Exercising your dog
3 Tips to Help You and Your Dog Get Fit
Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise to maintain their optimal physical and mental well-being, and without it they may become unhappy and difficult. To maintain a happy pooch, it is essential to match your capacity/availability for exercise to the energy needs of the dog you choose. In doing so, the two of you can then enjoy the benefits of exercising, which are quite similar for both humans and dogs. Daily activity and regular exercise can be a good defence against anxiety, help slow the ageing process, help stimulate their minds, and promote a healthy bond for you and your pet. Here are some tips on how you can help your pup get fit.
Combine Training and Exercise
Traditionally, dog-training classes focus on basic exercises and commands like, sit, stay, come, and heel, and these are vital commands for your dog to master. However, teaching your dog new tricks can be a great way for you and Fido to bond, especially if you consider turning it into an exercise opportunity for you both.
Dr. Sophia Yin (via Pet Health Network) offers a series of exercises that combine training and play sessions for you and your dog. Namely, she teaches you how to work the down-stay into your exercise routine so you’re able to exercise while your dog is rewarded for staying still. Alternating the down-stay command with teaching your dog to fetch while you exercise and reward him on the return allows you both to get your heart rates up. The key to a successful training regime is learning to reward desired behaviour with positive reinforcement. Here’s a comprehensive list of dog treats to consider for your training.
Take a Walk
A sedentary dog can quickly become an overweight one, and that brings all sorts of health risks along with it. According to Positively.com, “walking has many benefits for both humans and dogs. Studies have shown that for overweight people/dogs, a 30-minute walk, three times per week can reduce blood pressure, increase energy, improve sense of well-being, and lower your weight by 5% and your dogs by 15%.” If you’re starting with a new puppy, it is important to make sure your dog is comfortable in a collar indoors and on a leash before you head outdoors. Choosing the right leash and collar combo doesn’t have to feel daunting, but finding a leash that is comfortable for your pup and easy for you to use will enhance your outside time with your dog.
Once you’ve mastered short walks with your pup, you might try swinging by the neighbourhood dog park for some off-leash frolicking. However, it’s important to note that owners should stay alert at all times and watch for signs of aggressiveness (other dogs or your dog). While your puppy is getting accustomed to outdoor social play, you want to be quite present in case a fight breaks out.
Make Activity a Game
Finding an exercise that feels more fun than work for you and your pup may ensure you’ll continue regular exercise with one another. Making exercise a game can be rewarding for you both. Some fun games to try are hide-and-seek, whereby you have your dog down-stay while you hide random treats around your house (or outside in your yard) for your puppy to find once he’s released. Hide-and-seek allows your puppy to use his or her natural scent-tracking abilities. Consider creating an agility course for your pup where they can jump, work their way through tunnels, cross a teeter board, and stop at a pause table. An agility course exercises your dog’s body, stimulates their mind, provides a great activity for you to bond over.
Helping your dog get fit and continuing regular exercise benefits both dog and owner greatly. Not only does exercise provide health benefits for your minds and bodies, but it will also allow you to create a special bond between you and your pet that is immeasurable.