While countless dog owners are often desperately looking for suggestions on how to cope with their hyper dogs, on the other side of the spectrum, are dog owners looking for ways to motivate and exercise their lazy dogs. Whether you own an overweight bulldog who desperately needs to shed some pounds or you simply would like to spend more outdoor time with your pooch, there are several ways you can motivate your lazy dog to exercise.
How to Exercise and Motivate a Lazy Dog
First and foremost, it's important to rule out medical problems. It would be unjust to incite your dog to move more if that reluctance to move is medically related. Many dogs are reluctant to move because of localized joint pain, but at times the causes may be something more systemic such as an energy draining condition like anemia, a nutritional deficiency or even cancer. It's also important to consider Rover's emotions as well. Some dogs that look lazy may be simply withdrawn, depressed or even anxious-- just like humans. After medical and behavioral conditions have been ruled out, you can then attempt a few strategies to help your dog enjoy exercising more.
If your dog is reluctant to go on walks, don't force him to go on a 20-minute walk right away. He will likely dread it, and next time, he'll be even more reluctant to go than before. Instead, keep the first walks short, sweet and fun. This will leave him with a pleasant memory, and day after day, he may be more and more eager to accompany you on your daily strolls.
Find the Right Activity
Have you even seen your dog's eyes spark with enthusiasm when doing something he really enjoyed? You want to use this enthusiasm to your advantage. All dogs have something they love to do. Whether it's retrieving a toy, running through an agility tunnel or flushing birds out of a bush, let your dog have fun doing it and make the activity extra exciting.
If you own one of those lazy dog breeds, you want to make moving a rewarding experience. As with walks, start little by little. Put your dog in a sit stay, walk several steps away and then enthusiastically call your dog and reward him with a toy or some treats. Make a big deal of it! If your dog is overweight and you are worried about calories, use kibble to your advantage. Sit in the yard, and take a portion of his daily kibble and make him work for it. Toss each piece of kibble one by one so he'll have to chase it and look for it. What a great way to move and burn calories, versus just eating out of a bowl!
Find a Play Mate
If your dog is a social butterfly, he'll likely feel more motivated to move around if he sees another dog moving around. The other dog doesn't have to necessarily engage him in relentless play; exploring the yard together and going on sniffing adventures is often a good start-- the rest will come later. The larger the area, the better, as more space to explore translates into more walking, sniffing and chasing.
Let Him Follow
If your dog is very attached to you, he'll likely want to be engaged in all your activities. Many dogs are capable of adjusting their activity levels to yours. So if you decided to become a couch-potato your dog will welcome the idea, but if you decide to go hiking, your dog will be glad to accompany you too. Most likely if your dog looks for you when he is left alone or appears restless when left in the car, he wants to follow you, so when feasible, let him accompany you on your outings if this is a way you'll be able to increase his exercise.
As seen, there are several ways you can encourage your lazy dog to become more active. After ruling out medical and emotional problems, it's simply a matter or increasing motivation and making movement rewarding. As always, be careful though not to overdo it. Some breeds are prone to breathing problems and overheat easily, and some others were just not meant to become active dogs.