Let’s face it…we have to make a concerted effort to get the proper amount of exercise. It’s so easy to get lazy and complacent, isn’t it? And guess what? Our pets like to hang out on the couch in front of the TV as much as we do. It takes some self-discipline to get moving, but there is no better time than now! It’s the beginning of the year and we are poised for our new year’s resolution of getting in shape!
Dogs who do not get adequate exercise are often overweight. That excess weight is the cause of many other health issues: Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, respiratory disease, and joint problems, to name a few. Dogs need exercise not only to remain fit physically, but there is a strong mental link to keeping them active as well. It’s up to you to make the difference in their short life. Will they enjoy an active, joyful life, or one burdened with health problems, boredom, and often pain?
Where to start with Exercise
If you look at nearly any website or magazine promoting health and fitness, the number one recommendation for getting in shape is walking. And the best part is, walking is good for all shapes and sizes, all ages and nearly all health conditions. Walking will not only help eliminate excess weight but getting that heart pumping results in better digestion, agility, relaxation…benefiting nearly every bodily function. We are not referring to “business” walks, but walking specifically for exercise… taking your dog for a potty walk is not the same as walking for fitness.Start slowly and gradually increase the length of your walks based on your dog’s ability. Work on reaching and maintaining a brisk, healthy pace.
Can it really be so simple? Yes… and no….
Is Walking Enough Exercise for Dogs?
Although walking is so very necessary, for many dogs getting in shape requires a more rigorous form of exercise. Your healthy two-year-old lab, for example, needs more than a 15-minute walk to satisfy his fundamental demand for exercise. Adding a rigorous game of fetch or frisbee is not only a physical plus but is super fun too!
Here are some other ideas for getting your dog the best exercise possible, in addition to his daily walks:
Organized Activity to Help Keep Dogs Healthy
A few of our pack members actively participate in Agility with their dogs. Agility is great exercise – for your pup and you! Quickly leading your dog through, under, and over various obstacles strengthens your dog’s muscles, challenges his mind, and increases his endurance.
Remember those relay races from grade school? Fly Ball is a relay race for dogs and another excellent way of getting exercise for your dog. As in agility, Fly Ball is great for your dog mentally and physically.
Our Trainer, Amanda, is active with Dock Dogs. Dock Dogs is an aquatic competition for dogs requiring leaping, speed, and endurance. There are many health benefits to the swimming, jumping and adrenaline boosting energy this sport provides.
And,of course, our doggie daycare in Richmond, VA is always full of organized activities to help make sure you’re dog has a full day of exercise.
Inherent Activity Can Be Good Exercise for Dogs
Your dog’s particular breed and inclination is a strong clue as to the type of exercise he will enjoy.
Retrievers, particularly, love swimming, and swimming is great exercise. It is also a suitable exercise for aging or frail dogs who require a lower-impact type of exercise.
Tracking is a sport for dogs that harnesses their natural ability to follow the scent and can be optimized for your particular dog’s fitness level. Start with tracking a scent within the confines of your own home, and then head outside to cover a much larger terrain. Pointers, hounds, and shepherds are natural scent trackers.
Likewise, your dog may be a hunter at heart. That lazy-acting little beagle may show you another side altogether when you take her on a trek through the woods. Hunting does not have to end in the killing of prey, but rather the thrill of the hunt itself.
Does My Dog Need A Lot of Excerise?
WebMD recommends we spend 30 minutes to two hours on some type of activity every day. This time span is based on the dog’s age, health, breed, and current exercise routine.
Before implementing any exercise program for your dog, a checkup and consultation with your veterinarian is highly recommended. Your Vet will advise you of the proper amount of time to spend exercising with your dog, proportionate to his individual ability and fitness level.
With commitment comes great rewards, and with your commitment to getting the right exercise for your dog, you have racked-up two rewards! One, while making sure your dog has adequate exercise, you are getting in shape yourself! Secondly, the bond with your dog becomes increasingly stronger with every minute you spend playing and exercising with him. It’s a win-win!