Sit, Stay, Hike! 6 Playful Ways to Exercise Your Pup This Year

Now that 2015 is here, it’s time to get serious about new goals and challenges. One of those might be that you and your dog need to shape up and get fit. Even smushy-faced pups who consider themselves master couch potatoes need to get their blood pumping—and there are tons of fun ways to get them up and moving. Besides, that comfortable sofa and lazy days are always going to be there. Why not earn them by working your tail off with these awesome workouts?

1: Explore the wilderness.

By simply Googling “hiking spot,” you’ll always find nature to experience nearby. The benefits of hiking are tremendous for you and your dog. All canines have natural instincts to run, dig, and hunt, so getting out in the mountains caters to those tendencies. Especially if you have a high-energy working breed, a hike exerts any pent-up energy and leaves your pooch happier. A happy dog means a happy life!

2: Splash around!

Especially on hot summer days, getting out in the water feels like a dream come true for humans and canines alike. Your dog will be pleased to paddle around and work out his legs, even if they are adorably stumpy. That’s what life jackets are for, after all! There are pools all around that offer doggy hours, and for those of you who live by the coast, there’s bound to be a dog-friendly beach, too!

3: Jump through hoops.

If you’ve always seen superstar potential in your dog, an agility course is a great way to test that. Once your pup has mastered the simple commands like sit, stay, and heel, you can take him to agility classes—or build your own course. Whether you create weaving poles out of PVC pipes or buy a children’s play tunnel for your dog to zip through, there are plenty of ways to DIY.

4: Exercise that nose.

If you want to train your pup to track, most experts suggest starting at an early age. The idea is simple—while a friend holds onto him, hide a few feet away and reward him with treats when he finds you. Keep challenging him with greater and greater distances and eventually, let your pup use his nose to find you! If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can play indoors, using different toys and treats to get Fido’s brain cranking. You’ll find yourself having a great time playing an old childhood favorite.

5: Hit the Treadmill

Admit it—you saw Munchkin do it, and then the Internet broke. Now you want to train your to do the same, minus the teddy bear costume. Or perhaps you can whip up an even better costume and your dog can reign over all treadmill pets. If you don’t have time to go outside every day or you’re snowed in, a treadmill provides the perfect outlet for your dog to burn some calories. Check out this awesome tutorial about how to get your pup started on his treadmill training!

6: Loosen up and dance.

If you love having dance parties at home with your dog, he’s already halfway into musical freestyling. Canine musical freestyling has become a popular hobby for humans and dogs who have a knack for grooving to the beat. There’s even a national organization called the Musical Dog Sport Association (MDSA), which introduces beginners to tons of resources that will help them get started with this fascinating sport! You’d be surprised to know that dogs can be trained to keep rhythm and breathe in the same patterns as their human partner. You may have trouble finding a group class in your town (depending on where you live) since this is still such a new, niche workout. But there are meetups between canine freestylers and their owners all over—check the site to see if you can find one near you!

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Written by Caroline Park 

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