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How to maximise baseline activity levels

You can increase your dog’s activity level and calorie burn with a few simple tweaks to your daily routine.

Taking steps to maximize baseline activity is especially important for dogs who are physically disabled or unable to participate in walking programs. These 13 tips will help you increase your dog’s baseline activity level:

1. Separate food from sleeping areas

Place your dog’s food bowl at the opposite end of the house to their bed or favorite sleeping spot. This way you dog will need to walk further to eat. When feeding your dog divide food between several bowls and place throughout the house.

Alternatively, scatter dry food/ kibble around the garden and send your dog on safari! Encourage increased activity by having your dog hunt and sniff out their food.

2. Turn meals into a puzzle

Consider using a dog food puzzle bowl or Kong Ball. These will help lengthen meal times and keep your dog on their feet for longer.

3. Dedicate time towards a daily play session

Spend a minimum of five minutes per day playing with your dog. The more the better! Keep an eye out for our “game of the week” in your coaching series.

4. Visit off-leash dog parks

Drive your dog to a safe dog-friendly park and let them amble around at their own pace. All the enticing smells will soon have your dog exploring their surrounds. No matter how slow the pace, every little bit of activity helps!

Encourage play sessions with other well- socialised dogs.

5. Join a dog club

Consider dog training or obedience classes.  Then incorporate tricks and obedience training into your day to help keep your dog active as well as mentally engaged.

6. Increase toilet breaks and involve your dog in chores

Take your dog out for as many toileting breaks as possible. Have your dog accompany you during chores e.g. putting out the bin, checking the mail box and hanging out the washing.

7. Arrange a doggy play date

Invite a doggy play mate over for a play. Canine frivolity is sure to raise your dog’s activity level.

8. Reach out to dog service providers

If your own physical limitations prevent you walking your dog, consider using a dog walking service. If your dog is often home alone, consider a doggy day care service where your dog is supervised and kept active throughout the day.  (Ensure your dog is not fed any extra when in the care of others.)

9. Consider hydrotherapy

Depending on your dog’s physical capability, supervised hydrotherapy and the use of a water treadmill may be beneficial. As well as providing exercise, hydrotherapy aids muscle toning and joint mobility. Check with your veterinarian first.

10. Use a support sling

Help extremely overweight dogs get active, by slinging a towel beneath their tummy. Supported by two people, you can assist your dog to get up and to take short walks. Do this frequently throughout the day to aid your dog’s circulation.

11. Research dog mobility aids

Consider aids to support your dog’s activity e.g. a ramp to help your dog get in and out of the car, non-slip matting and booties to help your dog keep their footing, a Haltie or harness to reduce pressure on the neck and windpipe when walking.

12. Get a summer-time clip

Add some spring to your dog’s step with a new haircut. Overweight thickly furred dogs are particularly prone to overheating and to skin infections during summer. Reduce the risk and help your dog experience renewed energy levels, with a summer-time clip.

13. Call on your tribe!

Call on the help of friends and family. Let them be part of your dog’s weight loss journey. Need help with dog transport, loading your dog in the car or need company during walks? Just ask!

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