There was a time when dogs worked for a living. Whether herding sheep, hunting, or providing protection, they led active, practical lives. Unfortunately, today it’s a different story and many dogs are overly pampered; leading sedentary, uninteresting lives, they lie around the house all day waiting for their owner to return from work in the evening. Not only are they bored and under-stimulated. They’re unhealthy too. Let’s consider why we should be keeping our dogs exercised and in good shape:
- One alarming factoid relating to dogs is their rate of obesity. Between 20% and 40% of dogs seen by veterinarians in the United States are considered overweight, and many of them are diagnosed as obese. It seems we are subjecting man’s best friend to a life of joining us on the couch in front of the TV instead of getting ourselves, and our dogs out in the fresh air for a good long walk or play time.
- It’s no good letting Murphy out into your nicely fenced in yard and expecting him to exercise himself. He’s not going to run laps! It’s more than just exercise to a dog – it is an opportunity for social interaction and bonding time with their human. So get your shoes on, grab the leash and take him for a nice long walk – 30 minutes at the very least.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, muscle tone and stamina is very important for canine well-being. Doggie obesity can lead to a host of health problems including arthritis, heart problems, and even increased risk for cancer, to name a few. Basically many of the same diseases that plague humans who are obese.
- Bored dogs are naughty dogs. You will find them using destructive behaviors such as digging, scratching and chewing where they shouldn’t. They will be getting into the garbage, acting hyper, knocking furniture over, and being overly aggressive in their play. If they can’t get your attention, they will bark and whine until they do. A well-exercised, active dog is usually a content, well-behaved dog.
- Exercising with your pooch helps her to sleep well at night time. Instead of being restless at bedtime when you’re trying to settle down for the night, she will relax after her vigorous exercise.
- For timid or fearful dogs, exercise can help build confidence and trust.
- Going out for a walk is an opportunity for your dog to be social and interact with other dogs and humans.
Although there are definite advantages to exercising your dog, it is important to know her limitations. Be aware that you can over-exercise your dog. For example, sustained running is not recommended for a dog younger than 18 months, whose bones haven’t finished growing.
Also, avoid hot pavement or sand when walking your dog, so that he doesn’t burn the pads of his feet. Be aware of high temperatures and humidity for the sake of your dog as well as yourself and always have a water source available with you to give him (and yourself) a drink.
Many people who won’t go for a walk for the sake of their own health will do so for their dog. For these individuals, owning a dog is one of the great blessings of their lives, and they are reaping the benefits from it daily.
So grab your dog’s leash, say the magic word “walk,” and head for the door as she bounds ahead of you. It’s time to reap some more!