A man running with his dog on a city sidewalk

It’s time to walk the dog… Again. But it seems as if your feet are getting tired of the same path every day and that your dog is definitely getting bored with endlessly sniffing the same patch of grass. So you wonder – is there a better way to exercise you pet?

There is! In fact, there is a growing consensus that there are dozens of ways to exercise your pet aside from the daily walk. Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital has some ideas for ways to have fun with your pet while upping your physical conditioning game as well. 

Exercising Your Pet

All animals need exercise. Dogs need to run. Cats need to play. Even hamsters need to spin on their wheels. Without exercise, pets are likely to become bored, possibly destructive, and definitely overweight. Benefits of pet exercise include:

  • Aiding in digestion
  • Providing mental stimulation
  • Expelling excess energy
  • Lubricating joints
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Preventing boredom

But how can you keep you and your pet going? 

Fun Ways With Cat Exercise

Because cats rarely run up to us with balls in their mouths, people assume cats don’t need to play or exercise. But cats benefit from exercise and social interaction as much as dogs do. 

Cats are essentially miniature lions living in our homes, and the most enjoyable exercise for them mimics their natural hunting, stalking, and chasing behaviors. Try the following games to exercise your pet cat:

Feather wand play – A fishing pole type toy with a mouse, ribbon, or feathers on the end is a great way to exercise your cat as they run, leap, and try to catch the “prey”.

Hide and seek – Elicit your cat’s hunting behaviors by hiding their favorite treats around the house. Remember to go up the cat tower, onto their favorite perch, or up the stairs to get them moving.

Fetch – Yes, cats can learn to fetch, and some do this naturally! If your cat is into a game of fetch, this can be great exercise.

Laser pointer tag – A laser pointer will get your cat going just like the feather wand. Just make sure you intersperse laser pointer games with a real toy that she can catch to avoid frustration.

Kitty Hockey – Place some balls in the bathtub along with your cat (make sure she’s willing!) and watch her scramble after the balls while getting a great workout

Cat tower or vertical shelves for perching – Climbing is great exercise, and you can create any number of wonderful climbing obstacles for your cat, depending on your space. 

Cats also love crinkle paper and other toys that elicit exciting sounds when “attacked”. You don’t need to spend a fortune on cat toys, either. Simple paper and a cardboard box can provide great physical and mental exercise.

For The Dogs

Although fenced yards provide a safe, secure place for dogs to explore outside, every dog still deserves some time outside their yard. Here are some ideas for exercising your dog to keep you going:

Running with your dog – Running is great exercise, and can be enjoyable for you as well as your dog. Not all breeds are disposed to running however. And take safety into consideration, of course, before embarking on a running program.

Flyball – Flyball is a competitive sport similar to a human relay race. Dogs are on teams, and race down a course over 4 hurdles. At the end of the course is a box with balls inside. The dog steps on a lever to release a ball before racing back over the hurdles to the start. Once they cross the line, the next dog on the team can start. Great exercise and great fun for dogs and their handlers.

Exercise in the park – If you’re into a workout for two, an exercise routine in the park or even your own backyard can provide fun as well as physical and mental exercise for you both. 

Agility class – An agility course or group class can work off the pounds while teaching your dog confidence and new skills. 

Swimming – Swimming with your dog can be a very effective way to reduce weight and improve muscle tone without straining joints. Some safety precautions are necessary, so talk to us before swimming with your dog. 

Fun with other dogs – For some dogs, spending time playing with other dogs is the best exercise and fun they can get. As long as your dog enjoys other dog pals, this is a great way to keep your dog fit.

Taking your daily walk with your dog and following the same path isn’t such a bad thing, as long as you both enjoy it. But incorporating new ways to burn off some pounds, have fun, and just enjoy being with your pet can open up new opportunities for learning skills, reducing boredom, and become more confident. 

Give us a call if you have any questions about exercising your pet. Your team at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital is here for your pet health questions and concerns.