Dogs require regular exercise to be happy and healthy. Left to his own devices, a dog eagerly explores his environment, spending energy hunting, running and investigating interesting scents. Urban settings offer little opportunity for such activities, and local leash laws often restrict where dogs can run and play. Rural areas offer plenty of room for dogs to roam and explore, but they can also expose your dog to danger, including wildlife and stray dogs. Dogs, therefore, are heavily dependent upon their owners for adequate exercise. As a dog owner, you have several reasons to exercise your dog, ranging from healthy aging to fun and bonding.
Health and Aging
Regular exercise helps your dog maintain a healthy body weight, keeps muscles toned and promotes bone strength. These factors are important at all ages, but especially so for older dogs. Maintaining healthy muscles and bones later in life lowers your dog’s risk of multiple health conditions, including heart problems.
Exercise intensity, of course, needs to reflect your dog’s age. You shouldn’t expect a 10-year-old dog to display the same energy as a puppy. While senior dogs may have less energy, they still need regular exercise.
Healthy Dogs Are Happy Dogs
Dogs who don’t exercise regularly are more likely to be bored or develop behavioral problems. A normally well-behaved dog who suddenly decides to chew up the bathmats may need to burn off energy in a more acceptable manner.
A well-exercised dog is a happy dog. Almost all dogs enjoy playtime, walks and exercise, and many were bred to perform specific tasks. Give your dog the opportunity to practice his skills, either with retrieval, agility training or a good, long run. Your dog will be happier for it (and your bathmats will be safer).
Strengthen the Human-Dog Bond
The bond between humans and dogs stretches back thousands of years, and few other animals have integrated so successfully into human society. Your dog wants nothing more than to be around you and do things with you. Whether you’re out hiking, tossing a stick or playing tug-of-war with a toy, exercise and playtime strengthen your bond with your pet.
Encourage Appropriate Socialization
Exercise and training often go hand-in-hand. When you’re out walking your dog, you’re also reinforcing his ability to remain close, sit when commanded and stay calm on a leash.
You’re also exposing him to other people. A well-socialized dog is less likely to be afraid of new people or act defensively or aggressively. Walking your dog from an early age helps him accept the presence of other people and dogs.
Your Canine Personal Trainer
Exercising with your dog benefits you as well as your pet. No human personal trainer can motivate you quite as much as a happy dog with a leash in his mouth. Studies have actually shown that people who exercise with their dogs are more motivated and exercise with greater regularity than people who exercise alone.
Sometimes dogs just want to be dogs. They want to dig, run, play-wrestle and explore. A fenced yard offers opportunity for dogs to safely play and run. The fence does not need to be a physical one: dogs can be taught to respect a wireless fence’s boundary as well.