Beyond the walk: 5 new ways to exercise your pet

Jun 1, 2013 at 3:38 a.m. ET

Everyone benefits from a little bit of variety in their exercise routine. If your pooch can't get rid of his paunch--or if he's jaded by his daily jaunt--consider adding unconventional exercises to your doggy's workout regimen.

Dog exercising in water

Water workouts

There's a reason why water workouts are popular with humans. Water workouts allow people with joint pain to experience a no-impact cardio burn that they aren't able to obtain through walking or jogging. Many times, dogs also suffer from joint pain due to injury, old age, or obesity, which can make it hard for them to lose excess pounds. If your pup has joint pain, it's fairly simple to implement a water workout into his daily exercise through swimming or underwater treadmills (and he won't even have to shimmy into a bikini). Check out SlimDoggy for information on how to complete a therapeutic water workout with your dog.



Isolated dog treats

Sometimes, excitable dogs can go on a five-mile walk and still have the energy to tear up their owner's garden upon return. If you desperately need a tired (read: well-behaved) dog and physical exercise isn't cutting it, you can utilize brain games to wear her out. Just hide treats around the house and reward her with a lot of praise when she finds one. Soon enough, she'll know it's a game, and it will keep her entertained and exhausted.


Treadmills and weight vests

Many high-energy dog breeds emerged long ago, when humans needed these special breeds to hunt badgers and quail for hearty meat stews. It turns out that most Americans don't need fresh badger meat anymore, nor do they need their Pointers to actually point out prey, nor do they need their Shepherds to actually herd their sheep. This means that a lot of very special dogs with oodles of energy aren't able to get the exercise they need in a quaint one-bedroom apartment. Many dog trainers suggest that owners provide their dogs with opportunities to burn off energy on a treadmill or with the use of a weight vest. We suggest PetZen's version of both a doggy treadmill and weight vest so your pup can burn energy to his heart's content.


Human sports

Usually, dogs are known for their wonderful ability to ruin the sports their owners enjoy by stealing a baseball that's in play or running out onto the sand volleyball court when a volley really gets going. But there are some pretty cool ideas out there for how to incorporate your pooch into the sports you already enjoy. If you're a biker, consider the Springer America bike attachment that will safely allow your dog to jog beside you. Or, if you're really feeling creative, check out Soccer Collies. Soccer Collies is a travelling team of border collies that actually play soccer against human teams. Maybe it's a bit of a reach for your pup, but it might be fun to just kick and nudge a ball around the field with him, if you're so inspired.


isolated happy dog

Obstacle and agility courses

For dogs who love a challenge, obstacle and agility courses might be a great addition to their routine. You can either purchase a kit, like the obstacle course or agility kit available from Kygen, or you can take your pup to a dog park with obstacles. If you feel a little lost out there on your own with an obstacle course and confused dog, Zoom Room training and agility centers offer obstacle courses and training for newbies and experts alike.

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