5 Fun Ways to Get Moving with Your Little Dog this Summer

By Sharon Elber   |Last Updated 06-23-2022

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.

Small White Shih Tzu is running towards the camera

Fun Ways to Get Moving with Your Little Dog

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.

Backyard Obstacle Course

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.

A small spaniel is participating in an agility jumpOne of the many ways to get moving with your small dog is to participate in agility.


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.”

If you have a fast little Jack Russel, Staffie, or Rat Terrier (or mutt for that matter) who can’t get enough of that ball, then your local Flyball club will pull out the red carpet for you!

More Ways to Get Moving With Your Little Dog:  Play Three Way Fetch

Sure. You can play fetch from a lawn chair or even go so far as to buy an automatic dog ball launcher. 

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.

A West Highland White Terrier is about to catch a ball in his mouth.Playing a fast game of three-way fetch is just another of the many ways to get moving with your little dog.

Go for a Dip

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.

A small dog is swimming in a lake.Other ways to get moving with your little dog is to take him swimming.

Hiking and Camping

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.

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About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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