Activity Is Key for Great Dog Ownership

by: Jessica Brody, OurBestFriends.pets

A tired dog is a good dog. The benefits of regular exercise are numerous. Without it, your pet can suffer from behavioral issues, obesity, and heart problems. A sedentary human body is not ideal - why would a dog be any different?

Many first-time pet parents don’t fully grasp this concept. Some believe they’ll be able to keep up with a daily exercise routine, but fall behind due to other life commitments. Some new pet owners simply don’t understand their pet’s needs, falsely thinking that it only needs a few minutes of fetch or a quick walk around the block. Before making the plunge into first-time pet ownership, it’s important to do the research and make 100% certain that you can handle your pet’s needs.

How much exercise does my dog need?

Not all dogs are created equal when it comes to activity requirements. It’s important to factor in your dog’s breed, size, age, and overall health when determining how much exercise they should get on a weekly basis.

Dogtime suggests at least 30 minutes of strenuous exercise for active breeds, for instance.

“How much exercise is enough depends on your dog’s age, breed, and health. A 10-month old Irish Terrier puppy is going to need more than a five-year old Whippet … A sight hound needs short bursts of exercise; guarding dogs don’t need as much overall as sporting breeds who like to hunt all day. Even within a breed, the need varies. A highly energetic eight-year-old Golden Retriever could easily need more exercise than a calm three-year old Golden. And geriatric dogs still need to go for walks — just shorter ones than they used to enjoy.”

Research your dog’s specific requirements. And don’t think that just because you have a small dog it doesn’t need exercise. Most smaller pups - even toy breeds - cannot thrive on simple house exercise alone.

How do I exercise my pet?

Anything that gets your dog’s heart rate going counts as exercise, and the difficulty of the exercise determines how much of it they need. For most active breeds, chasing a ball around the house won’t cut it, for instance.

For most pet owners, a leashed walk is the easiest way to exercise their dog. Remember to bring some poop bags and a container with water - especially on hot days. Most experts recommend daily walks, but you should walk your dog at least a few times per week.

Walking isn’t the only way to exercise your dog, however. There are other fun ways to help it get the activity it needs. If you have an obedient dog, try a non-leashed walk. Follow your dog - it can be more fun for it and for you. Dog parks are another way to “take the leash off” if you will - just make sure your dog is comfortable with other dogs before letting it loose.

On cold or rainy days, it’s important to remember that your dog still needs exercise. There are plenty of inventive ways to get your dog moving indoors, such as running it up and down stairs, setting up obstacle courses, or making them perform tasks for rewards.

Take care of your dog, because you never know when they might need to take care of you. Dogs can have a tremendous impact on the mental health of their owners, so give your dog the love he/she deserves.

FOCUS ON WELLNESS

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