Keep Slim, Fit’n Move It!

Maximize your dog’s health, happiness, and longevity with tailored exercise routines. Find tips for physical and mental stimulation here!

Keep Slim, Fit’n Move It!

A tired dog is good!

Every dog is different. Before beginning an exercise program, be sure your dog is in good health – get your veterinarian’s approval before drastically changing your dog’s routine.

Factors to consider are breed, age, weight, physical characteristics (such as short “pushed-in” muzzles), and weather conditions.

Some dogs need daily walks, while others need more intense workouts. Your dog should get aerobic exercise at least three times a week—enough exercise to make them pant. Just because your dog is outside does not mean they are getting enough exercise.

Benefits of regular exercising for you and your dog?

  • Health: As with humans, daily exercise provides your dog’s body with various health benefits, including improved metabolism and digestion, enhanced immunity to ward off illness, increased bone and muscle density and overall strength, and maximized cardiovascular function.
  • Energy: Daily walks or play sessions are a great way to energize a lethargic and overweight dog, giving them a much-needed spring in their step.
  • Temperament: Regular exercise reduces anxiety. High-strung, hyperactive, or aggressive dogs are often quite calm and relaxed after a good day’s workout.
  • Sleep: Want a good night’s sleep? So does your pet. Daily exercise can greatly improve the quality of overnight slumber for both of you.
  • Socialization: Your new puppy, adopted pet, and timid dog will especially benefit from daily playful interaction with other humans and pets.
  • Happiness: If exercised daily, your dog will often thrive on—and return—the love and attention they receive from you and their furry buddies.
  • Longevity: Daily exercise is one way to increase your dog’s life span. The health benefits can help your dog live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

Some methods of exercise for your dog

  • Walking: Whether you walk with a short or flexible leash, just use common sense. Do not allow your dog to invade another dog’s space or run into the street. (If you walk your dog in a congested area, please use a regular leash for safety instead of a flexible one.) Allow your dog some sniffing time, then move out briskly.
  • Running: If you can find a safe fenced-in field to let your dog run off-leash, that is ideal since the dog can set their own pace and stop when they are tired; they have the mental stimulation of sniffing to their heart’s content. If you jog with your dog on a leash, pay attention and do not go too far until they are in good condition.
  • Swimming: Swimming is an excellent exercise for dogs with joint problems since it is non-weight-bearing.
  • Fetching: Throwing a tennis ball or other toy for the dog to fetch is fun. You can use a tennis racquet to increase the distance the ball and your dog travels. If the dog is in good condition, throw the ball uphill. In the house, you can throw the ball up the stairs.
  • Jumping: Most dogs love to jump. You can make your own jumps from materials you have around the house. Try using cardboard boxes for small dogs– you can do this in the house. Try luring the dog with treats, and start with very low jumps of just a few inches. As a general rule, it is best to keep the jump heights at the level of the dog’s elbow so as not to cause stress. All jumping must be done off leash, and never force the dog. If the dog refuses to jump, it might reflect a physical problem.
  • Frisbee: Many dogs love playing Frisbee, which can be good exercise. But be careful to keep your throws low to the ground. Dogs have been injured from leaping in the air to catch a frisbee. You do not want to stress a puppy by playing this game when they are too young- check with your veterinarian. Buy a soft Frisbee specially made for dogs to avoid accidentally chipping teeth.
  • Canine Exercise Balls: Also called “Boomer Balls,” resemble bowling balls. They come in different sizes and are made of virtually indestructible hard plastic. Big dogs such as Labs and Rottweilers love to play with these, using their feet to play “soccer” with you!
  • Canine Sports: Any breed can do agility, flyball, obedience, or tracking. Some organizations are also open to mixed breeds. Breed-specific activities are herding, lure coursing, hunt tests, and go-to-ground trials.
  • After a session of strenuous exercise, wind down by gently massaging your dog.

Mental Exercise

Your dog needs mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Many dogs get into trouble when bored and have no suitable outlets.

  • Hide a toy, dog biscuit, or even a person, and let the dog hunt until he finds it.
  • Let your dog use their smelling instincts to “forage” in the yard for bits of food. At first, make it easy by dropping a piece or two right under their nose. After they catch on, throw bits into different parts of the yard. If your dog is high-energy, let them forage for their meals instead of eating out of a bowl. Let your dog ‘work’ for their food and burn off some of that energy.

Try this test to see if your dog has gotten enough exercise: Sit down to watch a TV show or read. Is your dog snoozing beside you or chewing on a bone? If so, they probably got enough exercise that day. If they are getting into mischief or bugging you to play, they have not had enough exercise!

Remember – a tired dog is a good dog! And a tired dog has a happy owner!

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