Did you know that an estimated 56% of dogs in the United States are either overweight or obese? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, this is a serious health threat — reducing life expectancy, and increasing the risk of skin disorders, chronic inflammation, and orthopedic strain.
One of the best ways to keep your dog trim and healthy is with a regular exercise routine, and while this can definitely include a walk around the block, it’s also nice to change things up a bit. Just like humans, dogs appreciate some variety in their exercise routine, which is why we’ve compiled a list of toys and tools that will help you keep your dog more fit. As a little bonus, you may find that you become more fit as well.
Toys for Playing Fetch with Your Dog
Playing fetch is a great way to exercise your dog
Fetch is one of the easiest ways to exercise your dog, and if you have a natural fetcher, consider yourself lucky. If your dog doesn’t naturally gravitate toward fetch, the American Kennel Club has some great tips for teaching your dog to retrieve whatever you throw.
Here are some of our favorite dog fetch toys:
Kurgo Skipping Stones
These colorful, non-toxic “stones” from Kurgo are a great alternative to a typical slimy ball, and perfect for dogs who love to swim. They float in water, are dishwasher safe, and super durable for dogs of all sizes. It does take some practice to make these stones skip across the water, but that’s just part of the fun. Each package comes with two stones in bright neon colors that are easy to spot on the water.
Chuckit! Ball Launcher with Ball
If your dog is very active and you have a big yard, then the Chuckit! Ball Launcher and Ball may be just what you’re looking for. Ball launchers allow you to throw balls further and more effectively while keeping your hands clean. We recommend using a ball launcher in conjunction with other types of activities, as there are some downsides to this kind of exercise.
The Chuckit! Ball Launcher is lightweight and made of durable plastic. The classic size is 26” in length and throws a medium Chuckit! ball or a regular-sized tennis ball. They make a variety of sizes so that you can play with smaller dogs in smaller yards, or larger dogs in larger yards. The best part is that you can play fetch without slobbery hands.
Hyperflite Glow-in-the-Dark Disc
This super rugged dog disc is promoted as the world’s toughest competition dog disc. It is puncture resistant, capable of record-setting long-distance throws, and the best part? It glows in the dark so the fun doesn’t have to end after the suns sets. The Hyperflite Jawz Pup Disc features high-tech polymers and dual grip surfaces, is made in the United States, and is 7” in diameter. This awesome disc is perfect for games of fetch, but should not be used as a chew toy.
Gear for Getting Fit with Your Dog
Walking or jogging with your dog means that you’ll get some exercise too!
Getting outside and walking, jogging, or biking with your dog is a fun way to connect with your dog while keeping you both fit. These tools may be just what you’re looking for as you plan your next dog-friendly adventure.
Walky Dog Plus Hands-Free Bicycle Attachment
For active, healthy dogs, the Walky Dog Plus bike leash lets you safely take your dog for bike rides. The quick-release attachment works with most bikes and is made of high-quality carbon steel for strength. The leash is made of 550-pound-strength military-grade paracord with an internal shock-absorbing system and quick lock and release capability. This allows the dog to run or walk parallel to you while you ride without crossing in front of the bike. The Walky Dog should not be used with puppies under 12 months or dogs under 33 pounds.
Hands-Free Dog Leash
The hands-free leash from Tuff Mutt allows you to run, walk, or jog with your dog using an easy-glide belt clip. This is a great tool for avid runners, as it helps relieve shoulder pain, improves your natural running motion, and provides better control for your dog on mixed terrain. Dual handles allow you to use your hands for better control when necessary, and a durable bungee absorbs shock and keeps pulling to a minimum. Reflective thread keeps you and your dog more visible at night, and the Tuff Mutt leash comes with a lifetime guarantee. According to the manufacturer, this hands-free leash is best for medium and large dogs.
Backyard Fun for You and Your Dog
Make your backyard more exciting with some agility equipment!
FitPAWS Balance Disc
Balance training provides general health benefits for your dog, engaging different muscles while building core and limb strength. The FitPAWS Balance Disc is a great tool for dogs who are overweight or have mobility issues and is also a fun training tool to develop spatial awareness. It is made of heavy-duty plastic to prevent punctures and can be filled with a hand pump or a small compressor. Changing the level of air in the disc will change how your dog responds and encourage him to use different muscle to stay balanced.
Bubble Machine for Dogs
For the dog that has everything, the Bubbletastic Bacon Bubble Machine for Dogs blows a windstorm of bacon-scented bubbles for your dog to chase and pop. The machine requires four AA batteries and comes with eight ounces of bacon-scented bubble solution, which is totally nontoxic for dogs or children. Who knew that dogs could have so much fun chasing and popping bubbles?
Foldable Dog Pool
If you already own a pool and let your dog swim, then you’re ahead of the game and can skip this recommendation. If not, you should definitely check out the Jasonwell Foldable Dog Pool, which is portable, durable, and slip-resistant for warm-weather fun. The pool come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose based on your dog’s needs. A bottom/side drain makes it easy to empty and refill as needed.
Backyard Agility Set
Doing agility with your dog is an awesome way to work on training and fitness at the same time, and it’s also a fabulous way to strengthen the bond you share with your dog. Agility equipment can be expensive, so if you’re just starting out, we’d recommend this affordable agility set, which includes a bar jump, six weave poles, a tire jump, pause box, and a three-foot tunnel. This is all you need to get started on a hobby that may just become a life-long passion for you and your dog, providing endless hours of physical exercise and mental stimulation.
West Paw Tug Toy
Playing tug-of-war with you or another dog will satisfy your dog’s natural urge to pull and tug on things without being destructive, and while it was once thought that playing tug would make your dog more aggressive, this has proven to be a myth. For more on why playing tug is good for your dog, check out our article on the topic. As for which tug toy to use with your dog, we’d recommend the Zogoflext Bumi by West Paw Designs. This rugged, non-toxic toy stretches to twice its length during games of tug, is made in the USA, and is dishwasher safe. It’s also 100% garaunteed against dog damage by West Paw, which is pretty impressive.
It doesn’t matter how you choose to stay active with your dog. The most important thing is to get outside and enjoy a dog-friendly lifestyle. We hope the products mentioned above will inspire you to embark on new adventures with your favorite canine.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.