Category: Dog Activities

Puppy Exercise: Keep Them Busy, But Don’t Overdo It.

Puppies are little (and not so little) balls of energy wrapped up in excitement.  What are the best ways to keep them active and out of trouble?  How much puppy exercise is appropriate?  Are some types of exercise better than others?  You have questions, and we have some answers.

What is a good puppy exercise?

A good puppy exercise is usually short (think 10 minutes for younger pups to 20 minutes at four months of age).  Puppies over four months may be able to exercise for longer periods of time if their breed allows.  The key is to keep the exercise session short enough to match their attention span.  Young puppies don’t have much endurance yet, because their bodies are immature.

A good puppy exercise is not overly strenuous.  Use low-impact activities.  Running is generally ok in short bursts, but endurance training should be left until your puppy is mature.  Jumping and prolonged running can injure growth plates, and dogs are not generally trained for jumping sports until they are mature.  Large and giant breeds mature more slowly, so be sure to ask your veterinarian when is the appropriate time to begin high-impact sports.  Many sport clubs will start training dogs at two years of age.

The AKC has good information on age-appropriate exercise for puppies.

A good puppy exercise is fun.  Puppies will do anything as long as it is fun!

Some play ideas to get you started

  1. Play hide and seek.  Hide treats around the house, or hide yourself and encourage your puppy to find you.
  2. Go swimming:  Water play is low impact and dogs love it.  Until your puppy can swim strongly, use a dog swim vest for safety.
  3. Play with puzzles.  Dog treat puzzles keep your puppy’s mind active and help her learn good problem solving skills.  Some treat puzzles encourage movement as well.  Your puppy might not retrieve yet, but she will probably enjoy chasing anything you feel like throwing.
  4. Learn tricks and skills.  You can teach an old dog new tricks, but young dogs learn faster.  Your puppy is soaking up knowledge at an incredible rate.  Now is the time to teach him obedience and party tricks.  Work on the recall frequently throughout the day.  Move around the house and call your puppy to you frequently.  Practice leash skills on walks.
  5. Socialize.  Dog parks and doggie day care are great places to socialize your puppy.  He’ll get a lot of exercise while he’s there, too.  Use common sense and keep your puppy out of park areas where reactive or overly boisterous and physical older dogs are playing. Some facilities offer sessions for puppies only.  For example, Bar K Dog Bar in Kansas City has a weekly puppy socialization play date on Wednesday evenings.  Puppy classes with your local pet store or trainer are great places to socialize, train, and exercise your puppy.

Join the Fit2BPawsome challenge to stay motivated.  The challenge is designed to be appropriate for all breeds and life stages.

A busy puppy is a happy puppy.  Keeping her busy with safe and healthy exercise will help her grow into a strong and confident dog.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Bar K Dog Bar is a sponsor of the Fit2BPawsome Challenge

Hey, Does My Dog Look Fat to You?

Most people don’t think their dogs are overweight.  But according to veterinarians, 54% of dogs are overweight or obese.  It’s hard to be objective about your best friend’s waistline.  The good news is that you don’t have to ask a friend, “Does my dog look fat to you?”  There are better ways to know if your dog needs to slim down.

Ask your veterinarian

The best way to determine whether or not your dog needs to lose weight is to ask your veterinarian.  She has trained for years for just this moment, is an objective observer, and has your dog’s very best interests at heart.

Sadly, even though pet parents and veterinarians recognize that obesity is a major health problem, the topic is often not adequately discussed at veterinary visits.  Take the first step and drive this discussion with your veterinarian.  Ask him to show you how to assess your dog’s body condition, and initiate a discussion about how much food you should give your dog.

Track your dog’s weight

Weight gain happens gradually in dogs, just as it does in people.  It can be hard to see it until it becomes a problem.  The scale is your dog’s friend.  If your dog is small enough, weigh her periodically at home.  You may step on the scale with your dog, then without your dog, and subtract to get her weight.  If you have a larger dog, make sure you keep track of your dog’s weight at regular veterinary visits.

A fitness tracker like Babel Bark may help you keep an eye on trends over time.  You can share your dog’s information with your veterinarian directly through the app, or provide it at your next visit.

Gradual weight gain will alert you that you need to make changes in diet and exercise.  Gradual weight loss without an increase in the amount you are feeding may alert you to underlying health problems.

Learn a simple rule of thumb

It can be difficult to know whether your dog is overweight just by looking.  The major problem is that longer or fluffier coats may camouflage early weight gain.  A heavy coat may also make your dog look overweight, when he is actually in great shape.

There are different types of evaluation scale to help you determine your dog’s body condition.  My favorite rule of thumb for assessing body condition is the hand test.  The following video will walk you through this method. Remember to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet or exercise regimen.  For more information and more ways to assess your dog’s body condition, check out the blog at PetMD.

Video transcript

In this video, I’ll demonstrate a quick and easy way to estimate your dog’s body condition.  You just need your dog and your hand!

Rub your hand over the top of the ribs in the middle of the body.

Compare to rubbing your own hand.  If your dog’s ribs under the skin feel similar to your bones under the skin on the top of your hand, your dog is probably at a good condition.  If the ribs feel like your knuckles, your dog is too thin. This challenge isn’t for you; talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog is getting enough food and is healthy.  If the ribs feel like your palm your dog is probably overweight, and if the ribs feel like the ball of your thumb, your dog is almost certainly overweight.

Get active

Whether your dog is in tip-top shape or could stand to lose a couple of pounds, now is the time to get active.  Join the Fit2BPawsome Challenge for support, tips, discounts, and a chance to win great prizes from our fabulous sponsors!

*Babel Bark is a sponsor of the Fit2BPawsome Challenge.

Disclaimer: The above video and the Fit2BPawsome Challenge are intended for entertainment purposes only, and not for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or disease.  Always consult your veterinarian before beginning any diet or exercise program with your pet.


Get Started with the Fit2BPawsome Dog Fitness Challenge

It’s week 1 of the Fit2BPawsome dog fitness challenge.  Here’s all you need to know to get started on this free, 6 week adventure with your dog!  You’ll get support, tips, discounts, and a chance to win great prizes from our sponsors! Join at any time.  The fun starts now!

How the Fit2BPawsome dog fitness challenge works

  1. Sign up.  Use the form on this page to sign up for the challenge.  We won’t spam you, and you can unsubscribe from our list at any time.
  2. Join our Facebook group Fit2BPawsome.  We want to see photos of your dog being active.  Post progress and share concerns.  Share the challenge with your friends to help raise awareness of canine obesity.  Use the hashtag #fit2BPawsome on social media.
  3. Take advantage of discounts from our sponsors.  If you can’t get out with your dog, consider a play day at Dog Pawz or Camp Bow Wow Liberty.  Track your dog’s activity with a discounted activity monitor from Babel Bark.
  4. Check back in.  We’ll post tips for success throughout the challenge on the blog and on Facebook.
  5. Win prizes.  One prize will be selected at random from all registered participants.  And the winner of the Grand Prize package will be chosen on social media. So get engaged.  The more you post and share, the better your chances to win the big one!
  6. Get moving!  Use the free dog and human workout suggestions provided by Flexy Body Babes to get started.

Did I mention prizes?

Prizes include gift baskets from Tail Waggin Pet Stop and Four Leg Stretch, a day care, boarding, and grooming package from Dog Pawz, and a day care and grooming package from Camp Bow Wow Liberty.

Getting started

Remember to start with small steps.  Like humans, dogs need time to get in shape.  Make a commitment to increase your dog’s daily exercise time by a small amount each week.  You will meet the objective of this challenge if your dog is spending more time moving at the end than she is now.


The easiest way to get going is to get out for a walk.  The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has a walking workout plan to help you get the most out of each walk with your dog.  The plan starts with shorter times and increases incrementally.  Don’t be fooled.  Just walking your dog may not be enough.  Your dog may not naturally walk at a pace that is brisk enough.

Monitor your mileage and keep a log.  You’ll be able to chart your progress over time.


We realize that not all pet parents are able to get out for a walk.  You may need to get creative.  For small dogs, motivation to move can be as simple as hunting for hidden treats around the house.

Dog parks and doggie daycare are excellent places for your dog to get moving when you can’t make a long walk.  Track the time your dog spends moving, or use an activity monitor to chart progress.

Be Safe during this dog fitness challenge

Always consult your veterinarian before you begin any diet or exercise program with your pet.  Some breeds, especially short-nosed breeds such as bulldogs, are not suited for certain types of vigorous exercise.

This challenge is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

Join Our Free Fit2BPawsome Challenge

Join our free 6-week fitness challenge and get your dog moving! We'll provide the tips and support. All participants are eligible for fantastic prizes and discounts from our sponsors. This is going to be Pawsome!

Hey, there's no sales pitch! We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Get in the Wag-a-thon, Support Guides for the Blind, and Get Fit2BPawsome

Are you looking for ways to get motivated to exercise with your dog?  Join the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Wag-a-thon during the month of May.  Log 26.2 miles with your dog and raise money to support guide dog training.  What better way to get Fit2BPawsome?

Why Wag-a-thon?

Guiding Eyes for the Blind has been training guide dogs since 1954.  The group recently created a program to train dogs for running.  CEO Thomas Panek, who is himself blind, is a long-time runner.  He has completed a dozen marathons since he lost his sight in early adulthood, but never with the help of guide dogs.  He and his dog, Gus, made history this year by running as the first human/guide dog pair in a sanctioned race.  The pair completed a 5k in Central Park.

The group envisions making it possible for blind runners to complete marathons with the help of guide dogs.  Dogs aren’t built for steady distance running, and it will require 4 dogs for each runner to complete a marathon.

How it works

  • Sign up online and set up your fundraising page.
  • Make a plan to complete 26.2 miles during the month of May.
  • Post on social media
  • Finish by May 31
  • You’ll get incentives along the way and raise money for a great cause.  It takes an estimated $50,000 to train a guide dog for the blind.

Make it count

Joining the Wag-a-thon is a good way to stay motivated to keep your goals for the Fit2BPawsome challenge. You may take advantage of the 25% discount on the Babel Bark fitness monitor and app to track your miles.  Be sure to cross post your progress to the Fit2BPawsome Facebook group and on social media using  #Fit2BPawsome.

Video credit: Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

KC Pet Collective is not affiliated with Guiding Eyes for the Blind in any way. 

Join Our Free Fit2BPawsome Challenge

Join our free 6-week fitness challenge and get your dog moving! We'll provide the tips and support. All participants are eligible for fantastic prizes and discounts from our sponsors. This is going to be Pawsome!

Hey, there's no sales pitch! We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Is Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen?

Do you think your dog has what it takes to be a  Canine Good Citizen?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) certifies dogs as Canine Good Citizens (CGCs) through a training program and practical examination.  It’s not easy to be become a CGC!

The Test

The practical exam is non-competitive and consists of 10 parts. The examination items cited below are listed on the AKC CGC webpage.

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger.  Your dog will allow a stranger to approach and engage in friendly conversation with you.
  2. Sitting politely for petting:  Your dog allows a friendly stranger to pet her.
  3. Appearance and grooming: Your dog will permit someone other than you to check his front feet.
  4. Walking on a loose lead
  5. Walking through a crowd:  Your dog must demonstrate the ability to move comfortably on a leash through a crowded space with you.  You will move close to at least three different people, demonstrating that your dog is  under control at all times.
  6. Sit and down on command and stay in place.  You may choose whether your dog stays in “sit” or “down” position.
  7. Coming when called:  Your dog will come when called.  This will be a long-leash exercise and your dog will return from 10 feet away.
  8. Reaction to another dog:  Your dog will sit quietly when a person and another dog stop to engage you in friendly conversation.
  9. Reaction to distraction: The examiner will create two different distractions such as a dropped chair.  Your dog must remain calm and under control.
  10. Supervised separation:  This demonstrates that you are able to leave your dog with a caregiver.  You will give your dog’s leash to the evaluator and go out of sight for three minutes.  Your dog must not bark, whine, or show anything other than mild agitation or nervousness.

The Pledge

You will also be asked to take a pledge to commit to proper veterinary care, exercise, training, grooming, hygiene, and safety.  The aim of the pledge is to ensure that dog owners understand their dog’s needs and are dedicated to being good dog parents.

Training for the Test

Classes often start with basic obedience, and dogs progress to CDC qualification.  It’s easy to find an AKC training club through the AKC locator.  Even if there are no AKC clubs offering training classes in your area, there are probably local certified evaluators who can point you to a trainer.  We found several certified evaluators in the Kansas City area, and many trainers that offer classes.  You can find a list on our Resources page.

The Benefits

Why should you consider Canine Good Citizen training for your dog?  It’s a prerequisite for many therapy dog programs.  Certification is sometimes required to keep a dog in a rental property.  And getting your dog certified may make homeowner’s or renters insurance pet riders easier to get.  For owners of certain breeds, certification may be the difference between having and not having liability insurance for your dog.

And best of all, perhaps, when your dog is certified s/he gets to proudly claim the title CGC.