Today, I’ll share a few tips to help you exercise your dog when you’re sick. On that note – I hope you’ll get better soon!
While I haven’t been sick in over a year, I just brought back a cold accompanied by a “lovely” cough from my trip to Southern California. Ugh. And while I didn’t have the energy to go for a morning backpack walk with Missy, I managed to exercise her in a different way.
Because let’s face it – I would have had one whiny puppy on my hands if she hadn’t had her morning exercise.
So! This post is for all the sick doggie parents of active dogs. Those who can’t take their pups for their daily exercise and who don’t have a partner, family member, neighbor or friend to do it for them.
How To Exercise Your Dog When You’re Sick
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Hire A Dog Walker/Runner
This one’s a no brainer. A professional dog walker/runner will give your dog the exercise he needs while following your instructions.
A 30 minute backpack walk? Done. A 60 min run? You got it. A 2 hour hike? No problem.
Note that I emphasized the word professional. If you’re going to trust a stranger with your dog, ask for references and make sure they have pet sitting/dog walking liability insurance in place.
It’s totally fine to ask to see their certificate of insurance, by the way. I carry mine on me at all times and I’m not offended if a new client asks to see it.
You may wonder how to go about finding a reliable professional dog walker? Fellow dog walker/blogger Lindsay from ThatMutt.com gives great advice on this topic in her blog post What To Consider Before Hiring A Pet Sitter.
Just like me, Lindsay is the owner-operator of her very own dog walking business in Southern California (the latter is UNLIKE me…I’m in NC).
Update 2021: Both Lindsay and myself are no longer in the dog walking/pet sitting business. Lindsay is a full-time dog blogger now and I create written content for a dog gear brand (Mighty Paw), along with writing this blog.
Try To Have A Dog Walker On Call Before You’re Sick
By the way, ideally you should think about finding a dog walker before you get sick. That way, all you have to do is text/email/call when you’re actually sick. Because let’s face it – you’re probably not going to have the energy to interview a dog walker in that condition.
You can search for dog walkers/pet sitters in your area by typing your zip code into Pet Sitter’s International Homepage.
I can’t even remember how many times I’ve received texts from regular dog walking clients letting me know they’d be home unexpectedly because they were sick…but to PLEASE still come by and exercise their pups because they just couldn’t.
Downside: You’ll obviously have to pay for this type of service.
Use Stairs/Tools Inside Your Home
Here’s how I exercised Missy that morning when I felt like crap.
I grabbed a bag of our favorite single-ingredient, air-dried treats from Real Pet Food and walked upstairs into our bonus room.
My Dog Agility Tunnel
In there, I have a doggie tunnel set up that I use on a regular basis for exercise and nose work. You can find those tunnels on Amazon for around $40. If you don’t have the space to leave it out permanently, it easily folds up.
Once upstairs, I pulled the tunnel close to the staircase, sat down at the very top of the stairs, and had Missy run up and down.
I get her to do that by breaking the treats into tiny pieces and throwing them down the stairs. She LOVES her treats and immediately goes after them.
Every now & then, I’d also throw a treat inside the tunnel so she’d have to go after it, and over the tunnel so she’d have to jump over it. We did that for about 30 minutes, at which point she was panting.
My voice was kind of fading, so I made it a point not to speak. This does more than just going easy on your throat because it’s also a great bonding exercise between you and your pup.
Couch & Homemade Obstacles As Tunnel Alternatives
If you don’t have stairs inside your home, you could get your pup to jump up and down on couches/beds and throw a large handful of treats inside your living room (or whichever room, really) or yard. Having to sniff out food is a great mental exercise for our pups and will burn energy.
You can also set up other obstacles like stacks of books that you connect with a broom or similar long item. It’s just a matter of how much energy you have left to set stuff up if you’re not feeling well.
Use A Laser Pointer
Laser pointers are another great option to get your pooch to run around the house without you having to move around a whole lot. Heck, you could even do it from the comfort of your bed.
Dogs who like to play fetch will typically be into it. Just give it a try and see how your pup reacts to it.
Good to know: Some dogs with neurotic tendencies won’t do well with laser pointer games on a regular basis. That said, I don’t see anything wrong with using this approach occasionally when you’re not feeling well.
Throw A Ball
Definitely a no brainer if your pup is ball crazy. Get comfy on your bed, the couch, or sit on the floor wrapped up in a blanket and throw your pup’s ball.
Let Your Dog Go For A Swim
If you’re lucky enough to live right on the water or to have a pool on your property AND your dog is the definition of aquapup, you could just let them go for a swim.
Of course you’ll still have to supervise, but you could do that while sitting or lounging close by.
Offer Him Dog Food Puzzles
Another great way of entertaining your pup is to offer him dog food puzzles. The way they work is they’re hollow on the inside and you stuff them with treats or dry dog food.
Some of them roll or bounce, which makes it a bit harder for your dog to get the goodies out, but that’s exactly what you want. That’s because your dog burns mental energy while he’s figuring out how to get to the treats or food.
How To Exercise Your Dog When You’re Sick: Bottom Line
Finding yourself depleted of energy does not necessarily mean that your dog’s energy level will go through the roof.
They can still get a decent amount of exercise by applying some of the life hacks I mentioned – ranging from hiring a professional dog walker to throwing the ball or letting them run up and down stairs.
***Feel better soon!***
How do you exercise your active dog when you’re sick? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!