(PET CARE/DOGS) Not only can introducing your dog to different forms of exercise help minimize their risk of joint pain later in life, but it can also help him/her get the most out of their active doggy lifestyles. Read on for more information and check out these great new ideas for exercising with your pet. — Global Animal

An active lifestyle is extremely important, but can also impact dogs’ joints. Photo Credit: surfneng via Flickr

At times it may seem as if your dog has boundless energy, racing around the garden, playing with other dogs while out walking, or chasing sticks for hours on end. While an active lifestyle is important for your dog’s health and well-being, the constant running and jumping can impact on his joints.

Minimize joint pain

Much like people, dogs—and other animals—are at risk of joint pain and arthritis later in life. This can be caused by general wear and tear of the cartilage in your dog’s joints. While your dog has a natural supply of the amino sugar glucosamine in his joints – glucosamine helps rebuild cartilage and lubricate the joint – this supply diminishes with age.  Glucosamine for dogs is a particularly effective supplement that could help treat your dog’s mobility issues, but it’s also important to include variety to your dog’s activity.

Alternative exercises

Varying the amount of pressure placed on your dog’s joints by introducing different exercises into his routine could help protect your dog and enable him to lead a more agile life for longer. Here are some exciting new exercise ideas that will benefit you both.

1. Swimming

Swimming is particularly good for older dogs with joint problems, especially if they have arthritis. Some dogs love water and will instinctively jump into it, however don’t assume your dog is a natural swimmer. A good way to test this is to try them with an easy ‘chase the ball’ activity. It is also advisable to use a pet flotation device at first to ensure your dog’s safety.

2. Cycling

Cycling is a great activity for your joints and can be for your dog’s as well. Attach a tow leash to your bike and place the harness on your dog. This should be positioned in the correct place, so ideally he is just to the right of the saddle with his nose parallel to the pedal. Use an attachment system that allows your dog to run alongside the bike, rather than in front or behind. Practice together in short intervals, working up to longer distances.

3. Hide and seek

Sit your dog in a room of the house that is the designated “seekers” room. Tell your dog to stay, and then leave the room to hide. The first few times you do this stand somewhere easily visible then call your dog, rewarding them when they find you. Increase the difficulty of your hiding place as they get used to the game. You could also hide a treat or toy somewhere in the house to keep your dog’s brain engaged.

4. Dancing with dogs

Canine freestyle is a choreographed set of moves where you and your dog display skill and teamwork to the backdrop of music. One type of canine freestyle showcases the artistry of the dog’s movements, while the other emphasizes the handler and dog’s movement together. Both are excellent forms of competition for dog lovers to become involved in.