April is Active Dog Month! So this blog post is all about fun ways to keep your dog active physically and mentally, both indoors and outdoors.
Dogs can be completely healthy with basic exercise activities: regular walks/runs, fetch, playing with tug toys, or chasing squirrels and birds in the backyard.
But sometimes you want to try something new: maybe your dog gets bored with the tennis ball. Or maybe you want to “game-ify” exercising the dog so that your kids can stay interested in caring for the dog (for more about getting kids involved with your dog’s care, read this post in our Ultimate Puppy Prep Series!).
If some new and fun exercises for you and your dog are what you’re looking for, then this post is for you!
The AKC says that the amount of exercise your dog needs depends on its breed, temperament, age, and overall health. Some research into your dog’s breed will give you a good idea for what your dog will typically need to stay happy and healthy. As you exercise your own dog, you’ll get a good idea of whether they want more or less.
Since Golden Retrievers were bred as working dogs (learn more about the breed’s history here!), they have lots of energy that needs to be expressed! Most Goldens will need around 90 minutes per day of high-quality exercise. Under-exercising your Golden can lead to more than just weight problems, too - under-stimulated dogs might become anxious or destructive (like chewing on shoes or furniture).
Since your puppy’s body is still growing, over-exercising can cause health problems. Purina’s UK website states a formula for knowing how much to exercise your puppy: “No more than five minutes for each month of age, two times a day” and less for larger breeds (like Golden Retrievers). For example, a five month old puppy would need two 25-minute exercise breaks per day at the maximum.
This is a simple twist on a regular walk! Instead of you making your dog follow a set walking route, have your dog lead you where they might want to go. For even more fun, take your dog to a new location where they’ve never been before, and let them explore!
Some kinds of obedience training can be done outside and used as exercise, especially if you have two or more people. Training “come” or “fetch” can make the dog do a lot of running around!
For super-active breeds, such as border collies, sheepdogs, and other dogs bred for herding, classes in canine sports (like agility, disc throwing, dock jumping, flyball, lure coursing, and more) provide great physical exercise as well as mental stimulation.
Of course, you don’t need to have a class to just throw around a flying disc. But the sports add in different rules, obstacles, and objectives to make the games more competitive and fun for your dog and even you, too!
Many dogs, and Golden Retrievers specifically, love to swim! Just like humans, swimming is a great, gentle exercise for dogs that requires the use of many different muscle groups in the body. Because it’s easy on the joints, swimming is also a great option for senior dogs to get some exercise and stay cool in the sunshine.
If your dog will be in a swimming pool where the water gets deep, consider investing in a doggy life-vest (especially while your dog is learning to swim, or if your dog is very small or short). And always, whether or not they’re wearing a life-vest, supervise your dog while it's swimming!
Since all dogs love to sniff stuff, put that sensitive sniffer to use by teaching your dog to track by scent! Some dogs, such as bloodhounds, may have natural predispositions for tracking, but all dogs, regardless of breed, can learn to track.
You’ll need just a few things to start tracking:
Tracking can be modified to be an indoor activity as well. Chewy has a great, simple guide for teaching your dog to track by scent: https://be.chewy.com/train-your-dog-to-track-by-scent/,
We all know how simple and effective climbing the stairs can be for an exercise. A few extra trips you didn’t anticipate, and suddenly you’re breathing a little heavier. Well, it’s the same for your dog!
If you can’t leave the house, or don’t have time, then having your dog climb the stairs a few times can be good exercise for them. Involve treats or favorite toys, and your dog might WANT to climb those stairs.
Hide-and-seek can mean a couple different activities. One version is like tracking in the outdoor section: you take your dog somewhere they can’t see you, then hide treats in certain rooms around the house. Then you release your dog and see if they can sniff out the treats!
Another version relies on the “come” command: have your dog sit and stay, then you go hide somewhere around the house. Once you’ve found your hiding spot, you give the “come” command and let them come find you. When they do, give them lots of praise, affection, and maybe even treats!
Canine agility doesn’t have to involve hoops and bars and fancy tunnels - you can make your own agility course inside your house! If you have the space, you can make an indoor agility course to stimulate your dog’s physical and mental capabilities.
You can create obstacles out of any number of household items: chairs, laundry baskets, broom handles, large boxes, hula hoops, flower pots, duct tape, and so much more can become a full-scale obstacle course. For more ideas, visit https://www.k9ofmine.com/diy-dog-agility-courses/
Hey, Nick and Mandy Burnham here. We breed our Golden Retrievers, but we aren’t your usual breeding family. Awareness of unethical puppy mills has increased in recent times, and breeders aren’t accepted. We don’t blame people for calling them out. We call them out as well.