Exercise or lack there of causes so many canine health and behavior problems every year. What most owners do not know is that there are many different forms of exercise and how to do it safely for your dog and the people around you. First, lets talk about what is not exercise. Most people think that letting your dog run around the backyard while you cook dinner is getting them their exercise or that getting the invisible fence or fencing that huge yard will solve their problems, it will not. Our dogs can run in that yard alone all they want but you will never notice a change in any negative behavior because that running in the yard is only minimally physically stimulating with no mental stimulation. Our dogs want our engagement and have us do things with them whether it be a belly rub or obedience, exercise is no different. If you take your dog outside and then go back inside and leave the dog to run alone, everyone looses. Your missing out on prime time to play with, bond, train and engage with your dog.
Think about that. Some owners tend to think if they walk their dogs they are not getting the exercise they would if they would run around in a backyard. I will tell you that your dog will get way more out of a structured 30 minute walk then 15 minutes of running around the backyard without interaction. What happens during a structured walk, your dog is actively working with you to walk at a good pace with a loose leash and ignore distractions. They are being socialized to all the objects, cars, people, other dogs, squirrels, that you encounter on your walk.Walks are the most important activity for you and your dog, want to bond with your dog and become even closer, walking is he way. Think of your leash as an extension of you, creating this communication with your dog while you walk. Then our dogs learn our walking rhythm, our pace, when we stop, when we run, how we move, the list goes on and on. Each walk is a closer step to a better bond between you and your dog. Let me reiterate that these applies to structured walks where your dog is not pulling or overly focused on the ground. We always want a loose leash and eye contact while we are walking our dogs. Personally I try to walk my dogs around 1-2 hours a day and then playtime with toys with hand feeding meals by doing obedience with those meals. It sounds like a lot but it is not! It takes me 10-15 minutes to feed my dog by doing obedience which will be demonstrated in an upcoming video.
If your dog does not get this physical and metal exercise they need, it leads to a lot of behavioral and physical issues. Behavioral problems can be chewing, mouthing, barking, spinning, aggression, etc. If our dogs do not get their energy out they will find a way to release that energy. The old saying “A tired dog is a good dog” or “A tired dog is a happy dog” are both true. If your dog is exhausted after a day, they are going to behave because they are going to sleep or be calmer, but also they are happier because they got that energy out. Now lets talk about the physical problems that happen when your dog is not getting the exercise they need. The main problem with your dog not getting enough exercise is obesity, Your dog can gain weight which then puts stress on their joints and organs. This is especially important for people who own large breed dogs who can really hurt their hips, knees, and elbows by being obese. Even smaller breed dogs need to stay in a healthy weight otherwise they can suffer from health problems as well. Often part of the solution to behavior problems is an increase in exercise for your dog. Some breeds need more exercise then others and this should be taken into consideration when selecting your dog. Do not go for the dog that you like because they look one way, pick the dog that is best going to fit your lifestyle.
There are many fantastic ways to get your dog the exercise they deserve. My favorite is walking which I talked about earlier, it is not only stroll around town but a bonding experience between owner and dog. Some other great ways to get your dog exercise is doggie daycare, these places are fantastic at allowing your dog to learn social skills with trained staff watching them. You can purchase a long line and go to a park to let your dog run around on the long line and chase balls and be a dog if they are not off leash trained. I will be honest from my own personal experience, I had to get about an hour earlier every morning to make sure my dog got the exercise and stimulation she needed before I leave for work. Dog walkers are also great for your dog as long as the dog walker knows how to walk your dog using the techniques you taught them. The fantastic part about all of this is that there are so many different services out there to help you get your dog out and exercised, I personally was not able to afford a dog walker so that is why I got up earlier to run with my dog for an hour then feed her doing obedience then into the crate. Once I returned home it was right outside for another hour of exercise and potty.