It’s simple: a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. No matter the breed, age, or size, every dog needs regular exercise to help maintain good mental and physical health. Regularly exercising your dog can benefit both you and your dog in many ways. Check out our previous post here for some statistics on exercising your dog.
Benefits of exercising your dog:
- Helps reduce or eliminate common behavioral problems such as excessive barking, licking, chewing, digging, anxiety, and even aggression
- Keeps your dog healthy and limber
- Aids in a healthy digestive system
- Assists in build your dog’s confidence and trust through environmental and social exposure
- Helps keep your dog at a healthy weight and reduces obesity
How do I know how much exercise my dog needs?
Obesity is the number one health concern for pets. Approximately 54% of dogs are overweight or obese and for most people, identifying your dog’s ideal body condition score can be challenging. If you are at all concerned about your pet’s weight, talk to your vet immediately about getting them started on a good exercise program. Not all signs that your dog is in need of a good walk will be obvious. Behaviors stemming from boredom or frustration [see ‘Benefits of exercising your dog’ above], are good indicators that your dog isn’t getting out enough. If your dog is pacing or wandering around the house, it could be another sign he is itching to get out. On the other hand, if your dog is lounging on the couch and doesn’t wake when you move towards the door, his need for exercise may not be as great. However, this doesn’t mean he wouldn’t enjoy or benefit from going for a walk. If your dog continues to bring you a ball and beg for some attention even after an hour walk, they may not be getting the right type of exercise. At the end of the day, your dog should be happily tired. They should not be showing signs of stiffness or so exhausted they don’t want to eat.
What type of exercise is best for my dog?
Exercise for your dog can come in many different forms. Experiment and choose a form of exercise that suits your dog’s interests and abilities, as well as your own.
- On-leash walks offer structured exercise that is often enough for smaller dogs or brachycephalic breeds (short or flat faced dogs such as pugs or bulldogs).
- Off-leash walks allow your dog to go at their own pace; running, sniffing, or playing as they need.
- Swimming is a great way to burn that excess energy. Keep in mind, water isn’t for every dog.
- Fetch with ball-oriented dogs can mean hours of focused fun on nothing but the game. This is a great way to burn a lot of energy in a small space, or with limited time.
- Dog sports are group/class activities such as agility, flyball, rally-o, or lure chasing. These are another great way to get your dog out a couple of times a week
- Running or biking. Most dogs are bred for short, fast bursts of running, not necessarily for running a marathon. Be sure you are listening to your dog when they show signs of slowing down.
- Exercising their brain instead of their body. Working a dog’s brain is another way to stimulate them and can be as simple as feeding them from a puzzle dish or giving them a stuffed Kong.
- Training your dog is another way to tire them out. Working on their recall or teaching them a new trick will stimulate them both mentally and physically.
What if I can’t get my dog the exercise they need?
We all love our pets and want to do right by them. But we also lead busy lives and cannot always be there. Luckily, the professional pet care industry has expanded greatly in the last couple years. Professional dog walkers are available to help your dog get the exercise and attention they need while you are at work. The right amount of exercise will help prevent health complications and expenses further down the road. Although you might feel the added expense is more than you can justify, if it ensures that your dog gets the exercise they need to lead a healthy, happy life, it is worth it.
Written By: Rachelle Biever CPDT-KA