Just like people, dogs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and a happy disposition. Although certain breeds need more exercise than others, all dogs benefit from regular walks and playtime. The risks of letting your dog live a sedentary lifestyle include destructive behaviors as well as weight gain. As a result, making exercise a regular part of your dog’s lifestyle will make you and your dog much happier.
The Consequences of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Your dog, if not properly exercised, will definitely find a way to occupy his time. Whether that’s chewing on your furniture, jumping up on unsuspecting guests or digging up your rose garden, depends on your dog. You might also notice aggressive behaviors such as too-rough play, attention-seeking barking or whining, or simply exploring the garbage to discover the source of that fascinating smell. Keep in mind, you have a variety of interests and activities to keep you engaged in the world outside your home — your dog, on the other hand, has only you. Spend more time actively playing with your dog, and you’ll reap the rewards dog lovers crave.
How to Exercise Your Dog
Certain dogs, such as retrievers, pointers and other active breeds, need at least an hour of exercise per day to assure better behavior indoors. Regular walks, vigorous games of fetch in the backyard, tug-of-war, and swimming are great ways to keep your dog active and happy. Running and jogging outdoors and on the treadmill are effective, too; however, avoid prolonged jogging in pets that aren’t fully grown. Also, remember your dog needs mental stimulation. Games that don’t end in huffing and puffing can take the place of physical activity, especially on days where the weather doesn’t cooperate. Obedience training, chew toys, indoor fetch using a soft toy, and hide-and-seek with treats are examples of indoor exercise choices that work the body and the mind at the same time.
When your baby is awake and your dog is behaving sweetly, reward him. Take your baby and dog for walks together. Avoid playing with your dog during naptime, as you want him to associate happy times with wakeful periods — not the other way around. Finally, don’t forget to encourage good behavior with treats, praise and extra love.
Keeping Your Dog Safe During Playtime
Although you may bring a dog home anticipating long morning jogs together, canines are actually built for intense but short bursts of speed instead of continuous, steady runs. Puppies and young dogs are not appropriate companions for long runs, because their bones are not yet strong enough to tolerate the steady pounding that running long distances entails. Only take a healthy adult dog that’s suited for jogging out on the road, such as a pointer or retriever. Smaller breeds that are bred for companionship, such as a Shih Tzu, require less vigorous exercise. Regardless of the breed, however, a wireless dog fence will protect your pet from leaving your property and wandering into the road or other unsafe environment during times of outdoor play.
Finally, avoid skating and biking with your dog, particularly when leashed. Everything from squirrels and other dogs to scents might cause your dog to forget himself and pull suddenly to the side. In general, it will take some time to train your dog to stay focused on moving as you jog alongside him; as always, giving treats and copious praise when warranted is a great way to encourage your dog to exercise with you happily and safely.