When you have a dog, there’s always a reason to get outside. Whether you take a daily walk every evening after dinner or go on a brisk morning jog as the sun rises, you’re probably doing some form of exercise with your dog every day—at least you should be.
In fact, one study from Michigan State University found dog owners are 34 percent more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise each week—150 minutes—than people without a canine pet.
However, after sticking to the same exercise routine for weeks, months, or even years, it can get kind of boring. Here are seven ways you can make sure getting the proper exercise for both you and your dog can stay exciting.
1. Switch Up Your Route
The best way to keep it fresh when you exercise with your pup is to mix up your walking route. If you’ve exhausted all the possible paths within walking distance of your home, try driving somewhere first, and then exploring the new area. Your dog is sure to love all the new smells a trail in another location will provide.
2. Let Your Pup Explore
If you have a big dog, passersby on your walks might frequently ask, “Who’s walking who?” For an interesting twist, why not actually let your pooch lead the way? Follow them wherever they wander, letting them sniff and explore as much as they’d like. Remember, this is one of the only opportunities your four-legged friend has outdoors, so let them make the most of it.
3. Buddy Up
If you have friends with dogs, why not join forces to make sure everyone gets their daily exercise? This method makes sure you all get your physical workouts, in addition to having a chance to socialize with fellow pet owners. Not to mention your dogs get some much-needed playtime, too.
4. Change Your Speed
Maybe a new route isn’t what you need, but a new speed, instead. If you and your pup are used to a leisurely stroll, try kicking it up to a sweat-breaking jog instead. Or, if you have a younger dog, try going on full-out runs together. Not only will this save you time, in theory, but you’ll also reap the many health benefits of running.
Whether you’re walking or running, sufficient exercise has countless benefits for your dog, such as helping them maintain a healthy weight and preventing GI tract disorders.
5. Try Sports Relevant to the Weather
While activities like running, biking, and going on walks are best during the mild temperatures of spring and fall, there are plenty of opportunities for exercise in the summer and winter as well. From kayaking and paddle boarding in the summer to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter, extreme weather is never an excuse to not get outside with your dog.
Besides, most pups won’t object to a nice romp in the snow or a dip in the lake, anyway.
6. Make an Obstacle Course
Do you have a little Einstein puppy on your hands? See how smart your pooch really is while also getting them the exercise they need by setting up an obstacle course. Start out using things from around the house—for example, place a broom across a few bins and try to get your dog to jump over it. If it works, you can invest in some seriously cool courses to see how smart your dog really is.
Oh, and you don’t get off scot-free with this one, either. You’ll probably be doing a lot of running back and forth encouraging your dog to jump through hoops—literally.
7. Sign Up for a Race
Increasingly more rescue groups, veterinary offices and other organizations are holding fundraisers in the form of pet-friendly walks or runs. See if any are taking place near you and sign up. Not only will you have a new activity to train for, but you’ll also be donating to a good cause.
Get Creative for the Best Workouts with Your Four-Legged Friend
Every dog—and every human—are different and have different exercise needs. The best way to make sure you both are having fun while you move is by finding the things that work best for you. Stick to a routine but be sure to also rotate in a few fun activities throughout the week. Start out by incorporating one or a few of these seven ideas on your next exercise mission.