Does Your Dog Need More Exercise?

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Great exercise, dock diving.

Great exercise, dock diving.

Providing your dog with sufficient amounts of exercise is crucial both for weight management and for ensuring a well behaved pet.  We stumbled upon this article on petside.com which can help you evaluate whether or not your dog is getting enough high quality exercise. You can read the full piece here: Evaluating Whether Your Dog Needs More Exercise | Petside

We have seen first hand over the years how all of  our dogs have benefited from consistent and rigorous exercise including:

– Improved fitness

– Healthier weight

– Improved behavior

– Improved mood

That list sounds too good to be true.  But it’s not.  Like humans, dogs require physical activity and regular doses of exercise, including high intensity exercise, can really have an impact on your dog’s health and your relationship with them.  And by the way, if you exercise with your dog you will also experience these benefits as well.

So how do you know if your dog is getting enough exercise?  Petside suggests that some bad behaviors will indicate that the answer is no.

There are several signs that may indicate your dog could use more walks or activity in his day: excessive barking, destructive chewing, hyperactivity, inability to focus during training sessions, pulling on the leash, excessive solicitations for attention and trouble sleeping through the night.

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This article also (correctly) points out that slow walks are not always enough to satisfy a dog’s exercise requirements.

For many dogs, leash walks aren’t sufficient for burning off energy. So if your dog’s typical exercise regime only includes regular walks, it’s probably time to add some off-leash activities. If your dog is well trained to come when called and likes playing with other dogs, look for a local dog run or dog park in your area. Another option? Send your pup to doggie daycare for active, social playtime. If you’re game for exercise too, Rose recommends running with your dog twice a day, but you may notice better behavior after adding just one run.

We particularly recommend running with your dog, as long as you have your vet’s approval to do so (and you are healthy enough yourself).  The higher the intensity the exercise is, the more calories your dog will burn.  Furthermore, high intensity exercise can help your dog feel better (and behave better) because this type of exercise leads to a sort of “runner’s high” in dogs just like it does in humans. (You can read more about this phenomenon by clicking here).

So don’t assume that a 15 minute walk each day is necessarily enough exercise for your dog. While it may be sufficient, depending on their age and breed, odds are that your pet needs a little more.  Want to nip an expanding waist line or improper behavior in the bud?  Get off your butt and workout with your mutt!

 

Tell us your stories!  How did exercise help with your dog’s behavior?  Did it help stop a problem behavior?  Make your dog more receptive to training?

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4 Comments

  1. Luna has had some issues with separation anxiety and can get pretty destructive. In addition to a few other changes, we worked on making sure she got plenty of exercise so she was not bored when she was left alone. We increased the length of our walks and now try to do fun outdoor activities like hiking on the weekends. She is definitely less destructive now!

    We also wrote a post about the importance of exercising before training: Tired and Hungry

    • It sure makes a world of difference doesn’t it? Makes sense – I feel better, more alert, less anxious when I’m exercised – so why wouldn’t our dogs?

  2. One thing I have also noticed with Charlie is that there does need to be enough exercise. But if you can’t get enough physical exercise because of the need for off leash time, possibly in some larger cities, than mental stimulation would be the key. Charlie has become a fan of treat puzzles, and I occasionally feed him through treat puzzles instead of just putting his food in his bowl. Without using this every few days, 5 miles a day wouldn’t be enough to calm him down, but I can usually stick to 3 or 4 if I use the treat puzzle occasionally!
    Chris and Charlie recently posted…what does a dog need for 100 miles? Part 3My Profile

    • Mental stimulation, like that obtained via treat toys and games, can definitely tire a dog out– as Charlie can attest to. Just be careful not to provide too many treats, or else Charlie will need to exercise even more to burn those added calories.

      Another great approach when pressed for time is to use a higher intensity exercise. We wrote about this a few weeks ago:
      http://slimdoggy.com/fit-dog-friday-resistance-training/

      High intensity is harder, burns more calories in a shorter time period, and can actually increase the metabolism post exercise.

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