Off the Beaten Path: 10 Fun Ways to Exercise Your Dog

It’s easy to fall into the rut of simply visiting the dog park every day, but that often isn’t the best way to exercise your dog. Here are a few easy ways to leave that familiar park and create a well-rounded exercise program for your dog.

Hit the Trail


Hiking is a fun activity for you and your dog. In addition to the physical exercise, your dog can experience new smells and sights. Just be sure to take reasonable safety precautions, especially on longer hikes.

Play Hide-and-Seek


Play hide-and-seek by putting your dog in a stay, then hiding somewhere in the house or yard and calling your dog to you. When your dog arrives, play with a toy or simply playfully run away for a bit of chase. This is a great way to bond with your dog and get a little bit of cardio in for yourself.

Mix Up the Terrain


Improve your dog’s conditioning and balance by intentionally choosing areas with uneven and variable terrain. Deep sand, rocky areas and more help build muscle and teach your dog to pay attention.

Create a DIY Obstacle Course


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Agility and obstacle courses are a great way to exercise high-energy dogs, but the equipment can be expensive. Consider making some of it at home, or use hula hoops, couch cushions, flower pots and more to create your own backyard course.

Start Climbing


Improve your dog’s endurance and stamina by walking up hills. This is particularly good for conditioning elderly dogs, because it allows them to stay fit without too much added strain. Start with gentler hills and work your way up to steeper ones.

Teach Your Dog to Search


Hide your dog’s favorite toys or treats around your house, yard or the park, then let your dog sniff them out. This provides physical and mental exercise and is an excellent indoor game for rainy days.

Arrange Puppy Playdates


Playing with other dogs can tire your dog out far more effectively than walking alone, but not all dogs enjoy it. Watch for signs of aggression or fear to ensure that everyone has a good time.

Break It Up


Try to exercise your dog at least twice a day. This helps break up long days and keeps your dog focused more than a single daily walk.

Use the Stairs


Have your dog run up and down the stairs for a more strenuous indoor workout. The easiest way to do this is to play fetch with you standing at the top of the stairs and throwing the toy to the bottom. If your dog is very young or arthritic, check with your vet before doing this.

Hit the Treadmill


This one takes a bit of training, but most dogs learn to love it. Use positive training methods so your dog thinks that running on the treadmill is fun. Start out using the leash to guide your dog, but never tie your dog to the treadmill in any way.

Get Creative and Know Your Dog


Exercise is an important part of keeping your dog healthy and happy, but dogs have different preferences so choose activities that your dog gets excited about. Here are two dogs that practically exercise themselves!

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