Dogs, like humans, need regular exercise and stimulation to keep them healthy, both physically and mentally. Since dogs crave human companionship, then who better to choose as your exercise partner than your furry canine friend?
Frequent activity positively impacts a dog’s health in many ways, benefiting his muscles, bones, digestion, sleep, circulation, and general attitude. The bond between canine and human also encourages humans to exercise more frequently and lose more weight than most nationally known diet plans. A key reason for the better results is that the dog walkers stayed with the program because of their emotional connection to their dogs.
Tips To Get Started With Some Physical Exercise
Exercise needs vary from dog to dog, depending on the dog’s breed, age, weight, and other factors. Therefore, consult with your vet before starting an exercise program with your dog—and be sure to consult with your own physician about the right program for you.
- Take things slowly at first. Begin with short walks at a slow speed, then gradually increase the time, speed and distance.
- The pads of your dog’s paws will need time to toughen. Begin walking or running with it on soft surfaces such as dirt, sand or grass.
- Avoid exercising your dog immediately before or after it’s eaten. A full stomach may cause digestive upsets. Provide only small amounts of water before and directly after exercise.
Watch The Weather
- Exercise in the cool hours of the morning or late evening.
- Watch for signs of heat stroke.
- Be aware of hot asphalt, which can damage your dog’s paw pads.
No matter how fit your dog; monitor its need to rest.
- Stop the games if your dog seems to be getting overly tired.
- Be sure your dog has access to fresh drinking water. Prevent stomach upset by limiting your dog’s intake if it is panting heavily.
- Remember to clean up after your dog.
Keep Things Interesting With Some Mental Training
Just letting your dog out in the backyard is not enough exercise. Likewise, a brief daily walk may not be enough either. However, you can keep your dog both physically and mentally active on your daily walk by varying how you walk.
- Change the pace. Intermittently walk fast, slow, stop, etc. Your dog will come to see this as a game and will find the activity fun and stimulating.
- Change directions frequently. Go left, then right, turn in front of the dog, reverse direction, etc. Each time you make a change in direction, give a gentle flick of the leash to alert your dog you are about to change direction.
- Give obedience commands as you go. Stop and ask your dog to sit, lie down, etc.
Exercise His Mind
Exercise your dog’s brain, too. Just 15 minutes once or twice a day of teaching basic obedience can tire your dog in a different way.
With some practice, you can establish the leadership required for a satisfying stroll with your dog so you can both reap the benefits of good health, fitness and a happy emotional bond. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!
Vicki and Richard Horowitz are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.dog-training-new-haven-ct.com.