Now that summer has finally wound down, and everyone starts to begin donning our fall coats, the thought of being outdoors and exercising might not sound as appealing as it used to. Just as we all tend to become more sedentary in the winter, so do our pets. This is when the pounds start to be packed on. Pet obesity is a huge concern for Toronto’s urban pet population, and getting an animal to lose weight can be more challenging than maintaining your own. Indoor cats are especially of concern, as their activity levels tend to stay relatively constant throughout the year. Here are some helpful ideas to get you and your pet stimulated, moving, and having fun!
“High and low”: For dogs, use treats to have them go from a lying down position by placing the treat near the floor, then lift the treat high in the air to get your pooch to jump up for it. Repeat this three to five times for every treat. For cats, place treats such as tuna on tables or chairs that they can jump up onto, and then move the treats down onto the floor, and repeat.
“Hide and Seek/Find the Food”: With your dog or cat watching, hide their toys in various places. This works especially well if the toy can harbor treats in it in any way. While you are away, they will spend most of their days seeking out these toys. Some animals will need guidance at first. Rewarding their search efforts with tasty treats will drive them further to search out these toys.
“Follow the leader”: Call your pet over with their favourite toy, taking them on a little tour of your house at varying speeds.
“Obstacle course”: Use drawers, boxes, and other sturdy objects to make an obstacle course. Set it up so your animal has to jump, crawl and run!
“Remote controlled toys and lasers”: Dogs and cats alike love interactive toys. There are a wealth of toys designed to be safe for animals to play with unattended.
“Fetch!”: A total classic.
“Come and get it”: A game of initiating a chase between you and your dog.
“Obstacle course”: Like the obstacle course game up above, you can buy and set up legitimate training material that dogs use in agility courses. There is a huge variety of different props you can buy, something for every dog!
“Hill and Stair Climbing”: Finding a nice steep hill in a park and running up and down them a few times is a great way to get your dog (and your own) heart pumping! Similarly, doing a few sessions of stair climbing will yield similar results. Personally, enjoying some fresh air and scenic views while sweating up a storm sounds more appealing than stair-climbing.
“Swimming”: While this post is either a bit too late or highly pre-mature, but swimming is an ideal form of exercise. It’s fun, it works out the entire body, it’s easy on arthritic dog joints and it can easily be combined with other exercise-inducing games, like fetch.
Most of all, have fun! Spending time with your animal and leading a healthier lifestyle should be something we all look forward to.
Be sure to stay tuned for fun Hallowe’en ideas for you and your pet. Happy exercising!