Exercise is an important part of any dog’s life in order for it to remain healthy. It not only keeps your dog in shape by keeping muscles and ligaments more flexible, but also releases nervous tension leading to a better behaved pet.
This can be accomplished by taking your dog on walks or runs, and even by simply playing energetic games like tug-of-war or fetch. Below are links for some great local parks that you can bring your dog to in order to get them running around outside. There are also specialized programs you can do with your dog that incorporate exercise, such as search and rescue training or agility training with Albany Obedience or another similar organization. Visit Albany Obedience Club for ideas.
Hiking professional, Alan Via, takes dog friendly local hikes with his hiking partner Toby. The Bethlehem Area YMCA has information about meeting up with Alan and Toby for local hiking opportunities. You can also check out Alan's book about hiking with his dog The Catskill 67, a Hiker's Guide to the Catskill's 100 Highest Peaks under 3500 Feet at I Love Books, the Four Corner's Bookstore.
It’s important to make sure your dog isn’t overexerting itself, so watch out for breathing difficulties or fatigue. In addition, start out with easy activities before working up to more complicated ones to ensure your dog isn’t working too hard. Dogs are much more heat sensitive than cold sensitive. If your are uncomfortably hot, they surely are, too! And if you are uncomfortable with proper clothing in the cold, they might be. Just to be sure, you should always consult your veterinarian for specific guidelines concerning your dog to make sure they’re ready for heavy exercise.
A lot of people don’t know that cats need exercise too. If your cat doesn’t go outdoors and doesn’t have a companion, make sure you play games with it, such as having it chase a string, ball or other toy, to keep it in shape. Pet stores have plenty of cat toys to choose from, but homemade toys work great too, such as cardboard boxes or PAPER bags to play in. Cats also love having climbing posts and perches, with the added bonus of keeping them off your furniture. A scratching post is a must! We prefer surfaces NOT naturally found in your home, like cardboard or bark or rope. Some cats LOVE a good game of laser pointer tag! If your cat doesn’t seem to like playing, using cat nip can help get them interested in a toy. Really any sort of short, intense exercise is good for your cat; some can even be trained to walk outside on a leash!