Buddy may appear to prefer lying around to fetching his ball, but if you think it's OK to let him do this day after day, think again. If Buddy is too much of a couch potato, as his owner, you're responsible to find out what's causing this behavior and correct it. Chances are, he's not lazy at all, but may just not be naturally predisposed to doing certain activities. It's up to you to figure out how to make those activities more appealing (or comfortable) or try out new activities that he prefers.
Tip #1 - Take your dog to a veterinarian for a full checkup to rule out medical conditions that might be causing his laziness. Infectious diseases, trauma, parasites and metabolic disorders are just some conditions that might affect your pet companion's energy level.
Tip #2 - Take a close look at your dog's diet and eating habits, and report these to the vet. Bring your dog's food's label with you so the veterinarian can look at the ingredients. Your dog might lack energy because his diet doesn't contain all the nutrients he needs, or if he's reacting negatively to the ingredients. The veterinarian can recommend a brand of food that contains the optimum amount of fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Tip #3 - Take your dog on daily walks outside in different locations he's never been before allow him to explore his new surroundings. Your dog should instinctively show interest and respond to these new sights and aromas. Start with a 10-minute walk if your dog is old, overweight or used to a couch-potato lifestyle, and gradually increase the duration as he grows accustomed to daily walks. Regularly change your route to expose your dog to different surroundings and smells.
Tip #4 - Play games with your dog to encourage him to become more active. You might need to try several types of games and a variety of different toys before you discover what piques his interest. Challenge him to a game of fetch where you throw a ball or stick for him to chase and return, rewarding him with low calorie treats to help motivate him. Play a game of tug-of-war in which you entice him to grab and pull a stimulating squeaky or "crunchy" toy.
Tip #5 - Take your dog for a jog or swim. When jogging, look for soft surfaces to run on, such as grass or dirt, in case your pet companion's paws are particularly sensitive. Alternatively, you can teach him to wear dog booties. If you go swimming, start in shallow water if he's not used to swimming. However, never force your dog to get into the water if he shows reluctance.
Tip #6 - Schedule regular doggie play dates with friends who have dogs. It could be that the presence of other dogs can help draw out his playful nature. Not only will this give him physical and mental stimulation he needs, but he'll also develop valuable social skills.
Tip #7 Challenge him mentally by offering him food-filled puzzle dog toys. You can also have him "work" for his meals. When it's chow time, scatter his dinner over the lawn and have him sniff out his food.
Warning - Consult a veterinarian before putting your dog on a new exercise regimen, because not all exercise is appropriate for all dogs. Your dog's age, health and breed must all be taken into consideration.
By Kimberly Caines
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.