So you get home from work and you’re tired…really tired. The last thing you want to do is don your walking shoes and take Fido on a walk. Does he need one? Or can he survive without exercise?
In this article, I’ll take a look at why exercise matters to your dog.
For starters, let’s look at some of the main benefits of exercise for canines:
- Improves cardiovascular activity
- Strengthens bones
- Develops joints and muscles
- Helps the gastrointestinal tract function properly
- Regulates weight
- Relieves stress and reduces aggression
- Helps pets age with fewer health problems
- Enhances the immune system
Choosing the Right Exercises
Now that we’ve established that consistent exercise goes a long way in improving your dog’s health, you may be wondering what kind of exercises are best for your dog. A swift jog around the neighborhood might be good for a young, pert dog, but it may put too much stress on an aging dog. Make sure to take into account the pedigree and age of your pet before you take them out to exercise. Some conditions will severely inhibit a dog’s ability to exercise. For example, dogs with dysplasia should avoid vigorous physical activity because it may worsen their condition.
If you have a healthy, active dog, long walks with periodic short-term bursts of activity and acceleration are a great way to enhance their physical development. And don’t think that you have to be walking alongside your dog to get them proper exercise. You can engage them in other activities, such as playing with other pets at the neighborhood dog park. If you have a roomy back yard,
let them out to run and play regularly.
Remember that after vigorous exercise, you should help facilitate a cool-down period for your dog. This can help restore their breathing and pulse and allow their muscles to relax.
As you try to come up with an appropriate exercise regimen for your dog, make sure you take cues from their behavior. They should be exerting themselves but not overdoing it. If they are panting too hard or acting overly exhausted, you may want to dial it back. Also, while their heart rate will accelerate due to the exercise, if you notice that they don’t return to normal breathing for a while, that’s another sign that you may have pushed them a little too hard.
Remember that, just like people, dogs get bored with the same old thing. Make exercise stimulating by adding some mental components as well. For example, you can give them verbal commands and have them fetch a stick or ball.
Where to Start
Now that we’ve discussed generalities, let’s look at some specific exercises that may be right for your dog. Here are a few ideas:
- Running – If you’re a jogger, take your pooch along. If they’re faster than you are (or than you want to be at the moment), hop on a bike and let them follow your course. To intensify the exercise, build in accelerations and hills. If your dog isn’t used to this, it may take them a while to master the trotting motion and to sustain running for longer distances.
- Stair climbing – This is great for humans and dogs alike. If you live near a stadium with bleachers, you can see how your dog handles the stairs. Avoid this with smaller dogs who could fall between the gaps. If you have stairs in your home, you can move up and down the staircase, encouraging your pooch to follow you as you go or catch a ball that you toss from top to bottom.
- Swimming – Swimming is easy on the joints but packs a great cardiovascular punch. It also helps keep dogs cool in the blazing days of summer. If you have access to water, swimming is one of the best exercises for your dog.
- Obstacle – Try setting up an exercise course with different obstacles for your pup to jump over and crawl under. This adds a mental challenge to their physical fitness and can work new muscle groups. Make sure that the obstacles aren’t too high for your pet too clear.
- Towing – This can be too stressful for very young dogs because their skeleton is not yet fully formed. For other dogs, though, towing can be very helpful for the back, chest, and neck muscles. You will need a special harness for towing. You can attach the harness to carts and sleds of different sizes to give your pet a workout that strengthens the heart, lungs, and muscles.
The most important thing here is to check with your veterinarian to ensure that the exercises you choose for your pet are appropriate to their health needs. When you pair regular exercise with a healthy dog diet and canine vitamins, you can help your pooch stay healthy and happy for years to come.
Dogs also need exercise. If you just let them stay still, doing nothing, they would grow fat and unhealthy. That sounds pretty like a human too, right? While you run, walk, play and do other exercises with your dogs, you are also exercising. So, get up and be with your best buddy to do the following exercises.