Exercise and Your Dog
Is your dog getting enough exercise?
Although exercise is one of the most important things dogs need to be happy and healthy, many dogs aren’t getting enough of it. In fact, recent studies show that 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.
While exercise is one of the best ways to combat weight-related health issues, dogs also need daily exercise to relieve stress and anxiety; strengthen their bond with their owners; keep their joints strong and healthy; allow them to act on their instincts; provide mental stimulation; and socialize.
Benefits of Exercise for Dogs
1. Exercise relieves stress and anxiety.
Just as it does for people, exercise alleviates stress and anxiety in dogs. By reducing stress and anxiety, exercise can also decrease related negative behaviors such as chewing.
2. Exercise can strengthen your bond.
Time spent exercising your dog is time spent together, which can strengthen your bond. By walking, playing, or getting another kind of exercise together, you will help grow your relationship with your dog.
3. Exercise is good for their joints.
Exercise is essential to keep your dog’s joints healthy, especially as they grow older. This is for three reasons. The first is that when your dog is a healthy weight, it prevents excess pressure on their joints than if they were overweight. The second is that exercise keeps their joints lubricated. And, lastly, exercise strengthens your dog’s muscles that support their joints.
4. Exercise allows your dog to act on their instincts.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine, but all modern dogs are descendants of wolves. Although our furry friends have changed a lot since then, they still carry instincts with them. Getting active allows your dog to fulfill their instinctual needs, especially dogs whose ancestors were bred for hunting or herding
5. Exercise provides your dog with mental stimulation.
During quarantine last year, we all got a taste of how boring it is to sit inside and do nothing for long periods of time. Guess what? Your dog thinks it’s boring too. Exercise gives dogs mental stimulation that alleviates boredom.
6. Exercise is a good opportunity for socialization.
Activities like walking or playing at the dog park are great opportunities to socialize your dog with other dogs and humans.
7. Exercise prevents obesity.
One of the most important reasons to get your dog enough exercise is that it prevents obesity. Obesity is a serious condition that increases a dog’s risk for certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, urinary bladder stones, and anesthetic complications. On average, dogs who are overweight live 6-12 months shorter lives than dogs who are a health weight. However, recent studies show that the difference can be up to two years.
Ways to Exercise Your Dog
1. Take your dog on walks.
+ Walks not only give your dog the exercise they need, but also allow them to smell exciting new smells that give your dog mental stimulation. For this reason, it’s recommended that you walk your dog in different locations if possible to continually stimulate their sense of smell.
+ Walks are also a great opportunity to socialize your dog. If your dog is comfortable with it, you can allow your dog to greet people and other dogs that they meet on their walk. Just make sure that you always have permission from the other dog owner!
2. Dog park
+ If your dog is comfortable around a lot of other dogs and people, dog parks are great places for your dog to exercise and socialize. Since your dog can be off-leash at the dog park, they have the opportunity to run faster and longer than they can on-leash and play games with other dogs like chase.
+ Note - many dog parks are separated by size, so make sure only to take your dog to parks appropriate for their size.
3. Obedience training
Your dog can get the exercise they need while also learning new things! Obedience training can be both physically and mentally rewarding for your dog depending on what you are teaching them.
4. Climb stairs
Unfortunately, the weather isn’t always ideal for a long walk or a day at the park. That’s when dog owners have to get creative. If you have stairs in your home, you can help your dog exercise inside by playing fetch or other games up and down your stairs.
Do you have other suggestions for getting your dog exercise? Comment below!