What are the best workouts for you and your dog?
Want to get some exercise with your pet? When you play sports or work out with your dog, it helps both your well-being and your dog’s – all of which helps to strengthen the bond between you. It’s also a fun way to improve your four-legged friend’s training as well, so learn which sports you can play with your dog, as well as the precautions you should take!
Six sports to play with your dog
- Agility, the most popular sport of all
This educational and physical game is aimed at all dogs and all dog owners, whether or not they consider themselves athletic. The principle is straightforward: your dog needs to complete an obstacle course within a time limit, guided only by your instructions.
This activity promotes a close bond between dog and owner while at the same time improving your dog’s skills and obedience. Some accessories (an agility tire, a slalom, and a ramp) will help make it easier to train together at home. This canine sport is also taught at a number of different clubs and is a great way to meet other dog owners to share your experiences.
- Canicross, physical activity that you can share
Canicross involves running with your dog, who is attached to you by a belt. Your dog gradually learns to pull you over medium-to-long distances. Canicross can be broken down into CaniCross MTB, CaniCross running, CaniCross hiking, and mushing or sledding (for some breeds such as huskies). You can learn more on the website of our partner, Jean-Philippe Pontier. Canicross allows you to engage in physical activity in tandem with your dog while exploring nature at the same time.
Canicross can be a competitive or a leisure activity. To get started, you will need a belt that is specifically designed for canicross and suitable for your pet’s strength, as well as a leash and a harness. Gradually get your pet used to playing the sport, starting with short distances that you gradually increase.
- Rhythmic obedience: ideal for music lovers!
This discipline combines athleticism with a musical show. You’ll teach your dog to follow specific choreography to your choice of music, which you will then perform together in front of a panel of judges.
The aim is to work on your pet’s observational abilities (following your instructions to perform the choreography), as well as its rhythm, its obedience skills, and your creativity! This activity can also be enjoyed as a member of a club.
- Other sports that can be enjoyed with your dog
Do you practice yoga? Why not try doga? The aim is not to teach your dog how to adopt a relaxation pose, but rather to practice your stretching in the company of your pet. Although it is little known in Europe, it is more widespread in the USA.
Frisbee is another fun sport that is ideally suited to dogs, particularly those that like to fetch things. Get a soft Frisbee that is designed specifically for dogs, and gradually increase the distances involved!
Flyball is an obstacle course that features hurdles to improve your pet’s speed. After completing the course, your dog has to retrieve a ball and bring it back to you. You can acquire your own kit and play sport together at home
Precautions to take before playing sports with your dog
There are no real reasons to avoid engaging in sports with your dog. Before you start:
- You should select the activity or activities that reflect your personal preferences as well as your dog’s breed and character;
- Depending on your dog’s size, age, and state of health, different dogs’ sporting abilities will differ wildly.
Your pet needs to be in good physical shape, and particularly so for canicross. Up until the age of one year (or even eighteen months for larger breeds), dog’s joints are fragile, and therefore some patience is needed. If your dog is old, sick, or pregnant, do not engage in active sport.
Set up an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure that your four-legged friend is in good health and fit enough to engage in your preferred discipline. Also ensure that your dog is fully trained and has a sociable nature. Your dog should be chipped for identification purposes, and up to date with vaccinations and worming, especially if you will be training with other dogs and/or humans.