The Purpose of Exercise with Your Dog
At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we talk about the importance of exercise with your dog on a daily basis. Some people get a dog, thinking that walking the dog will provide good exercise. If you are a couch potato, taking your pet for a short walk twice daily will be good for both of you. However, it is important to note that a 20 minute leisurely stroll doesn’t count as exercise. Just as humans need to increase the heart rate to count as exercise, your canine friend will do better if the exercise is at the cardio level.
Just as you would for a person not used to exercise, you need to start slow with your pet. If you are not accustomed to walking with him twice daily, start with that. You can move up the level to chasing a ball or a Frisbee which gives the dog more activity and may even challenge you to extend your range of movement.
Your veterinarian may be able to give you some ideas about exercising the canine companion. Some people participate in steeplechase-type activities where the dog is required to complete an obstacle course of challenges. Regardless of the activities you choose, participate in them with your pet. Look for activities that will challenge him in various ways. Include all the major muscle groups and activities, such as jumping, running, and even swimming if that is an option.
Challenge the mind as well as the body. Intersperse basically physical activities with games such as hide the food. There are a number of toys on the market that challenge the dog to figure out how to get his kibbles by moving puzzle pieces, or other brain stimulating activities.
Exercise for your dog helps to manage weight. Every excess pound on a small dog can shorten his or her life. Exercise improves digestion so that he feels better and gets more benefit from the food that he eats. A dog that isn’t getting enough activity may become lazy and sluggish, further deteriorating its health. Challenging activity often prevent behavior problems such as excessive barking, chewing and jumping on people. The goal in exercise should be to have a canine pet that is happily tired at the end of each day.
You can read more about this on my blog “The importance of physical and mental stimulation.”