Exercise is crucial to your dog’s health, in more ways than you might expect. Even something as basic as walking doesn’t simply manage your dog’s weight, it also helps to reduce hyperactivity and social anxiety as well.
However, just going on walks can be a bit boring for you and your dog. Here’s our list of interesting and challenging exercises that will get your dog moving, thinking, and having fun!
# 1 Agility
Dog agility is a dog sport where you direct your dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. In competitive agility, dogs run off leash without food or toys as incentives, and the you can’t touch the dog or the obstacles. One reason we like it so much is that it doesn’t just work your dog’s muscles, but it works their brain too. Your dog is not only physically tired, but mentally exhausted from figuring out how to tackle all the different obstacles.
Agility is great for dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds. There are indoor and outdoor courses and many of the obstacles are adjustable. At DogBoy’s we do “Fun-gility” where there’s no competition and dogs are free to go at their own pace. However, if you want to take it to the next level, the AKC has registered events and competitions you can compete at.
The best thing about Agility is how it strengthens your bond with your dog. You’ll watch your dog slowly gain confidence and even overcome their fears right in front of you. It’s one of the most rewarding ways to exercise with your dog.
# 2 Flyball
Flyball is a fast paced team sport for dogs that has been around since the 1970’s. There are a series of hurdles that end at a wooden ramp with a hole for a tennis ball that the dog retrieves and then runs back over the hurdles with.
Flyball is great for breeds that suffer from boredom and hyperactivity at home. Breeds like Australian Shepherds and Border Collies, which need a job to avoid restlessness, will benefit a lot from this exercise as they are mentally and physically tired out.
While Flyball may look a bit repetitive to us humans, many dogs absolutely love this. However, Flyball was designed for active dogs that are very ball-driven, and it might not go over well with less motivated dogs. Austin has several Flyball clubs that you can join or ask for more information about competitions.
# 3 Disc Dog
All you need for Disc Dog is yourself, your dog, and a frisbee. Typically held in a large field, owners toss up multiple frisbees and the dogs do tricks to retrieve them. Disc Dog enthusiasts do impressive performances to music for applauding crowds.
Sporting and herding breeds may excel at this sport, but any dog that likes a frisbee can do Disc Dog. There’s no specific breed requirements or recommendations for this sport. Just get your dog into frisbees and they’ll be doing tricks in no time.
A local group, the Flying Disc Dogs of Austin, meets at DogBoy’s a couple Sundays a month to practice on our agility field. You’re welcome to come and watch or get in on the fun yourself! If you have any questions about competitions or training, then I’d highly recommend coming to talk to these disc dog enthusiasts.
# 4 Treibball
Treibball is a positive reinforcement, competitive dog sport which began in Germany. Dogs gather and steer large exercise balls into a soccer goal. As you might guess, this is an excellent exercise for herding breeds. However, it’s also good for dogs that don’t do well in the heat and smaller dogs because it can be held indoors, and the balls are light weight and easy to maneuver.
At DogBoy’s we teach a Treibball class, so if you’re curious about how your dog will handle herding, then feel free to come check it out with us.
# 5 Rally Obedience
Rally Obedience, also known as simply Rally, is and AKC sport that is a cross between an obstacle course and a scavenger hunt. You and your dog go into a field dotted with numbered signs. Each of these signs says “Do this trick”. You direct your dog to perform the trick, and move on to the next one.
I’m still amazed at how quickly dogs learn tricks through Rally. The tricks range from something as simple as “lay down” to precision hoop-jumping. If you join a class or an association they will start you at beginner classes, and slowly work your way up to more difficult tricks and off leash competition.
These exercises can keep your dog out of trouble with health problems and behavior problems that stem from boredom or restlessness. But the best thing about these sports is the opportunities they give you to grow closer with your dog.
If you’re interested in signing up for classes or learning more about these exercises then feel free to contact us to ask questions or set up a date to get exercising at DogBoy’s!
Lookout Dog by William Garret
Flyball Dog by Eye of an Eagle
Disc Dog photo by Megan Vickery