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Dogs, just like their human companions and owners, love to have the chance to get out and see and do new things all the time. Since this is part of ongoing socialization combining exercise, which all dogs need, with new activities is a great way to provide both mental and physical stimulation.
It is important for dog owners to keep in mind that any type of training or exercise routine can get boring over time. Switching routines or alternating between different types of exercise can really help to decrease the predictability factor and can add enthusiasm to that same old walk, jog or hike.One of the great things about dogs is that they will usually be relatively happily go along with whatever the owner wants, provided they are up to the task. Whenever you are switching types of exercise it is important to keep a close eye on your dogs physical and emotional response to the change. Any signs of anxiety or stress need to be immediately addressed and the dog more gradually introduced to the new activity.
Not all dogs like the same kind of exercise either, so if you have more than one dog in the household you may wish to consider choosing dogs of similar traits so exercising them together will be less of a challenge. A good example of this is choosing two or more high energy breeds such as a Jack Russell or a Border Collie as companions. If you have one lower energy dog such as a Bassett Hound you wouldn't expect them to be necessarily as excited about running about and chasing squirrels as the Jack Russell. However, it is also critical to keep in mind that not all dogs of the same breed are identical with regards to how much and what type of exercise they enjoy. Each dog will be very much an individual, but general breed or group traits will be evident.
Group or breed traits are often most predominant in hunting or sporting dogs and working and herding dogs. A Corgi or a Border Collie will naturally herd whatever they can find while a Labrador or a Golden Retriever will happily fetch anything that you throw as a general rule. Sometimes a Border Collie will be interested in retrieving, but usually this is not their normal natural trait. In return some Labradors can learn to herd, however they will not have the natural tendency that the Corgi does.
Basic ExerciseAll dogs need to have routine, regular exercise times. At the very least this should include a brisk walk of at least twenty minutes to a half an hour two or more times per day. If you have a puppy, a dog that has mobility problems or a dog that is recovering from a health concern you may have to adjust this based on your dog's physical ability.
In addition to walking most dogs love to actually get out and stretch their legs with a good run. Even toy and small breeds that will self-exercise in the house and run from room to room still seem to really enjoy getting outdoors. Instead of just letting the dog run in the backyard, why not take them to a designated dog park that is securely fenced and allow them to romp and play with other dogs. Before you do this make sure they are fully socialized and you have a good handle on obedience training.
If you aren't too keen on having your dog in with a bunch of other dogs, what about inviting a friend and his or her dog over for playtime. This is sure to get your dog moving about and socializing with another pet, plus you can easily monitor and control the situation. This can also help with exercising a dog for an owner that cannot engage in other types of exercise due to health reasons or really stressful schedules. Allowing 30 minutes of activity time with another dog is a wonderful way to provide activity that you dog is sure to look forward to.
Beyond The BasicsIf you want to get really creative think about all the different types of activities that you enjoy doing and how you could safely incorporate your dog into these events. If you love jogging, taking your dog with you can be a good exercise option, but so can swimming if you have access to an outdoor pool or lake where the dog could safely swim. Even if you don't like to swim your dog may really love to play fetch in the lake, at the beach or in a small stream, just make sure that dogs are allowed in the area off leash and that your dog is a good swimmer. Never let your dog swim in areas where there is a current or an undertow as that can be very dangerous for your pet.
Frisbee games are popular with many types of dogs as a modification of fetch. Again some breeds are more interested in this type of activity than others, but it is certainly something that is fun and entertaining for both the owner and the dog. Dogs can also be involved in games of tag or even hide and seek, they just need to be calm enough to not get carried away with the game.
Playing games such as tug a war or other physical strength testing games can also be great for some dogs, however if the breed tends to be dominant or possessive these games should be avoided. They are likely to cause more behavior problems and can lead to reinforcing of some or all of the more negative behaviors.
Of course entering your dog into any type of training or competitive event is great to increase their activity level. Often dogs that are naturals at herding, scenting, agility or obedience make great dogs for competitions, even in local fun events. If you don't want to compete with your dog or it is not of interest to you, there may be someone in your family that would like to, you may just have to make the suggestion.
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