Whether a puppy or a senior dog, exercise has a calming effect on dogs. I'll admit that it works both ways because when I get back from outdoor exercise with my dog, I'm more calm. It's true even now with my senior dog. We may go at a slow pace together but that time outdoors breathing fresh air, sometimes pausing to briefly visit with a neighbor, has a positive influence over me.
There are different forms of exercise, all are beneficial at every stage.
How much exercise? You'll want to consider your dog's breed(s), age and health. Generally, we stick to 30 to 60 minutes a day. The key is don't over-exert your dog whatever game or form of exercise you choose.
What kind of exercise? Consider whatever is fun for both of you! Fetch, chase, hide-and-seek, jogging are all great ideas. Maybe your dog likes to swim or you like to bike? The important point is they have fun, you have fun, but within the guidelines of staying safe. An older dog can benefit from a slow walk. Even a puzzle toy or a puzzle feeder filled with treats is great indoor exercise.
As the ASPCA suggests, besides having a calming influence on your dog, exercise
- Helps to reduce or eliminate the common behavior problems such as digging, excessive barking, chewing and hyperactivity
- Helps to keep dogs healthy, agile and limber
- Helps to reduce digestive problems and constipation
- Helps timid or fearful dogs build confidence and trust
- Helps to keep dogs’ weight under control
Remember it is the interaction and playtime you both have together that is key, and is what becomes a form of exercise. Your bond strengthens and you both benefit from the social interaction. Unless your lifestyle lends itself to giving your dog a reason to perform jobs and work, they need us to give them opportunities to get busy.
With the new year arriving this week, it's a good time to consider new ways of exercising with our dogs.
Remember to check with your dog’s veterinarian before starting an exercise program. Your veterinarian can check your dog for any health issues that may be aggravated by exercise and suggest safe activities.
Do you exercise regularly with your dog? Have you found any direct benefits? Has your ideas of exercise changed as your dog has gotten older? I'd love to read your feedback in the comments!