Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy. While some dogs need more activity than others, finding time for fitness everyday can help you and your pet.
Promoting an active lifestyle for your dog has many health benefits.
Exercise helps promote a healthy weight for your dog. It also helps them burn energy — and a tired dog is often a well-behaved dog.
Pups who don’t get enough play time may develop depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental health issues which can impact your dog’s behavior, personality, and quality of life. The good news: Exercise gives your dog a mental boost.
Sadly, while you can’t turn back time for yourself or your pooch, exercise can help ward off joint pain and stiffness by keeping joints loose and lubricated. Plus, an active dog is less prone to age-related diseases, like arthritis and heart disease.
A healthy and active lifestyle often involves socialization and training at the same time. Socialization with other pups at the dog park can help your dog grow friendlier — plus, it gives you an opportunity to chat up fellow pup parents. Meanwhile, teaching some obedience training can help them live happily (and safely) by your side in the human world.
Whether you play fetch or go for a run, having fun with your dog is a great way to strengthen your bond. This can make your pup more obedient at home and more apt to listen to your commands in any situation. Plus, they’ll love you more for it.
“Whether exercise consists of longer walks with a dog sitter while you’re at work, or playing fetch in the park on Sunday Funday, it all counts,” says Rebecca Greenstein, DVM, chief veterinarian and owner of Kleinburg Veterinary Hospital in Ontario, Canada.
Perhaps the most basic way to exercise your dog is with a walk. Taking your dog for a walk can be the perfect start or end to any day. Plus, building a walk into your routine is relatively easy. If you tire of the same old route, try a hike for a change of scenery. If you and your dog are a little more energetic, you can try a jog or full-out run, too.
Do you have access to a dog-friendly lake, beach, or pool? Swimming takes stress off the joints while they exercise, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). That also makes swimming a good option for older or arthritic dogs. Just be sure the water is safe to swim in before letting your dog near it.
Most dogs love running, chasing, and jumping. It awakens their natural instincts and wears them out in a way that’s fun for both of you. If you have a particularly active pup, you can incorporate obstacles: Swings, slides, and park benches can all be makeshift challenges for your dog to jump on and around in order to fetch the ball.
According to the AKC, agility training is a good option for an active young dog. Added bonus: It’s fun to watch them barrel through a tunnel and launch over a high jump! You can repurpose many things you have lying around the house, like a hula hoop, or buy or build agility equipment for cheap. You’ll have your dog learning in no time!
Creating a routine with your dog is key to their happiness. It gives them something to look forward to each day as you get out of the house and explore with them.
Just remember to keep any off-leash activities in an enclosed area; and pay attention to signs of tiredness, dehydration, or discomfort. Otherwise, have fun!