Both training and exercise are extremely important for your dog. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do both at the same time? The great news is that you can! Here are seven different training exercises that also double as exercises and/or ways to enhance your dog’s health!
1. Jump Poles. Jumping poles takes time and practice but can be fun and very rewarding for your dog, both mentally and physically. Your dog will learn a new trick, while also improving muscle tone, strength, heart-health, speed, endurance, and agility. When using store-bought or homemade jumping poles, always make sure the pole can be knocked down easily, just in case your pup doesn’t quite reach the mark.
2. Make Your Dog Work For Treats/Food! Hiding your dog’s treats around the house or purchasing a treat ball (or other toy that your dog must work at to receive their treat) is a great way to make your dog hone their smelling skills. If you can make an obstacle course out of it, your dog will enhance not only their sense of smell, but also their agility, flexibility, speed, and concentration. It is the perfect way to train your dog to find lost/hidden items, as well as giving them a chance to work out and play.
3. Weave Poles. Weave poles can be fun for both a dog and their human. You can either buy weave poles, or you can also use PVC pipe in the ground. Start out with the poles farther apart and work your way to smaller gaps. You might consider wrapping the poles in a foam material, just in case your pup misjudges where the pole is, but it is a great way to train your dog, have fun, bond, and get plenty of exercise.
4. Treadmill. Teaching your dog to use a treadmill may sound simple, and for some dogs it is, but for most, this is definitely a trust-builder, a bonding experience, and a few training sessions. Working out on a treadmill is a great tool for when your pup needs exercise, but you can’t go outside. Getting your dog use to the treadmill may prove difficult at first, but with coaxing and treats, you will soon have your dog running in no time. Remember, you can use a leash if it helps, but NEVER tie your dog to a treadmill. If he/she slips, it could become fatal for your four-legged friend.
5. Hide-and-seek. Hide-and-seek can be hours of fun. It is loads of fun to hide a treat, but it’s even better when you make them come find you. This is also great because it reinforces the idea of coming to their owner. It’s a wonderful way to get your dog up and moving. It is also very mentally stimulating, which is another exercise all on its own. In order to get your dog to find you, throw a treat away from yourself, and then go quickly hide. Your dog may not find missing persons (or they might) but either way it is a great training exercise for your pooch.
6. Practice targeting. Teaching your dog to touch her nose to your hand, leg, or other area is a great way to mentally engage your dog, as well as a great tool for exercise, bonding, and safety. Teaching a dog to target could save its life. If they become distracted by something or wish to engage another dog, a target command could save you a lot of hassle and possibly heartache in the end.
7. Fetch. Fetch may seem to be your dog’s favorite outside pastime, and simply a playing exercise rather than a training exercise; however, fetch can be a great tool to teach your dog commands such as “pick up,” “bring it,” and “drop it.” Fetch is really just a disguise for slipping in loads of new commands. You can even practice “leave it” and then “get it” with your dog. It is both mentally and physically invigorating and allows a dog's owner to sneak in extra lessons while having fun.