It’s Active Dog Month! That’s right - after a long, often gloomy and cold winter, it’s time to celebrate the spring and get out and about with your pup, and we can’t wait.
Active Dog Month is very important, and we’ll tell you why. Dogs are extremely energetic creatures, and over the years it’s becoming more and more apparent that they simply aren’t getting the exercise and activity required for them to remain their happiest and healthiest.
This is super concerning, so this month it’s especially important to think about different ways to get your dog up and moving. We’ve got plenty of ideas to help you out, so keep reading to discover more ways to keep your dog active!
When people think about exercising their dogs, the first thing that comes to mind is usually walking. Now, most dogs love a good walk - the ones at Barking Heads HQ are certainly partial to one - but it’s worth considering whether this is always enough.
You see, there are hundreds of different dog breeds, all of which will have their own biological predispositions and requirements for ensuring that they remain healthy. Plus, each dog is going to have their own preferences, attitudes, likes and dislikes. When it comes to dogs, one size most certainly does not fit all. If you disagree, then we invite you to try and fit a dog jumper belonging to a Miniature Schnauzer onto a Great Dane!
So, walk your dog - but make sure you’re doing it enough so that it is actually making an impact on them and their energy levels. Observe your pooch and check how energetic they are before, during and after, while adjusting your routine as necessary. Make sure to try new routes and mix it up a little, as this will be exciting and stimulating for your dog’s brain.
From puppyhood to old age, most dogs love playing games, and many of these are brilliant for keeping them moving.
Some classics, like fetch and tug-of-war, are perfect as they require pups to use up a lot of energy, strength and movement. But there are plenty of opportunities to be a little bit more creative!
Mix up classic games with new ideas; you can combine elements of the old and new or just make them up as you go along. This has the additional bonus of being a super fun way to spend time and bond with your pooch. There are sports games that you can play, like doggie basketball or football; all you need to do is use some makeshift furniture to use as a goal post and wait for your dog to learn the ropes.
Another idea is to introduce toys into the mix. For example, your dog can put their inherited hunting or scavenger skills to work in a game of hide and seek. If they’re a social butterfly, you could also set up playdates with other dog owners that you know - ensuring your pups are both friendly with fellow doggies - and allow them to play together.
To ensure that your dog stays active and healthy, it’s vital that they are eating healthy food that’ll provide them with the correct amount of energy. A lot of pet food companies aren’t prioritising these things, instead they’re selling junk food that’s full of GM products, artificial flavours, preservatives, and other nasty bits - like using animal derivatives instead of quality cuts of meat. We know - gross!
The good news is that there is quality pet food on the market that cooks up recipes using healthy products and are packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals and a hearty quality meat content… for example, Barking Heads!
If your pet has gained weight from a previous poor diet - or lack of exercise - it’s important to help them slim down a little bit so they can be as healthy as can be.
Another great thing to do is incorporate exercise and activity into your pup’s mealtime process. Dogs used to have to hunt for their food, so this can be a really stimulating activity for their brains and bodies. Use healthy treats in games and training, or find a fun way to feed your dog - like a scavenger hunt, small obstacle course, or by using a feeding toy to keep things interesting.
4. Tricks and Training
Tricks and training are really fun ways to spend quality time with your four-legged friend. It’s also a brilliant way to keep their brains stimulated, their bodies moving, and to incorporate a bit more activity into their days.
Now, no one is saying that you have to get your dog ready to win awards at Crufts - it’s all about the fun (and the exercise). There are plenty of simple tricks you can learn - like shaking paws, high fiving, closing the door or fetching things.
If your dog really loves this, you can get a bit more adventurous. Try teaching your pup to play dead, roll over, weave in between your legs, stay on their own hind legs or spin. The world really is your oyster here - you can be as creative as you like as long as your pooch is enjoying themselves. You can even incorporate different tricks into games as well as encouraging activity and stimulation in your pup! What a win-win situation.
5. Outdoor Activities
Now that it’s spring-time, the days will be getting longer, lighter and (hopefully) a little bit warmer, meaning it’ll be much easier to spend time outdoors with your canine companion.
Not only does this mean long walks outside and games in the garden, but it could also give you the chance to engage in some more exciting outdoor adventures perfect for keeping your dog active.
For example, loads of dogs actually love the water. It could be fun to take them swimming (or at least paddling) if there’s somewhere safe nearby. You could even play fetch in the shallow end! Or, if walking isn’t quite cutting it for your pup, you could try taking them running or cycling with you. If your dog enjoys lots of exercise as well as a bit of problem solving, you could get them involved in agility by signing up to a local class and practicing at home.
Like we said, all dogs are different - and yours may or may not enjoy any of the activities that we’ve listed. Particularly with things like this, it’s important to consider whether your pooch can enjoy any of these activities safely, i.e if they’re fit and healthy enough to keep up with you. And of course, it’s vital to always start off with these things slowly so that your pup can figure out exactly what’s going on, and most importantly, decide whether they enjoy it or not.
We all want to be good pet parents, and above all else our dog’s health and happiness comes first. They love the quality time they spend with their humans, so it’s great to be creative and try new things, especially when these will be keeping your dog healthy.
Do you and your pup get up to any of these activities together? Tell us all about it! Bonus points to anyone who sends us over any super cute photos of their dogs exercising (or chowing down on a yummy Barking Heads dinner). Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!