I enjoy walking, playing with and just spending time with my two dogs. Moreover, to say that they enjoy those things would be an understatement. They LOVE to go for walks, play fetch and hang out by my side all day long! When I ask them if they are ready to go for a walk, their ears perk up, and they head straight for the leashes with tails wagging.
Exercise benefits us in so many ways. It helps increase our endurance and flexibility, strengthens muscles around the joints, and wards off most of those health problems caused by being fat. The same thing is true for dogs. And knowing that our pets help lower our blood pressure, boosts our immunity, and lessens our anxiety – why not exercise along with your dog and both benefit from getting up & moving?
General Guidelines to Exercise
One of the first things you should do before starting a new dog exercise program is to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. During the wellness exam, your vet will evaluate your dog for any lung, heart, or other medical conditions. They will check for signs of arthritis, musculoskeletal diseases, inflamed joints or ligaments.
If your dog is overweight, your vet may suggest that you start with a low-impact exercise such as swimming or walking for shorter durations. Once your dog has built up a little endurance you can work up to more vigorous, longer periods of exercise. Remember that proper nutrition combined with exercise will give your dog the energy he needs and will assist in his weight management.
Find an Exercise Routine that you Both Enjoy
Not all dogs are built for jogging (and neither am I), and not all dogs enjoy swimming, so it is important to find an activity that you both can enjoy. The type of exercise will depend on the age of your dog whether they are a senior or a puppy, physical condition, and breed.
Brachycephalic or short-nosed breeds such as Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs get overheated very quickly, so they may need a low-impact exercise indoors or in the shade. Most dogs would be considered sprinters versus marathon runners, so choose a Lab if you are looking for a dog that can go the distance with you. Moreover, deep-chested breeds such as Danes and Doberman Pinschers should not exercise right after meals.
During exercise, always watch for signs of dehydration such as excessive panting, confusion, weakness, and collapse, especially in hot or humid climates.
Set Up a Schedule
Excuses for not exercising seem to be the most abundant on the planet. I know that I have a few that I use, so it is good that my dogs keep me on track. It is important to give yourself a daily reminder on your phone or your calendar so that you can stay on schedule.
It turns out that dogs have an innate sense of time (just ask Milo what time he gets his Dentastyx every day). So once you get them on a routine, such as the morning or after-dinner walk, they will start reminding you themselves! What a great fitness partner to have! (Plus they don’t judge).
Keeping Away the Doggie – and People Blues
Walking is one of the best exercises for dogs and people. It is low-impact, easy on joints, helps lower blood pressure, strengthens the heart, lowers the risk of depression, and may reduce common behavior problems in your dog.
Other sports like cycling, rollerblading, and skijoring (your dog is harnessed to you while you ski) require much trust between humans and animals. The dogs need to be properly trained to not pull or tug on the leash as this may cause severe injury to you and your dog.
Our dogs love to be with us, so anytime you can incorporate them into your daily activities instead of leaving them home alone is an excellent way to keep them happy.
Lack of Exercise
A lack of exercise may lead to obesity, and other destructive behaviors such as barking, chewing or digging. Dogs have energy, and it is best to let them expend it in positive, controlled ways. And the more active our dogs are, the more we are inspired to get going just to keep up with them.
Taking your dog to a dog park will help him socialize with other canines. He will get lots of mental stimulation as he freely explores the other dogs, people, sounds and smells at his free will. Dog parks are also a great way for owners to meet up with people of similar interests. Many long lasting friendships have started in the dog park.
Taking your dog for walks around new locations or trying new activities will stimulate their brains with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Obedience training is also a great for mental stimulation. Dogs can get mentally tired just like people, so keep this in mind when training and limit sessions to under an hour.
Food puzzles such as Kong balls will stimulate your dog’s brain and give them exercise as they roll the ball around trying to get the treats to fall out. Other toys such as the iFetch will keep your dog busy as he learns to drop the ball in the chute and watch as it throws it back out.
Bonding with your Dog on Outings
Goal-oriented sports such as playing fetch with your dog, kicking around the soccer ball or throwing a Frisbee will all contribute to the human-dog bond.
Another great way to bond with your dog is to do agility training together. This requires you and your dog to work together side by side to get through the course. Your dog listens to your encouragement and praise for successful maneuvers, and since their primary goal in life is to please you and make you happy-the bond is formed!
Doga is yoga with your dog. It incorporates your dog into Hatha yoga poses. Although this is not going to be a great exercise workout for your dog, it does give you a chance to bond with your dog as you get a fantastic workout.
Keeping Fit And Healthy with your Dog
Research suggests that people who exercise with their dogs are more likely to stick with it, so get out there with your pooch and start moving. And just like with our own exercise programs the best dog exercise routine is the one we do consistently.
With so many choices available including dancing, swimming, jogging, hiking, and fetching, there is no reason to forego all the benefits and the fun. For more exercises for dogs, enjoy this video from renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell.
VIDEO: Exercising Your Dog
Teacher’s Pet With Victoria Stilwell
Victoria Stilwell shares tips on how best to exercise your dog. Providing your dog with regular exercise improves physical and emotional well-being. It’s best to exercise your dog every morning for at least one hour, adjusting the duration based on the dog’s age and physical condition.
In Teacher’s Pet, Victoria Stilwell shows you how to employ her Positively Method to train your dog the right way, growing your level of communication to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
Have a question for Victoria? She’ll be checking in regularly, so be sure to leave your comments and questions below.
Victoria Stilwell is widely known as a dog trainer, author, and television presenter. Stilwell served as a judge on the CBS show Greatest American Dog and is best known as the host of the Animal Planet dog training TV show It’s Me or the Dog, where she counsels families with problem pets and solves their dogs’ behavior problems. In 2010, she launched Positively, the world’s first global network of hand-picked world-class dog trainers dedicated to providing the public a brand name they can trust in humane, force-free training.
Find a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer: http://positively.com/trainers
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