Unlike many of us, our dogs can’t wait to work out—go for a run, sprint up and down the stairs, or just chase their tails. They know it’s fun, and we know it keeps them healthy, burns calories, and increases muscle tone. But daily exercise plays a role in their emotional well-being (read: sanity) too. “In addition to basic obedience and good nutrition, exercise is a very important part of the happy-dog equation,” says Los Angeles–based holistic dog behaviorist David Reinecker, who creates custom fitness programs for dogs, especially those suffering from separation anxiety and exhibiting aggressive behavior. Some tips to tucker out your pooch without draining your energy:
• Network with neighbors and take turns walking one another’s dogs. Or plan a play date so the pooches can romp together in a fenced backyard.
• Take him for a splash in a nearby lake or reservoir. For smaller breeds, fill a kiddie pool or hook up a sprinkler.
• Get creative indoors. Play hide and seek (you hide, Fido seeks), or hide his favorite toys around the house.
• Book a spot in doggie daycare. Reinecker suggests finding one with a “calm, clean energy.”
• Sign up for agility training, but don’t pressure your dog to continue if he doesn’t seem to enjoy it.
• Lace up your running shoes and hit the trails. Avoid concrete and asphalt, and if your pooch is still a pup, only jog short distances.
• Increase fetching distances by hitting a tennis ball with a racquet or tossing a Frisbee.
• Keep practicing all the tricks he learned in obedience class. Reinecker’s favorite is the doggie sit-up—a series of “sit” and “down” commands.