Dogs love to exercise but sometimes doing the same exercise daily can be become boring for their mind and body (hint: this is also true for humans and exercise). While most dogs do need at least one walk per day, you can add in other types of exercises that can take as little as five minutes or you can substitute the walk with something equally active like an agility class. Whatever you decide to do, switching up your dog’s exercise routine will keep them interested and in shape.

Here are some exercise options that your dog is bound to love:

Agility Course. Find a group or class that offers an agility course. This is best for high-energy dogs as they will get plenty of jumping and running in, plus they will develop confidence and new skills.

Fetch. One of the oldest dog games can be played virtually anywhere – in your backyard, at a park or in your living room. Fetch can be a quick 5-minute game or played for an hour or longer (Bonus: race your dog to the ball or stick to get in some exercise for yourself.)

Dog Playdate. Meet up with some of your dog’s buddies at a local dog park and let them play their energy out. Not only is it fun for the dogs, it’s also fun to watch how differently dogs interact with each other than with their human companions.

Tug-of-War. A rope, an old pair of jeans tied into knots, or a stick can make for an easy impromptu tug-of-war game for you and your dog.

Swimming. If your dog loves the water – a lake, ocean, pool – take your dog out for a swim. This exercise is especially great for elder dogs as it enables them to get their exercise in without compromising their joints. It also improves circulation and boosts metabolism.

Treadmill. If you have a treadmill at home, you may be able to train your dog to use it. Start very slow and keep your eye on them. Eventually they may be able to get a good walk/run on it!

Obstacle Course. Set up an obstacle course in your home – using chairs, small tables, step stools, etc., There are many videos online that will give you creative ideas.

Don’t forget that dogs need to be mentally stimulated too. Here are some ideas that you can do daily to keep them entertained and to keep their brain sharp: give them puzzle toys to play with, feed them a meal from a treat-dispensing toy instead of a bowl, and/or teach them commands and tricks (and keep practicing with them).

Have fun as you explore new ways to keep your dog active and mentally stimulated. The result will be a happier, healthier dog who hopefully lives a long, full life by your side.

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