One of the many benefits of having a canine companion is the extra incentive to do what (lets be honest) we should probably all do anyway – exercise! Most dogs love getting out to stretch their legs and it’s a great way to bond with your pup. If you need a few reasons to get your dog (and yourself!) off the couch or you’re stuck for fun activities to do together, this is the article for you!
Why Your Dog Needs Exercise
Think about this: your dog’s ancestors spent most of their days on their feet, since it was necessary for their survival. They took care of little ones, hunted for their meals and defended their territory. Dogs are born to be active for most of their waking hours. Fast forward to today, and “active” is not a word that describes most companion dogs.
There are some pretty clear effects of many dogs’ lack of adequate exercise. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 56% of dogs in the USA are overweight or obese, which often “results in more secondary conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and certain forms of cancer.” Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward also says that pets with obesity have reduced quality of life and a shorter life expectancy.
Another unfortunate effect of inadequate exercise is destructive and disruptive behavior. A dog that isn’t getting his energy out is more likely to chew or scratch, bark excessively, play rough, jump up on people and get into things he shouldn’t. Your dog’s body and mind require activity, and you might find he takes it out on you if he doesn’t get enough!
It’s Not Just for Your Dog
The benefits to exercise don’t stop at your dog. Getting active will benefit your health just as much as your pup’s! Even more than controlling weight and combating serious health conditions, exercise will give you a mood boost, help you get better sleep and give you more strength and endurance to complete everyday tasks. Getting exercise together means bonding with your dog, building trust and cooperation. When it comes to being active, there really is no limit to the benefits for both you and your furry companion.
Make Exercise Interesting!
There may be tons of reasons to get moving, but if you and your dog have been walking the same boring sidewalk for months, exercise probably doesn’t look too appealing. The good news is, staying active doesn’t have to mean the same 30 minute walk every day. Check out these unique exercise ideas for inspiration:
Find some new walking buddies: There might be a dog walking group right under your nose that you don’t know about! Exercise is much more fun when it’s social, so do a quick Google search for dog walking groups in your area or check Meetup.com.
Nose work: Place a tasty smelling treat in a small box and hide it in the backyard or even the house. Have your dog find it in increasingly challenging locations to get him moving and using his nose! Fruitables Alaskan Salmon Jerky Dog Treats are the perfect little morsels to keep your pooch motivated.
Get a new toy: There’s nothing like a new toy to get your dog excited to move! Join the fun with an interactive toy like the KONG Camo Wubba. A game like tug of war, which involves a quick burst of intense activity, suits a dog’s natural exercise tendencies more than a slow, steady walk.
Follow the nose: You probably normally direct you and your pup’s daily walk, so let him take the lead for a change! You might be surprised where the two of you end up.
A Note on Safety
Exercise should only benefit (not harm) you and your pup! Here are a couple guidelines to keep in mind.
Know the limit: If your dog is overweight or not used to exercise, he might not be able to handle much at the beginning. Start slow and make sure he gets breaks and access to water. Talk to your vet about a healthy exercise program.
Make exercise breed-specific: Dogs with short snouts might be limited by breathing difficulties. If your dog has thick fur, you will need to be extra cautious while exercising in warm temperatures to make sure he doesn’t overheat.
Avoid exercising around mealtimes: Intense activity immediately before or after your dog eats can cause problems like bloating. Plan your dog’s meals and exercise around each other.
Getting active and getting your pup active can’t start soon enough! Give some of these ideas a try and enjoy the many benefits that are guaranteed to follow.