Everyone knows that it’s important for people to exercise on a regular basis for their health and well-being. While you’re making time for the gym and various activities to stay – or get – fit, remember that exercise is just as important for your dog. Dog obesity is becoming a major concern for vets, with an estimated 20 – 40 percent of dogs seen by vets considered overweight or obese. Similar to the effect on humans, obesity in dogs is linked with many health problems including stress on joints and ligaments, difficulty breathing, cardiac problems, skin issues, and possible increased risk of cancer. Aside from the medical concerns, the extra pounds also limit dogs’ speed and stamina, make it more difficult to deal with heat, and may prevent dogs from enjoying activities they once loved.
Dogs have been bred and kept by humans for thousands of years to perform various types of work. But the modern pet dog lives a rather sedentary life compared to his ancestors. Lack of adequate exercise can create frustration and boredom in dogs, leading to increased barking, digging, chewing (on non-chew toys) and behavioral problems in some dogs. Simply letting your dog out alone in the backyard will not necessarily encourage exercise. Most dogs need some stimulation from a person, another dog, or a fun environment to really get moving.
A few ideas for exercise:
- Dog Daycare at DogServices is designed to provide a mix of playtime with canine friends and rest. Our animal behavior coach evaluates all of our furry guests and assigns each dog to a small “team” so they can socialize during their playtime. Daycare can be booked for a half-day or full-day, 7 days a week.
- Add a Walk onto your dog’s next day of daycare at DogServices for additional exercise.
- Sign up for an Excursion at DogServices for a day of daycare or boarding. If your dog enjoys playing with other dogs of similar temperament, we’ll pair him up with one or two other dogs for a 1-hour Nature Hike at a nearby trail or park. The new setting will be mentally stimulating and the extended exercise will make for a tired (and happy!) dog at the end of the day.
- A Game of Fetch, hide and seek (with toys), or chase will provide the physical activity they crave and quality time with their favorite human – YOU!
- Exercise their Brain as well as their body. Dog training, food puzzle toys, and even chew toys can provide mental stimulation they need to combat boredom (and possibly destructive behavior).
Also keep in mind that different dog breeds usually have different needs when it comes to exercise, According to VetStreet.com, ‘Dogs that were bred to be active for sustained periods, such as many sporting, herding and protection breeds, as well as some types of Terriers, may need longer exercise periods than those bred to have short bursts of energy, such as many hounds and some toy and companion breeds. Dogs bred to retrieve are happiest getting their exercise by fetching, and often, swimming; those bred to hunt like to chase and explore; those bred to pull carts or sleds love to pull; and those bred to herd enjoy herding, but may have to settle for chasing and catching’.
If your older dog has trouble moving around or you’re concerned about how to get them to exercise more without over-doing it, talk to your vet about supplements or medications to help their mobility and low-impact exercise they recommend. Before starting any exercise program – even for young, healthy dogs, chat with your vet to get their recommendations based on your dog’s size, breed, and health.