8 Fun Ways to Help Your Dog Exercise Without Taking a Walk
Many seniors have dogs like me for companions, either as service animals or simply as four-legged best friends. While it’s important for us to get plenty of exercise, it’s not always easy for you as you age to take your critters for the long, adventurous walks we love so much. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to walks that will give your furry friend all of the exercise he needs! Here are a few fun ideas to keep our tails wagging and paws moving.
This is a great way to entertain us indoors and on a budget. Bubbles are at nearly every dollar store as a party favor, or can be made using household soap and water. We love to chase anything that moves, so we’ll jump sky high to catch a shiny bubble. Hey wait! Where did it go? Bubbles can even be found in dog-safe and dog-friendly flavors like chicken and peanut butter, so we’ll be begging for more. You won’t find us turning down a treat or two either. You could even splurge on a bubble blowing machine to keep us entertained with or without you. If you have those smaller-sized humans, let them work double bubble duty, entertaining themselves and us!
Puzzle balls are neat contraptions that hide pieces of our favorite food, requiring us to figure out how to get the snacks out. A Kong is one of the more popular puzzle toys for dogs. Shove in our favorite treat, and we’ll work at it until we retrieve every crumb. For added fun, put peanut butter in it. There are some owners who swear by freezing a puzzle toy and feeding their dog meals from the toy. This way, they get their workout and their meal all at once. Maybe after all that work you could throw us a bone and give a freebie?
Teasers, or flirt poles, are often marketed toward our feline friends — they make great toys for them, too! — but we love these feisty toys too. We’ll have fun chasing our tails around in circles while you dangle the toy over our backsides; all the while you get to rest on the couch. It is recommended that this toy be used for dogs who know basic commands, such as “sit” and “drop it,” in order to keep this toy fun and safe for dogs and an owner’s achy joints, since they aren’t meant for playing tug of war. If you don’t want to purchase one, you can easily make one at home.
A soft, plushy toy is needed for this game, which you can find cheaply at dollar stores or in the clearance aisles of pet stores. Plushies can safely be thrown indoors with a low risk of us breaking a favorite fragile decoration. Toss the toy from one room to another, and watch our tails wag with pride when we trot back to drop it in your lap. If your dog hasn’t quite grasped the idea that fetch is a two-player game, this is a good opportunity to practice some obedience training, too, which will go a little further in tiring out your fuzzy pal.
A Pet Sitter
We know you love us unconditionally, but it’s okay to take a breather. If you have a particularly energetic dog and you need some help getting him tuckered out, don’t hesitate to bring in back up. Hiring a pet sitter to watch us once a week or even once a month will give you a break and will give us a little more socialization. Ask the sitter to play with us as much as possible during our time together. We certainly won’t mind! You might even see if they’ll take us to the dog park. We love making new friends and exploring new places. After some time with the sitter, your dog will be pooped, and you’ll be rested and ready to play with them the next time they’re ready. Is right now too soon?
This is another classic toy for cats, but we’ll chase a tiny speck of light around a room too! These are also cheap party-favor style toys that can be used from the couch that we occasionally sneak onto. However, it is another toy that is recommended for dogs with a basic understanding of obedience training, and some dogs will chase shadows habitually after learning to chase a laser pointer.
Although this is an unconventional and expensive option, it would be an investment for your pet’s health. Many dogs love to walk on treadmills. With adjustable speeds, we can walk, jog, or run, and have instant access to our cozy bed when we need a break. This is a great option if you don’t have a nearby sidewalk, your yard is small, or you live in an apartment with no yard at all. Check out DogTread Dog Treadmills; they have specialized models that are designed especially with us in mind.
Another good opportunity to sneak in some learning with some fun play is a game called “Find It.” Hide our favorite toy or a treat, and let us sniff it out. Start out easy by hiding the treasure in the same room as us while we sit and wait for you to finish. Sometimes we get so excited that we just can’t sit still long enough. In this case, have us wait in a different room. The game can get progressively more creative. Eventually, you can try hiding the treat in a cabinet and watch your dog learn to maneuver the cabinet door, or hide it under a pile of blankets and let your dog dig it out just like he’s in the great outdoors finding his favorite bone!
If you find that you are unable to help us exercise properly with these types of tricks, there are options available to delegate this task and keep us healthy. Ask neighbors or local youth if they are interested in walking your dog for some extra cash. You may be able to find an avid walker or runner in your area who would be willing to take your dog with him or her while they train, or you could even hire a professional dog walker.
If things start to get too tough for you, think about finding a pet-friendly assisted living situation for us. Unfortunately, in some circumstances, it may be necessary to rehome your animal. Look into finding your pet a home as a therapy animal for other seniors, or ask your neighbors, friends, or family members to adopt him so you can visit your fluffy friend. We are your loyal best friend, and we’ll love you no matter what. As we both age, make accommodations to our exercise and play. Our tails will keep wagging as long as yours does!