Before starting out on any fitness adventure, you must always ensure you’re properly prepared. You’ve read countless reviews of running shoes, searched for heart monitors to calculate your calories burned, and meal-planned until you envisioned healthy recipes in your sleep. If you’re creating an intense workout or diet plan, you may also need to visit your physician for a thorough health evaluation and diet consultation. 

You should put the same amount of effort into planning a new exercise and diet regimen for your furry pal, to ensure a safe, smooth introduction to their life of fitness. Outfit your pet with a comfortable, well-fitting harness, try on paw-protecting booties, and select a diet that has plenty of high quality protein, to fuel your adventures. You should also visit your family veterinarian, to check for underlying cardiac or orthopedic issues that may make vigorous exercise unsafe for your four-legged friend.

Once you and your dog have received clean bills of health, and they are kitted out in a bright harness, GPS collar, and maybe a pair of Rex Specs to protect their eyes from UV rays, sticks, rocks, and bugs, you’re ready for adventure. Here are five ways to incorporate more exercise into your life—after all, your four-legged friend is a built-in exercise buddy. 

#1: Take the path less-traveled

Rather than sticking to the same old boring hiking trails, seek a path you’ve never explored, such as Riverside State Park or South Hill. Not only will the new scents and sights invigorate you and your pooch, but you may also discover steeper slopes and tougher obstacles, kicking your cardio workout into high gear. If your feline friend is harness-trained, you can try taking them hiking with the family, but watch closely, to keep them safe from unleashed dogs and other predatory animals.

Create more fun for the entire family with a treasure hunt for nature’s delights. Make a list of plants, animals, and insects, and encourage your family to find each item and take pictures, rather than disturb the environment. Help preserve the beautiful outdoors by handing out bonus points to the person who picks up the most litter. 

#2: Include your pet in your favorite activity

Do you enjoy paddleboarding, kayaking, cross-country skiing, or scaling mountains? Whether you like to stick to your home state, to enjoy the great Spokane outdoors, or travel to another state, include your furry pal. More and more people are traveling with their dogs, and including them in exhilarating outdoor activities. If you think your pooch would enjoy exploring novel scenery or participating in a new activity—and is trained well enough to make a well-behaved traveling companion—pack their belongings, and head out in search of adventure.   

#3: Enroll in an energetic training class

Training classes aren’t only for teaching your pet fancy tricks. A wide variety of invigorating, fun-filled courses are available that will get you and your pet up and moving. An entertaining favorite is canine musical freestyle, which accepts dogs of all obedience skill levels. Neither your nor your dog need to claim you can dance—all you need is to have fun kicking up your heels together to a choreographed music piece. 

Treibball is another engaging activity for you and your pooch. Your dog learns to target eight large balls, and push them into a soccer goal without your physical help. This game is a great way to brush up on vocal and hand cues, and encourages your dog to focus on you for direction.

#4: Create a rainy-day home agility course

Despite the prevalence of rainy days, you can exercise indoors with your pet. Create an indoor agility course, and lead your  pet over jumps and around obstacles, racing for the fastest time. Cats can also be trained to run agility courses, provided they have an appropriate reward, such as a feather wand to chase, or a tasty treat to follow. 

Cats love playing in boxes, so design a cardboard-box maze, with treats hidden inside, for a feline-friendly indoor activity, or install climbing towers with lookout perches for less-interactive play. Cats enjoy surveying their territory from a safe height, plus a climbing tower with a scratching surface allows them to engage in claw care.

#5: Invite a friend along on your adventures

The most mundane activities are more fun with a friend. Dogs in particular enjoy a familiar friend—whether two- or four-legged—tagging along on an outing, and canine friends can help your pooch burn more energy by racing across the backyard or an open field, provided they have an excellent recall. If your cat is suspicious of new people, you may appeal to their natural curiosity to engage with a friend with a fishing-pole toy or feather wand.   

Did your leisurely weekend stroll with your pup turn into a wild squirrel chase, ending with a pronounced limp? If your furry pal has suffered a “sports-related” injury, but your family veterinarian is unavailable, get your pet immediate relief—call us at Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center