It may be cold out there, but the start of the new year is a great time to explore some fresh and energetic activities with your dog. The aim is to help keep him fit and in great shape (in case he’s piled on a few Christmas pounds!), while honing his natural talents. Kim Sullivan highlights five of the best activities to try out.
Need for speed
Put your dog to the Agility test, combining a fantastic workout with his innate intelligence to negotiate a challenging obstacle course. Each round of Agility is short and fast-paced, and several attempts will leave your dog energised and stimulated. It’s suited to all breeds, but herding dogs just love it. See agilitynet.co.uk for more.
Try Flyball, a high-energy, high-speed competitive sport, ideal for all ball-loving dogs. Two teams of handlers race their dogs against each other in parallel racing lanes, jumping over hurdles and retrieving a ball, which each dog has to bring back to the starting line before the next dog is off. For more information, visit flyball.org.uk
Take the plunge!
Swimming is a highly effective form of exercise for your dog, and 20 minutes in the water is equivalent to one hour’s ordinary exercise. During the winter you will need to go to a warm hydro-pool – you may be able to take a dip with him, too! In summer, Newfound Friends (newfoundfriends.co.uk) puts Newfoundlands’ natural talents to the test with amazing water rescue activities.
Spice up your daily walks
Introduce some new and stimulating highlights to your daily walks to get your dog on the move, recommends Paula Wilson of the Association of Professional Dog Walkers. Take a Frisbee, or play tug of war with a tough piece of rope so your dog can have a strenuous tug. For more sociable events to raise your dog’s heartbeat, ask your vet for details of local dog-walking groups and charity fun dog days.
Fancy keeping in shape with your dog? Your hound could be your ideal fitness buddy in Canicross running – cross-country running with your dog. All you need is a Canicross dog harness, and a special belt to wear around your waist to prevent jolting. You can start at 1-2km, building up to 5km. Winter is the perfect time to try it, as dogs risk overheating in summer. For details of sessions country-wide, see canix.co.uk
Before trying out a new type of exercise, or if your pooch is returning to exercise after a little while off, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet first to avoid any risk of injury.