Through the years dogs have evolved from wild animals. In their natural habitat, they hunted and scavenged for food, played and interacted in packs, and defended their territories from outsiders. These dogs were natural workers, living busy lives. As a result, they naturally got all the exercise their bodies needed to stay healthy and fit.
Life is different now, for dogs and people. Our lives have become less physically demanding and more sedentary, and our dogs’ lives have changed to mirror our own.
Today’s dogs have a much different lifestyle. There’s no longer any need for dogs to hunt because we provide food every day for our loving companions. When we go off to work, our dogs spend most of their waking hours home alone and inactive. When we come home our dogs are excited to see us and raring to go. They want to spend time playing with us, but we’ve already had a challenging day and all we want to do is relax.
Is your dog a couch potato?
When your dog’s opportunities for active play become limited, the results can be bad for both you and your dog.
Inactive dogs can easily become overweight, leading to a variety of health issues including arthritis, diabetes, respiratory disease, and heart disease.
Dogs that have been given no outlet for their energy will ultimately find ways to entertain themselves – and more often than not the results are not good. Idol dogs with no sense of purpose and no outlet for their active minds and bodies often develop behavioral problems like:
- Getting into the garbage
- Destructive chewing, scratching, or digging
- Barking and whining
One of your most important daily jobs is to provide healthy outlets for your dog’s curious mind and pent-up energy. It’s important to spend quality time interacting with your dog every day. Not only will it keep your dog healthy and happy, it will also strengthen your relationship.
There are many fun ways to keep your dog active. Dogs love to fetch, swim, and play tug-of-war. Make sure your dog also gets to run around each day and go for a nice long walk.
How much exercise does your dog need?
The younger the dog, the more exercise your canine pal will need. Puppies seem to go non-stop while senior dogs may need some encouragement to get moving. Most dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. As a rule of thumb, your dog needs enough exercise so that he has slowed down by the time you stop. Older dogs, arthritic dogs, and overweight dogs still need to move to stay healthy. If your dog can’t tolerate a 30-minute walk, take him on shorter walks several times a day.
Healthy activity exercises both the body and the mind. Dogs are as smart as young children. If you don’t provide some healthy diversions to keep them busy they will come up with something on their own – and just like kids, when left to their own devices, dogs often get into trouble.
A good toy is worth its weight in gold, especially if it keeps your dog actively engaged while you’re gone. Invest in a good puzzle toy that rewards your dog with a treat when he solves the puzzle. Your dog will enjoy the challenge and it will sharpen his problem-solving skills.
Since our dogs spend most of their time cooped up in the house, it’s up to us to make sure our dogs get the daily exercise and play they need to stay healthy. Exercise has a wealth of benefits, including:
- Keeping your dog healthy and fit
- Controlling your dog’s weight
- Reducing behavior problems
- Keeping your dog happy
- Keeping dogs agile and limber
- Reducing digestive issues
So make sure your dog gets all the healthy exercise he needs. Not only will it keep your dog happy and healthy, it will allow you to spend more quality time together, so everybody wins!