By Sharon Elber |Published May 4, 2019
Small dogs love the outdoors! New smells and fresh air keep life interesting! And, although they tend to need less exercise than their large dog cousins, they still need to stay active to enjoy a long and healthy life.
This summer, make a commitment to your little dog’s health and your own by finding a way to enjoy the warm weather together. Not sure where to start? Here are a few easy and fun ways to get fit with your small dog and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time.
Everyone has some extra stuff lying around the garage to build a fun obstacle course for your dog. A bucket with a hole in it, some leftover lumber from a fall project, a ball of rope, a holey tarp. These are all excellent materials to construct a canine obstacle course that will keep you busy all summer.
Not only will it get you off the couch, but it will also get your creative juices flowing! If you need some inspiration, check out the many agility course obstacles to see jumps, weave poles, tunnels, see-saws, and other fun ways to get your dog’s mind and body working overtime.
Make sure to take the time to train each obstacle patiently, using lots of praise and small food rewards such as small bits of cooked chicken or even frozen peas!
Once your little dog has the obstacle down, put it on command, and start slowly increasing your distance from the obstacle until they can surmount it while you are as far as 10 feet away.
Now you are ready for the next challenge! String obstacles together, and now you have an obstacle course. Change the order every now and then to keep it fun and interesting.
Although several organized dog sports welcome little dogs, there are few that make our shorties the star of the team. Flyball, however, does. Here’s how it works: Four dogs compete in a relay race in head to head matches that include 4 jumps and a ball on a spring-loaded box.
Sure, as you might imagine, there are more than a few of the usual suspects involved: Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, you get the picture.
However, one of the unique features of Flyball is that the height of the jumps is set to the shortest dog on each team, known as the “height dog.”
Sure. You can play fetch from a lawn chair or even go so far as to buy an automatic dog ball launcher like the ones featured here, to toss the ball for you.
But where’s the fun in that? Why not take your dog’s love of the game to a new level that also challenges you to enjoy the summer weather on your feet?
Three Way Fetch is a twist on the standard game of fetch that includes 2 (or more) people, your pint-sized pet’s favorite ball or throwing disk, and a touch of Monkey in the Middle.
The key to making this game work is to make sure that your furry little friend gets a turn too, and not just when the catcher misses (although “accidentally” missing every so often will keep your pooch engaged in each toss).
Make sure to reward a great fetch with praise and/or a small piece of food and keep her guessing as to who will be throwing for her next.
If you live in a city or large town, you may be lucky enough to have a public pool that hosts a few “dog days” each summer where the doors open just for our furry friends to take a refreshing dip. If not, local lakes and streams are a possibility.
Before you dive in, you may want to make sure your pup has the right gear. In fact, not all little dogs are great swimmers, and many benefit from floating life vests that help keep them buoyant enough to enjoy a cool dip.
It’s a myth that only the big dogs make great hiking companions. With the right planning and gear, your small dog can make for a great partner on the trails!
Before you set out on your adventure, just make sure you start with some easy trails. Most state and national parks use a rating system to help you figure out the best trails for your fitness level. And, be sure to pack fresh water and a dish, so your dog stays well hydrated on your trip.
5 Ways to Get Moving With Your Little Dog
Author Bio: Sharon Elber is a professional writer and received her M.S. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.