Keeping Fit – The PetSitters Way
Time and again, it has been proven that a tired dog is calmer, better behaved, more focus and healthier. Every dog breed has an inherent need to perform a certain task. Beagles were used to help with hunting, hounds to help with tracking and labradors with waterfowling. Without a task to do, not only does the dog get bored, but is also unable to fulfil his potential. Although exercise needs vary from breed to breed and age to age, exercise must be an inalienable part of the dog’s day.
WHY PHYSICAL STIMULATION?
Exercise is for every dog. For dogs that are super-enthusiastic, exercise releases endorphins and oxytocin (hormones) which gets them tired and calms them down. For dogs that coming out of their prime age, it strengthens muscles, bones and joints and helps all systems function smoothly. For a dog that’s always ready to eat and gets chubby quickly, it helps with weight management. And for a dog that loves a challenge, it stimulates the mind.
Top-notch health is synonymous with regular and sufficient exercise. A tired dog is less prone to behavioural issues. A strong skeletal system prevents arthritis in senior dogs. Well-exercised dogs are at a lesser chance of obesity. A mentally stimulated dog is less nervous and more trainable.
5 EASY EXERCISES
Exercise doesn’t always need to mean something excessive, complex and/or elaborate. It can be easy and fun for both the dog and the human(s). Here are a few exercises you can try out:
- Leash Walking
A walk with your dog is the best type of walk you can take. It’s the most common form of exercise and gets you some quality time with the dog. The advantage – dog walk at your pace and you control where he goes.
- Off-leash running
Which dog doesn’t love to run around? If you have a free space like a terrace or a lawn where your dog is allowed, you can set him off-leash and have him run around to his heart’s content. It makes them happy and as a bonus, files their nails naturally.
It is a game that comes most naturally to dogs as if they were born to do it. Just toss his favourite toy and watch him run. Plating fetch stimulates the dog’s mind and allows him to learn social skills as to what to pick up, who to meet, etc.
Another activity that comes to dogs organically and one that they absolutely enjoy. Swimming has no age barriers, is a non-impact full-body exercise that tones up muscles and helps with weight control. You can do it at a pet-pool or at a local water-body near your home if dogs are permitted. To make it better, join your dog at it.
- Hills and Stairs
Running up and down a hill is the most natural way to provide the most impact during exercise. It easily exhausts the dog’s energy and also provides olfactory stimulation. Have your dog play fetch or simply run up and down the stairs but only if he doesn’t have any joint issues.
Note: If you’re performing any of these activities in an area that isn’t enclosed or has several other humans and/or dogs, make sure that your dog obeys commands a 100% of the times.
10 ADVANTAGES OF PHYSICAL STIMULATION
- Longer Lifespan
By providing stimulation at the cellular level, regular exercise boosts regenerative and repair capacity of the body. This improves longevity and slows ageing.
- Detox for dogs
The physical movement of muscles helps in effective circulation of fluids across the body and therefore better removal of toxins.
- Heightened Senses
With better circulation, more blood reaches the nose and ears. This in turns heightens the senses and helps dogs pick up even the mildest of sounds or scents.
- Better skin
Improved circulation and cellular stimulation reduce the sensitivity and reaction to allergens. This helps prevent skin infection and promotes a good coat.
- Weight Control
Exercise elevates metabolism thereby burning more calories. Combined with a proper diet, exercise helps manage weight efficiently.
- Improved Behaviour
Physical stimulation promotes faster growth of the cells of the hippocampus – an area of the brain associated with learning and memory. This helps with the dog’s training and results in a better-behaved dog.
- Brain Development
Exercise promotes more neural connections and makes them less prone to distractions, therefore improving the dog’s problem-solving abilities.
- Strengthens Skeletal System
By strengthening the muscles and tendons around joints, exercise alleviates the weight on them and makes them less prone to arthritis which is commonly seen in senior dogs.
- Boosts Immunity
With enhanced regeneration and repair capabilities, the immune system is fortified against infections. Exercise tires the dog out and he worries less. The happier the dog, the stronger the immunity.
- Strengthens Bond
Dogs are pack animals and need a social connect. Perform activities together, increases the trust several-fold and cements the bond.
With endless benefits and several ways of exercising your dog, there’s no reason to not get those four legs moving and tail wagging. Few minutes a day can go a long way in giving you a healthier, calmer, sharper and more obedient dog. Here’s hoping you have fun exercising with your dog.
Note: If the rains aren’t permitting you to step outside, or if your dog has his physical limitations due a medical condition, read our blog on Mental Stimulation.
If you need the exercises to be indoors, you can find a few in our blog post All work & no play, makes Jack a Dull Boy.