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Best ways to exercise your dog when you have a busy schedule

Try to use 5 to 10 minutes of down time each day to play fetch or go for a walk with your pet.
Try to use 5 to 10 minutes of down time each day to play fetch or go for a walk with your pet.
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Heading back to school, getting a new job, emergencies, and other life updates can all contribute to a busy schedule. Nobody would blame you for sleeping in or wanting to do nothing after a long day of balancing all of life's challenges, but dog owners know that kind of relaxation isn't an option when there's a furry face (or faces) demanding food, attention, and love. And don't forget about exercise!

While there are specific recommendations for how much exercise humans need each day, the needs for dogs are much more ambiguous. Different breeds and personality types require different levels of physical and mental stimulation throughout the day to keep them happy and healthy. Doing your research about the needs of various breeds before you get a dog can reduce the chances you'll be stretched too thin by your pet's insanely high energy level. However, all dogs need at least some exercise per day to avoid serious health complications later in life.

Try to commit to at least one walk or play session per day, and build up from there if you feel that your pet still has energy or your veterinarian suggests your pet needs more physical exertion. Struggling to find ways to fit these play sessions into your hectic schedule? Try these tips and enjoy the smile they put on your dog's face!

Self-triggered fetch toys

Modern technology is a beautiful thing. There are machines available that will launch automatically when a ball is loaded into them. This exercise method gives your dog a running workout as well as a mental challenge because they need to learn to place the ball in the machine to continue playing. These machines can be more expensive up front, but they can give your pet endless hours of exercise whether you're home or away.

Use your down time productively

Some people have easy mornings while others are winding down later in the day. Maybe you're steadily busy all day but you have little pockets of free time, such as a lunch break or meetings during which you only have to listen. Use these times to go for a quick walk, go to the dog park, or throw a ball in the backyard.

Exercise your pet when you exercise

It's the old "two birds with one stone" trick. Go running or swimming with your dog so that you both get some time to exercise together. Want to get more creative? Build an obstacle course for yourself and your pet to tackle together. Create functional exercise routines, such as doing a squat, picking up the ball and throwing it, and doing another few squat reps while waiting for your dog to return. You'll feel fulfilled by fitting in a workout, and your dog will feel the same.

Hire a dog walker or dog sitter

Sometimes you simply can't do it alone. Ask your friends and family for help, even if it is just for 15 to 30 minutes each day. Various businesses coordinate dog-walking and dog-sitting services too.

Send them to daycare if possible

Another option is taking your dog to a daycare facility where they can run around with other dogs. You may be required to go through a socialization test and obtain certain vaccinations before putting your dog in daycare, but these places can be great options if you want to drop them off on particularly busy days. Be sure to do your research beforehand though because some businesses are more cleanly than others, and you don't want to find out your dog contracted giardia or worms.

Neglecting to exercise your pet can increase the risk of diabetes, joint problems from carrying extra weight, heart problems, cancer, and other health concerns. It can also leave you with a dog that craves attention and outlets to relieve excess energy, which means you could be dealing with chewed-up furniture or a lot of barking. It may seem like a chore at times, but try to think of exercising your pet as a way to bond with them and an escape from your busy schedule!

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Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at

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