It’s no secret that keeping your dogs active, with regular exercise, is beneficial. From keeping your dog calm and focused, to being fit and healthy. Not only will this be great for them, but you too! Today we’ll be looking at how this benefits you both and how to keep things interesting.

The first and most important factor is understanding the needs and limits of you and your dog. Everyone is different and so is every dog! Any exercise is better than none, even if it’s a short walk every day. If you feel you both have more in you, there are a huge range of activities and sports to consider!

Walking your dog is a great way to build their trust and bond with you and their environment. It’s also known to help reduce bad behaviours in dogs, such as excessive licking, barking, digging and so on. Adult dogs should look to get 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise a day, however it’s very dependent on age, breed, and overall health.

Obesity is the most common health concern for dogs and an important factor in managing this is understanding what an ideal weight is for your dog. A trip to the vet would be a great course of action to make sure your dog is on the right track, or if adjustments need to be made to diet or adding a few minutes to your walks.


Mental Health

A huge and often lesser considered benefit of exercise with your dog is the positive impact to mental health. Much like humans, dogs can get anxious and require social interaction to feel fulfilled. Dogs are also known to release endorphins after exercise, which make them feel happy, which is why a lot of dogs get excited when they know a walk is coming! If you and your dog are up for the challenge, there are a huge number of sports to choose from. Here we will go through some of the different choices, and which breeds they may or may not benefit.



Agility is one of the best forms of exercise and mental stimulation, it’s an ideal sport for high-energy dogs like Australian Shepherds and Border Collies. The best part of this sport it how it can be altered to be more or less intense, depending on the individual needs of the dog. Teamwork is key too, so helps build those important bonds.



The name may be fairly self-explanatory, judging is based on distance and accuracy. This doesn’t need to be done in a competitive sense however, this can be done anytime with your dog, the more open and clear space, the better!

To become a successful, the handler must be able to properly throw a disc, controlling the distance and direction. The dog can then be trained to chase and catch the disc. High-energy dogs like Border Collies and Presa Canarios make excellent disc dogs. However, as with any of the sports on this list, just about any dog can take part, you may just have to alter things to suit the ability of the dog, or yourself!



The sport of flyball is a type of relay race that involves teams of four dogs. One dog from each team runs down a course, jumping hurdles, towards the “flyball box.” The dog steps on a panel and triggers the flyball box to release a tennis ball. The dog then brings the ball back over the hurdles to its handler. Once a dog has completed the course, the next dog is released from the starting line. The first team to have all four dogs complete the course wins. The game is played in several heats.

Flyball is a great way for your dog to enjoy time with other dogs, plus a nice way for you to meet other dog owners. Virtually any healthy dog that loves balls can play this game.



A dogs’ sense of smell is its most dominant sense, so why not turn that into a form of exercise? Tracking is a type of test that requires a dog to follow a scent trail. These events, assess the dog’s natural ability and willingness to follow a scent left by human footsteps. Dogs and their handlers often enjoy this work, and much like other activities on this list, build the relationship between you and your dog.

As well as the physical benefits, mental stimulation is high when tracking, keep your dog focused and engaged. Dogs of all shapes and sizes can partake, however this is more suited to dogs who are more independent and enjoy making their own decisions.



This is a more unusual pick for the list and will be very dependent on a lot of factors. However, we thought it might be worth listing as it may be something you’ve never heard before!

Dock jumping first appeared in 1997 at the Incredible Dog Challenge, an event sponsored and produced by pet food manufacturer Purina. There are now a number of organizations that run dock jumping competitions in different countries.

Another fairly self-explanatory sport title, this involves dogs taking a running jump off a dock and into water. The dog is positioned at one end of the dock, the handler walks to the end of the dock holding the toy, then calls the dog and throws the toy, trying to keep the toy just in front of the dog’s nose so they chase it into the water. The goal is to use this method to get the dog at the optimum launch angle to increase distance by getting him to jump up, instead of just out or flat, as with place and send. The chase method is difficult to master. However, if the dog is toy-driven, he can be trained to follow the toy.



Another unusual pick is Mushing. This is a sport, or transport method, powered by dogs! No doubt you’ve seen this before, it implies the use of one or more dogs to pull a sled, most commonly seen on snow.

The practice of using dogs to pull sleds dates back to at least 6000 BC. Remnants of sleds and harnesses has been found with canine remains in Siberia which carbon-dated to 7800–8000 years ago. Native American cultures also used dogs to pull loads. In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen used sled dogs in a race to become the first person to reach the South Pole. By the time of the First World War, mushing had spread to European countries such as Norway, where dog sleds were used for nature tours, as ambulances in the woodlands and mountains, and to bring supplies to soldiers in the field.

Mushing can be utilitarian, recreational, or competitive. Mushing as a sport is practiced worldwide, but primarily in North America, northern Europe, and the Alps. Racing associations such as the International Federation of Sled dog Sports (IFSS) and the International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA) are working toward organizing the sport and in gaining Olympic recognition for mushing. It is the state sport of Alaska. The most famous sled dog races in the world are:

Although dogsled racing gets more publicity and is seen now as the primary form of mushing, recreational mushing thrives as an unorganized sport providing a healthy outdoor form of winter exercise for families.

Mushing for utilitarian purposes includes anything from hauling wood or delivering milk or the mail to rural travel and equipment hauling. Dogs have been replaced by snowmobiles in many places, but some trappers and other isolated users have gone back to sled dogs, finding them safer and more dependable in extreme weather conditions.



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