As summer shows hints of the cooler season to come, it’s the perfect time to play fetch with your dog! Fetch is great for exercise and for releasing your dog’s pent-up energy. Your dog might be a natural, or he might need some practice to grasp the game. Make fetch a part of your playtime repertoire with these tips from WebMD Pets and the American Kennel Club.
- Start small, with quick indoor games of fetch. When you first take the game outside, choose a time when there aren’t other dogs or people around to minimize distractions.
- Try modifying a tug-of-war game. After a short game of tug, toss the toy a few inches away so that your dog runs to it, then grab the toy and start another game. Throw it farther away each time. Tug on the toy when it’s in your dog’s mouth to encourage him to come back to you. This should eventually evolve into a fetch-like game. (Read more here.)
- Or, try a treat-based approach for dogs reluctant to fetch. First, place the toy on the ground. When your dog looks at it, utilize clicker training and reward your dog with a treat. Continue to reward your dog with each interaction until he associates the two. Next, step up your game! Save rewards for when your dog sniffs the toy, puts his mouth on it, or picks it up. After your dog is reliably picking up the toy, encourage him to bring it back to you and reward him when he does. (Read more here.)
- If your dog will chase a Frisbee, choose one specifically made for dogs so it won’t chip his chompers. Throw it lower to the ground so your dog isn’t jumping high into the air and risking injury.
- End the fetch game while your dog still wants to play and isn’t bored.
As the warmer weather rolls in, you want to get outside and enjoy it. Of course, you love taking Fido with you! Just remember that while you can shed the layers of clothing you’ve bundled up in all winter, your dog doesn’t have that same advantage. Here are some tips from the ASPCA for exercising with your pet under a summer sun:
• Keep a close eye on your canine companion. If your pet seems tired and doesn’t want to continue exercising, don’t force her, and make sure she gets plenty of fresh, clean water.
• Watch for symptoms of overheating. Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat, and they’re much closer to the hot pavement. If your pet is panting more than usual or having difficulty breathing, let him rest in the shade for a while.
• Stay indoors during the heat of the day. Exercise during the cooler times of the day for your dog’s comfort, such as around dawn, dusk, or in the evening.
• Swimming unsupervised isn’t safe. Not all pups can swim, so don’t leave your pet unattended around large bodies of water. If you’re out on a boat or in a deep pool, get her a life vest to ensure her safety.
• A dog’s fur helps regulate body temperature. Even if your dog has long hair, don’t just shave it off. His fur coat has layers to it, and removing them makes it more difficult for him to stay cool during the hot days and could lead to a painful sunburn.
The seasons are changing, the temperature is spiking, and your pet can’t wait to get outside and soak it all in. Challenge yourself to join your pet in the great outdoors with Move More Month!
During the month of April, the American Heart Association challenges people to exercise more throughout the day. What better way to inspire motivation than by including your pet? Begin a morning or evening routine of walking your dog or playing with your cat. If you keep the time consistent from day to day, your pet will always remind you to get up and move.
Here are a few other ways to motivate yourself to exercise more:
➢ Open windows and let in that fresh spring breeze
➢ Prop a toy near your key or purse repository
➢ Hang a dog leash rack next to the front door
➢ Schedule pet playdates and exercise in your calendar
➢ Find an accountability partner by inviting friends and family to join