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At-Home Dog and Cat Olympic Courses _ ASPCA Pet Insurance _ cocker spaniel running in a backyard

Looking for a fun way to entertain your pet and give them a healthy dose of exercise? Let them go for the gold in your own competitive games.

What is a Dog or Cat Olympics Course?

The Pet Olympics can be anything you want it to be. Think entertaining obstacle courses either inside or outside your home.

Indoors works perfectly for cats (who should always be kept inside) and small dogs who don't need tons of room to move around. Outdoors can be a fantastic way to get some fresh air and activity for any sized dog.

You can buy obstacle course items, like bar jumps or tunnels. Or tap into your creative side and make them out of things you have around the house, like cardboard boxes, PVC pipe, or hula hoops.

setting up an obstacle course for your pet _ white cat crawling through a toy tunnel

Why Set Up a Pet Course?

For one, it's a fantastic way to give your pet a daily dose of exercise. Dogs and cats need activity to help them maintain a healthy weight and keep them in great shape.

Four-legged friends who become overweight or obese are at a greater risk for health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Obstacle courses also have other physical benefits, such as improving your pet's balance and agility. This can be especially helpful as your pets get older.

Plus, exercise supports your pet's mental health keeping them happier and more engaged with their surroundings. They'll be less likely to grow bored or frustrated, which can lead to anxiety and unwanted behaviors. Pets who don't have enough activity may start barking or constantly meowing, chewing or scratching at the furniture, or going to the bathroom where they shouldn't.

Pet Olympics are a fun way to liven up your pet's usual exercise routine and bond with your pet. You can spend quality time together training them to understand and navigate the course. If your pet is an energetic people pleaser, they'll love the chance to show off and watch you smile as you cheer them on.


You can help support your dog or cat's mental health by taking steps to enrich their environment.


Pet Olympic Safety Tips

These tips can help ensure your Pet Olympics will be a safe and enjoyable experience for you and your pet.

  • Make sure the course is safe. Safety should be your number one priority. Check that the obstacles are sturdy without any sharp edges and that they won't fall on top of your pet. Jumps should also be set at a reasonable height for your pet.
  • Think about their personality. Pets who are curious and adventurous may dive right into an Olympic course. They may also love more exciting activities like frisbee catching or dashing through long tunnels. Other pets may be more reserved and prefer obstacles that are simpler to accomplish, like stepping over a low bar. They may also need some extra patience and encouragement to get them interested in the course.
  • Consider your pet's health. If your pet has not been exercising much, is older, or has an existing health condition, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian for advice on how to ramp up their activity level safely.
  • Follow your pet's cues. You should never force your pet to do something they don't want to do. Be patient and coax them along slowly at their own pace. If you rush them, they may get anxious and refuse to even attempt the obstacle course.
  • Have fun! Keep your activities light and fun for both you and your pet. If either of you starts to get frustrated, take a break. Enjoy a rest and a snack together and try again at another time.

Read on for some great ideas on setting up dog and cat-specific courses.

Olympic-style obstacle courses for dogs _ golden retriever on a leash zig zagging through pylons

Dog Olympics Games

There are endless ways you can set up a DIY dog obstacle course. Here are some sections you might want to include:

  • Zig zags – Add a section to your course where your dog can zig-zag around PVC pipes stuck firmly in the ground or small orange cones. You can also buy poles specifically designed for agility dog courses.
  • Tunnels – Put up a kid's play tunnel or create one using sturdy materials that won't collapse on your dog. Make sure the tunnel is wide enough for your dog to fit. And keep in mind that your dog may be nervous about going into a dark place at first. You can try coaxing them inside a little at a time with a few treats.
  • Jumps – Lots of dogs love to jump! You can purchase jump obstacles with multiple height settings or you can build them yourself out of PVC piping, joints, and caps. Small footstools or stepstools can also make good jumps.
  • Hoops – Buy agility hoops or use hula hoops if you have any around the house. You may need to spend some time teaching your dog how to leap through them. You can start off by holding the hoop upright touching the ground so your dog can walk through it. Then gradually raise the hoop off the ground little by little.
  • Ramps – Use plywood or purchase ramps that your dog can run up and down. You can get creative with these ramps by adding some flat area in the middle or making one that has a seesaw action.
  • Army crawl – Put out a low table for your dog to crawl under. If you're inside, you can use a coffee table. If you're outdoors, a patio table will do. Just make sure it's high enough for your dog to manage.
  • Sprints – Leave some area of your course open and encourage your dog to sprint as fast as they can. This is a great way to help them burn some energy!

When your dog crosses that finish line, reward them like the true athlete they are with lots of praise and applause. A special meal or favorite treat is also a great way to celebrate.


Looking for something new to teach your pooch? Check out these 5 fun dog tricks.


Cat Olympics Games

Your cat obstacle course can include many of the same challenges described for dogs. Cats can zig-zag around objects, run through tunnels, jump over obstacles, go up and down ramps, army crawl under tables, and sprint to the finish. You'll just need to be creative and set it all up inside.

You can also add things that feed into your cat's natural instincts to climb, hunt, and explore. For instance, you can include a sturdy cat perch in the course. Coax them to run up one side and down the other. Set up paper bags or cardboard boxes along the route so they can dart in and out of them.

If they're not interested in your course at first, lure them along with a fishing wand toy or a play mouse on a string.

Be sure to throw your cat a fun celebration when they complete the course. Sprinkle a little tuna water on their kibble, give them some tasty treats, or whip up a special meal for them. And of course, plenty of scratches around the ears and under the chin are in order!

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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