Activities for Dogs and Families to Share

Get your daily physical activity and make sure your pet does too!

dog agility
JRWPhotography / Moment Open / Getty Images

Need a little inspiration to be more active? Look no further than your faithful canine companion. Dogs love your attention and they love to play. And there are lots of activities for dogs that are fun for you and your family to share, and get you up and moving too. Sufficient exercise helps dogs stay healthy, happy, and well-behaved, too, so everyone benefits.

Obviously, you'll need to take your pet's health and temperament into consideration; not every activity is right for every dog.

Check with your vet or a trainer you trust if you have any questions or concerns about your dog's participation. Then give some of these activities and games a go. If you don't have a dog, you can volunteer at a shelter or rescue organization and help exercise the dogs.

Walks, hikes, and runs: Dogs are great for getting you out the door for a walk no matter what. You'll be outside every single morning, no matter the weather! And some pets can go much farther than a simple stroll around the block. If your dog is an active breed and in good health, he can accompany your family on longer walks and hikes or go running with you. Some 5K or 10K races even allow your dog to participate alongside you.

You can also add a little extra fitness to your regular walks. Fit in lunges, jogging intervals, squats, and so on during your dog's sniff breaks. Or toss him a ball, then drop to the ground for a few crunches while he retrieves it.

Playing fetch: Teach your dog to fetch, and you and your kids can get a pretty nice arm workout just from throwing the ball or Frisbee to your pup. Visit a large park or field where your dog can go off-leash so you can throw longer distances. It's a better workout for all of you! If you and your dog really love the Frisbee, you can get involved in "disc dog" competitions.

Or there's flyball, a team sport for dogs. Participants take turns jumping a series of hurdles, retrieving a ball, and running back over the jumps to return the ball to the start line.

Agility training: In this competitive sport, you'll train your dog to run a course with a series of obstacles, like hurdles and ramps. Your dog will need lots of practice, so you'll spend plenty of active time together as you put him through his paces. (You'll also need a healthy dose of patience—this is a challenging sport.)

Fitness classes: Yes, you and your pet can enroll in a fitness class together! Boot camp-style workouts for dogs and their humans are available in some cities. Check out Leash Your Fitness and Thank Dog Bootcamp. You can even try doggie yoga, if that's more your style.

Dance together: You can do this for fun, or you can actually work together to put on a show and compete—that's called canine freestyle, and it's a musical performance for a dog-and-handler team.

Breed-specific activities: Different types of dogs have been bred over generations to specialize in tasks like herding sheep, retrieving game, tracking scents, or pulling sleds.

If your dog belongs to one of these breeds, you and she can train together to compete in these skills against other dogs.

Continue Reading