time, your cuddly canine becomes a pudgy pet who isn't even interested in the leash anymore. Prioritize your pawed pal and start a daily walking routine. Lori Morton-Feazell, Director of Animal Care, Education and Compliance at Petco, says short walks can motivate a lazy pet to be active. She suggests, "Start slow with 20-minute walks for the first week and then increase the time and/or distance."
Some dogs love being a lone wolf and prefer solo activities while other pups relish social opportunities with other friendly canines. Take advantage of your social butterfly's personality and check him into a doggy day care that offers multi-dog activities. Compare facilities, pricing, and services at Care.com. The right doggy day care will give your furry friend the mental and physical stimulation she needs to keep her happy and healthy.
Your dog needs fresh air and you do too. Take your pup to a nearby dog park and let her play. The freedom of running and romping with other dogs will enrich her mind and give her the exercise she needs. Invite a fellow dog lover to go with you or take the opportunity to meet new pet parents, which will help keep you motivated to make play dates for your pup.
Agility classes are a fun way to improve your pup's fitness as well as give her a big boost in confidence. National dog training expert Fanna Easter recommends agility classes because they introduce new activities to your pet that challenge her body and mind. Consider agility training the boot camp equivalent for canines.
Consider yourself blessed if your dog doesn't shred your couch or chew your shoes when he is left to his own devices. But that apathy towards chewing may be a symptom that your dog is suffering from depression (yes, dogs can get the blues, too). Morton-Feazell recommends toys to perk up your pet and give him a reason to move. "Try a ball, squeaky toy or Frisbee or other interactive dog toys," she explains. "This stimulates your pet mentally by encouraging him to think and is good for his physical health." Make it even more fun for your pet by hiding treat-stuffed toys around the house and teach him to sniff them out.
If your schedule doesn't allow enough time for you to exercise your dog, consider a professional dog walker. Don't nix the idea because you think it means you're a terrible pet parent -- good pet parents recognize their limitations and put their dog's well-being ahead of feeling guilty.
More dog care tips
5 Questions to determine the best care for your dog
Expert tips for apartment life with a dog
Exercises you can do with your pet