How to Exercise a Lazy Dog: 6 Tips That Work


A typical day for you goes a little something like this. You nudge your dog awake, who seems to be perpetually sleeping. You present their leash and collar and request a walk, but your dog doesn’t move. You know even lazy dogs need exercise, but how do you get yours up and at ‘em?

The following tips should help you exercise your lazy dog:

  • Incentivize them with treats
  • Engage them with fun new toys
  • Change their environment
  • Teach them new tricks
  • Get your dog a play buddy
  • Start with less activity and work your way up to more

If your interest is piqued by some of the tips above, then you’re definitely going to want to keep reading. In this article, we’ll discuss why your dog may be so lazy, the reasons they need more exercise, and how to get them enjoying physical activity. You won’t want to miss it.

Are Some Dog Breeds Lazier Than Others?

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. Most of what drives the character of your pup is their breed. For example, dogs that were bred to be workhorses through carrying cargo or herding livestock rarely lose that drive. These canines require lots of exercise, have boundless energy, and often appreciate being given things to do.

Other breeds have a regular amount of energy. They lack a history as working dogs, so while they love a good romp around the backyard, they equally enjoy a nice, cozy nap.

Then there are the lazy breeds, the ones with the least predilection towards exercise. These include a large number of dogs, among them the following:

  • Tibetan Spaniels
  • Bull Mastiffs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Miniature Pinschers
  • Pugs
  • Bassett Hounds
  • Cavalier King James Spaniels
  • Chow Chows
  • Shih-tzus
  • English Bulldogs

Now, just because you have a dog that has made your living room couch their home doesn’t mean they don’t need exercise. It’s just that getting them excited about going out may be a bigger challenge than anticipated.

Can Medical Conditions Make a Dog Lazy?

What if your four-legged friend wasn’t in that list of 10 dogs above but is still lazy? Well, a dog’s breed doesn’t necessarily mean they conform to all standards of that breed. They could be lazy by personality or through you raising them that way.

More seriously, your pup may also lack energy due to an underlying medical condition. Here are some to look out for.

Anemia

Both people and animals like your dog can become anemic. Although it’s not a disease, anemia still influences the body’s red blood cell count, lowering this. Hemoglobin levels may be similarly affected.

Hemoglobin, if you’re not aware, is a red blood cell protein that transports oxygen. That oxygen comes from the red blood cells themselves. These cells serve another important role, as they rid the body of carbon dioxide.

Without enough red blood cells and hemoglobin, the body has less oxygen. Another symptom of anemia in canines involves changes in the dog’s feces. These may have dark-colored blood, and the stools they do pass may have a consistency like tar. The stools, which are also dark in hue, are known as melena.

Your dog’s skin may bruise more easily due to loss of platelets. They’ll lack energy and even be listless, and their gums might look white or light pink.

The causes of anemia are multiple, including nutritional imbalances, bone marrow disease, kidney disease, cancer, toxins, Cushing’s disease, parasite infestation, immune diseases, and trauma.

Luckily, anemia is treatable, although sometimes a blood transfusion is necessary. Otherwise, your veterinarian may recommend surgery, chemotherapy, and/or corticosteroids depending on the cause of the condition.

Arthritis

Even if your dog is getting enough oxygen, they won’t want to exercise if they’re in pain. Arthritis can affect a canine’s joints in the wrists, knees, lower back, elbows, and hips. If more than one joint is impacted by arthritis, this is known as osteoarthritis.

Older dogs tend to develop arthritis and osteoarthritis most frequently. Canine inflammatory joint diseases that mimic arthritis could be triggered by Cushing’s disease, obesity, chronic injuries, osteochondrosis, fungal infections, or diabetes.

Arthritis, like in people, starts in dogs when their joint cartilage lessens or is damaged. This cartilage provides lubrication to the joints so there’s less friction. With long-term arthritis, joint bone spurs can develop, which are even more painful.

Exercising your dog is one good way to lessen arthritis pain, as is acupuncture. Physical therapy and weight management are two other recommended treatments.

Lyme Disease

If your favorite furry friend isn’t on a tick medication, they’re at risk of getting Lyme disease. All it takes is a deer tick carrying the disease to bite a dog and they’re infected. The symptoms may begin to manifest in a day or two.

Those symptoms include lymph node swelling, depression, no appetite, fever, breathing troubles, touch sensitivity, and stiffness when walking. Your dog may exhibit an arched back as well. Do keep in mind that a decent number of canines with Lyme disease, 10 percent, are asymptomatic.

Lyme disease can cause complications of the nervous system and the heart if left untreated. A four-week round of antibiotics, sometimes longer, may fully treat Lyme disease, but not always.

Thyroid Disease

A dog’s thyroid, which is by the Adam’s apple past the trachea, sends hormones called triiodothyronine and thyroxine into the body. These hormones maintain the metabolic rate. Calcium is regulated by calcitonin, which also comes from the thyroid.

Diseases, disorders, and other abnormalities of the thyroid can reduce hormone production, known as hypothyroidism. Oppositely, hormones may ramp up excessively, which is called hyperthyroidism. Both can cause your dog to become lazy as well as increasing their cold sensitivity and weight.

Medications such as supplements can regulate hormone levels, but these must be administered for life, especially for hypothyroidism, since this is incurable.

If you believe your dog may have one or more of these conditions, you don’t want to hesitate to schedule an appointment with your vet. It’s possible that once your pup gets on a treatment regimen for the disease or condition that their activity levels could naturally increase.

Reasons to Get Your Lazy Dog More Exercise

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of why your dog hates exercising. If you’re rather sedentary yourself, then you might not feel so bothered by your lazy dog’s habits, as they’re in tune with your own.

Hopefully, the reasons we’re about to cover will convince you both to change your ways.

Preventing Boredom

Like we people get bored with the same ol’ routine day in and day out, your dog can as well. By adding some exercise into their life, you shake up the routine. Now, dog doing something fun for their body and their mind. This ought to make them less sluggish as they realize their zest for life.

Bringing You Two Closer

You love your dog more than anything, and we’re confident your pup returns the sentiment. That said, if you two want to increase your bond even more, why not spend some great one-on-one time together running around and playing?

Whether you prefer to throw a ball with your dog or go for a jog just the two of you, these experiences create timeless memories and make your pup love you that much more.

May Reduce In-Home Destruction

A dog with nothing to do will have no choice but to entertain themselves. Unfortunately, your dog’s idea of entertainment may differ from yours. For example, they may have a ball chewing on your expensive shoes. Your dog may also quite enjoy ripping up couch cushions.

If your pup already has a history of wrecking your home and everything inside it, exercise could be the cure. Mentally, they’ll love the stimulation, and physically, they’ll be satisfied as well. Plus, with a really good exercise session, your dog will be so tired they won’t even think of ruining your home. They’ll just want a nap.

Keeping Joints Moving for Less Pain

In the last section, we mentioned how exercise is one means of treatment for dogs with arthritis or osteoarthritis. This enhances joint lubrication so basic activities like walking or running aren’t nearly as painful. Also, your dog gets more muscle support, keeping them strong and stable internally.

Before you get into a new fitness schedule with your arthritic dog, be sure to speak to your vet. They can approve of certain activities and maybe even recommend some you wouldn’t have thought of.

Could Slow the Signs of Aging

We already get too little time with our dogs as it is. Larger dogs often have a shorter lifespan, giving us sometimes a decade or even less to appreciate every single day with them. Even though smaller dogs live longer, it’s still never long enough.

By exercising regularly, it’s possible to prevent the development of diseases that could wrack the body and mind and cut our dog’s already-too-short lifespan even shorter. As an added bonus, we people get the same perks!

Lessening Anxiety

Yes, dogs can get anxious, too. Rarely exercising may worsen anxiety as your dog gets trapped in the same routines. By engaging with them and leaving them panting by the end, their anxiety should abate.

Preventing Obesity

One of the biggest and most convincing reasons to exercise with your dog more often is to avoid obesity. When your dog becomes first a little chubby, then overweight, and then obese, their health begins a downward spiral. They may develop breathing problems, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.

As we’re sure you can imagine, these health issues can lead to a premature death for your dog, which you certainly don’t want.

Tips to Exercise a Lazy Dog

Your new goal is to start spending more time prioritizing your dog’s physical fitness. You know it will be best for you both, but you just don’t know how to get started. Let’s go over the six tips we talked about in the intro, expanding on each. You’ll soon have plenty of great ideas for motivating your lazy dog to move!

Use Treats as an Incentive

Your dog might not get up for much, but one thing that always drives them out of their slumber is food. They go gaga over treats too, just like most other dogs. You can use this knowledge to your advantage as you start your new exercise routine with your dog.

Each time your dog stays outside and engaged in play for 10 or 15 minutes, you might reward them with a single treat. The longer they’re outside and running around with you, the more treats they get. Just make sure you don’t overdo it!

You could even take treats or pieces of kibble and hide them around the house. This is like an Easter egg hunt but for doggies. Make sure your dog doesn’t see where you hide the kibble. A few pieces can be in plain sight, but you want to gradually make the game harder to keep your dog into it.

Your pup should use their super-sniffing nose to track down where their treats or kibble may be. The food reward they get each time they do a job well done will keep them on-track to find all the pieces.

Buy Them Fun New Toys

When was the last time you bought your dog some new toys? We talked earlier about how boredom can cause your dog to play with household furniture rather than their own stuff, so maybe it’s high time.

Playing is a great way to exercise your dog, but if they’ve used every toy they have a dozen times over, they need something new.

Some dog owners opt for a food-dispensing toy. These are often rubber and have a hole or gap in which you can insert your dog’s treats. Besides doggy treats, cheese or peanut butter are also things to add to a food-dispensing toy.

While your dog can see the food in the toy, they can’t immediately access it. These toys are puzzles, and your dog must do something to be able to nosh on the food or treat within. You will have to show your pup how the puzzle toy works or else they may lose interest in it.

Once they know what they’re doing, food-dispensing toys can provide hours of entertainment.

Change Their Environment

You surely know what being in a rut feels like. After months of going from work to home and back again, you feel like you’re on autopilot. To break up the monotony, you may book a vacation or even a day trip away from what you know.

Your dog doesn’t have the luxury of booking any trips. It’s up to you to recognize that yes, they may need something different, too. If you always take your dog on the same walking route, go down a different street next time. Try a new dog park. Play in the front yard rather than the backyard.

These may be small changes to us, but to your dog, they make a world of difference. They’ll love getting to see, smell, and experience new areas.

Teach Them Something New

Speaking of newness, the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is not necessarily true. Training your dog at something they haven’t learned stimulates them both physically and mentally. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an overly complicated command, either, but it shouldn’t be so easy that your dog figures out what to do in 10 minutes.

Here are some tricks you can try together:

  • Bang, in which you make finger guns at your dog and they play dead (this is how you teach this trick)
  • Crawl (YouTube video on how to teach it)
  • Light, where yes, your dog could learn how to turn a light switch on and off (tutorial)
  • Fetch, but this time, it’s a drink or a pair of shoes they bring you instead of a stick
  • Weave, like through polls (which is great for agility training! tutorial)
  • Look left or right
  • Catch
  • Put toys away
  • Grab a dish or leash
  • Open or close a door, which does require you to tie a bandana or other cloth around the doorknob (tutorial)
  • Jump, especially through a hoop! (tutorial)
  • Shake hands (tutorial)

Dogs are incredibly intelligent animals. Give yours a chance to impress you and he or she almost assuredly will.

Bring in a Play Buddy

If the above methods haven’t inspired the kind of activity in your dog that you were hoping for, don’t give up quite yet. You could always bring another dog into the mix. This doesn’t have to be another dog of yours, but rather, a neighbor or friend’s canine.

It’s best if this other dog is especially energetic and exuberant. Of course, your dog and their play buddy should already be familiar and comfortable around each other. As this other dog shows off their boundless energy, their efforts to play might incite your dog to get off their fluffy butt and move around as well.

Start Slow

While the goals above are all realistic, you don’t want to aspire to overnight results, or you’ll be disappointed. That’s doubly, even triply true if your dog hates certain exercises. For instance, did you know every dog doesn’t love going on walks? It’s true!

Other breeds, such as Terriers, are brachycephalic. This refers to their face shape, which is small and squat. That makes them prone to inverse sneezing, also known as reverse sneezing or snorting. Technically, the act is called inspiratory paroxysmal respiration. What that means is that the dog’s soft palate in their throat becomes irritated and spasms.

This causes quick breathing and snorting-like noises. Since brachycephalic dogs have longer soft palates yet shorter airways and nasal passages than other breeds, they will snort more. While snorting is not necessarily a medical concern, it can affect a brachycephalic dog’s ability to exercise.

Even if your dog has no roadblocks to exercising, starting them slow and easy can remind them that hey, exercise isn’t so bad. They may then be more on-board with your attempts to lengthen the exercise sessions.

Here’s an easy exercise regimen your lazy dog might follow as you get them started with more physical activity.

Step 1: Take a very short walk, like from the front porch to the mailbox and back. You could augment that with a few minutes of fetch if your dog is in the mood, but don’t expect much yet.

Step 2: The next day, let your dog run free in your fenced-in yard or at a dog park. Time them to see how long it takes before they get tired and don’t want to run and play anymore.

Step 3: Later that same day or the next, introduce a food-dispensing puzzle toy to the mix. You may combine this with a short walk if your dog is feeling up to it, but don’t push.

Step 4: As a new day arrives, spend it training your lazy pup. The point of the training is to pinpoint any issues with balance, coordination, or movement. Once you’re sure of what your dog can do, have them walk up and down a flight of stairs. Repeat this up to six times if you can.

Step 5: The day after that, schedule a trip to the dog park or even a dog beach. Swimming is a great activity that gets your dog’s heart pumping and their little legs stretching.

Step 6: By this point, you should have worked your way up to more regular walks or even runs with your dog. If they were unable to go far before, that may have since changed.

How Often Should You Exercise a Lazy Dog?

You’ve finally got your lazy dog up and going. How many times a week should you play and run with them?

Whether your dog loves or hates exercise, they need at least 30 minutes of it a day. Some dogs can go as long as two hours daily, which is something you may have to work up to with your lazy canine.

The smaller your dog, the less time you have to spend on physical activity. While there may be some days your tiny pup wants to play for upwards of two hours, this isn’t as necessary as it is for a larger breed. Those dogs should have no less than 60 minutes of activity, with a goal of 120 minutes.

Will Your Lazy Dog Ever Become More Active?

With the tips and information in this article, you’ve spent a lot of time the past few weeks exercising with your dog. You and them alike both feel great, but you can’t help but wonder how sustainable this is. Can your canine companion truly turn over a new leaf and become an active dog?

That depends. Like we discussed in the last section, small brachycephalic dogs may always have issues with exercise. All the running around can trigger a case of inverse sneezing, which is not curable. You’d have to exercise your dog in a controlled environment and for limited periods for the rest of their lives.

If your dog was overweight, their difficulties with movement may have made exercise hard for them before. Once they start losing more weight by playing and going on walks with you, they may find they like exercise because they can do it more easily.

The same goes for an arthritic dog, who may have been in too much pain to really enjoy exercise before. With a regular schedule of physical activity, your dog’s joints feel looser and more lubricated. Now your dog loves running around more.

Even if your dog is a lazier breed that doesn’t quite grasp the appeal of physical activity, you still have to do your best to schedule daily exercise. Sure, it’s not super easy to roust your sleepy dog from their bed. There will also be days where you don’t want to do much. Once you two both get out there, though, you’ll feel so much better for it.

Conclusion

A lazy dog may be that way because of how they were raised. Their breed can also play a role in how much they like to exercise. Despite their own preferences, it’s for your dog’s health and longevity that they do something active every day for at least 30 minutes.

Now that you know how to get your dog out of bed, you two can realize the benefits and joys of exercise together. Best of luck!

Mark

I grew up alongside a Labrador. I've been obsessed with dogs since then and owned several different breeds. My passion is to share my knowledge and start this blog about my furry friends. I hope you enjoy my articles.

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