Fitness for City Pets
Living in a busy, cramped city doesn’t mean your options for dog-friendly activities are limited. Parks and large yards are definitely convenient for easy-access daily exercise, but even without these there are tons of other great ways to stay active with your dog. Even when you have a park nearby, there are always excuses for not getting out of the house - rain, snow and other such factors that dissuade you from getting outside with your dog. Here are a few other ideas to consider.
Hire a Dog Walker
In my city settings dog walkers are abundantly available. You can either find them being dragged behind multiple dog leashes or you might notice their friendly ads on phone polls in your neighbourhood. These dog walkers are especially helpful if you work long hours or if for some reason you can’t get home during the day. Hiring a dog walker or even just having their number on hand is a really great solution for making sure your dog’s need for physical activity isn’t neglected when you can’t be there for them. Keep in mind though, your dog will need to be accustomed to playing nice with other dogs. Most dog walkers will mention what types of behaviour are difficult to work with or ask what experience your dog has with other animals.
Community Parks, Walking and Cycling Paths
Hopefully, you are able to make time for one-on-one activities with your dog. Municipal paths are a great place to join other walkers and cyclists for quality walking and running time with your pup. You could even consider training your dog to run alongside you. There are special leash hooks you can buy that prevent leashes from getting stuck in the wheels.
If you’re lucky to live in an urban area that has been well planned out, you might find a community park that provides dog owners with a space to exercise their dogs. Dogs and owners alike can socializing in these spaces, which is another great perk to getting out of the house to be active with your dog. Keep in mind, these spaces often have rules you may need to review before entering. Many parks require basic social training and sometimes even proof of vaccinations.
Doggie Day Care, Pup Pampering, Fitness Centres and Spas
The objective of a Doggie Day Care is to provide a service and space where their ‘clients’ get exercised and socialized. Daily exercise and social time is important for dogs so consider treating your pet to a day at the spa or at a care centre where their exercise and attention quotas can get replenished. Many of these centres offer free pickup and return trips making it very easy to fit your dog’s needs into your busy schedule. Inquire about your local care centres offerings as they might also provide grooming, administration of medicine and indoor exercise activities on bad weather days.
Do take the time to go on tours to see these types of facilities before sending your dog to spend a whole day. Your dog’s health and welfare are important factors to consider so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you may have.
Low Impact Swimming
Like humans, dogs can also benefit from low-impact exercise to lessen intensity on muscles, joints and ligaments. Dogs can also suffer from arthritis or from injuries and exercises like swimming can really help as a form of physical therapy for recovery.
Since big cities are home to many dog owners, there are often programs available for dogs since there is high demand. Your local community centre may host dog events and you might even find a ‘dog day’ event at the community pool. Unfortunately these activities aren’t made for dogs and their owners to swim together, due to the possibility of transmissible disease, but instead they encourage dogs to swim and play in the water with their owners standing to the side encouraging them.
Getting outdoors is a great activity to share with your dog and very important to practice regularly, but you always have the option to exercise at home. Since physical activity is necessary on a weekly basis, you may need to consider exercising at home when the weather isn’t cooperating or even if you simply just don’t feel like leaving the house. If you have a treadmill it is possible to train your dog to use it with you. Set the treadmill at a walking pace your dog is used and make eye contact with them while encouraging them to walk alongside. Not all dogs love treadmills but if your dog does, they’ll become accustomed to this type of exercise and may eventually join you without any coaxing.
Condo buildings provide one of the best forms of free exercise - stairs! Working your way up a number of flights and back down with your dog at your side provide a great workout for the both of you. Remember to stick to a pace that is good for the both of you and always start off slow to avoid overexertion.
Many city dwellers live busy lives and aren’t privy to large outdoor spaces like suburb or country residents. That’s why it’s all the more important to get creative and make time to exercise your dog. Your local veterinarian, dog trainer or your groomer may be able to recommend resources and programs available in your area.