Did you know that April is Active Dog Month? This is a great way to shake off the more sedentary lifestyle that we can get sucked into over the longggg winter months, and get outside to enjoy the warmer spring weather! This year (more than ever) with many people going back to the office (did you see last week’s blog?) it’s a great chance to get back into a more active lifestyle to keep your dog happy and healthy! Here’s our top five tips for how to get back to being active with your pup!
If you’ve been hibernating this winter, we don’t blame you! It can be intimidating to think about getting back to long hikes with your dog…so start short and sweet! Make it a goal to get out for a 10 minute walk every day. You’ll find in no time at all that this becomes easy for you and your dog alike! When you’re up for the challenge, start increasing the length of your walks, or your speed, or try incorporating some small inclines.
Variety is the Spice of Life!
Change up your routine! This can be as simple as walking a different route than normal. It can be difficult during the work week to find time for an adventure, but with the spring weather here and the daylight lasting longer, a trip to a new trail, park, or conservation area can be a great weekend trip! Even if you’re more comfortable staying somewhere tried and true, you can change up the pace and type of walk you take. Consider a “sniffari” instead of a structured walk - let your dog sniff as much as they would like on your walk. Don’t put a timeline on your walk, and go at the pace that your dog would like.
Friends Make Things More Fun
Another way to switch up your walking routine is to organize a pack walk. This is a great way to get social time in for both you and your pup. It can be fun to go on a more challenging hike together too, just make sure that you properly prepare for your walk. Work up to longer walks and higher elevation slowly to make sure neither you or your dog are overexerting yourselves as this can lead to injury. If your dog struggles with reactivity, this doesn’t mean they can’t do pack walks too! Start with just one friend, and keep it shorter.
Make Time for Play
Walks are not the only way to increase your dog’s activity levels! This can be a great way to get your daily exercise in if the weather is less than ideal, or if you just want to try something new. Work active play into your schedule, such as playing fetch. If your dog isn’t into fetch, you can play a good old-fashioned game of chase. You can set up an obstacle course, which you can do either inside or out.
Exercise Their Brain, Too!
Don’t forget to work your dog’s brain muscles also! Enrichment helps keep your dog content and fulfilled. A great option that combines both physical and mental exercise is nose work. You can start with the most basic game that encourages your pup to use their nose - scatter some freeze-dried bites or treats in the grass and let them scout! If you’re looking to progress into nose work, start with a high value treat or toy - you want it to be enticing enough for your dog to want to search for it. Most dogs find it easier to begin nose or scent work inside as it is less distracting, so this is a great rainy day game to play. Have your dog sit and stay while you walk across the room and place the treat or toy and give your dog a specific command you’ll use for nose work - “find it” works well! Once your pup has this down, start placing the treat or toy outside of their sight line to make it more difficult. Then graduate to another room, then further around the house. All of these steps will take time, but with patience and consistency you’ll be able to graduate to more difficult hiding places! A smelly treat will be easiest on your dog, and dragging it to leave a scent trail can help too. While they are learning, they may need help finding your hiding place, and that’s ok! Make it fun, and don’t forget to reward them like crazy when they find it!
There are so many ways that you can get active with your dog this month! This list is only the beginning, and we would love to know what you’re doing to participate in Active Dog Month! Tag us on instagram @healthybudco!
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
-The healthybud team