January is National Walk Your Pet Month. With busy holidays, workdays, and active families with kids, a lot of the time, the family dogs don’t get to go on regular walks. It’s no big deal, right? While a little break from exercise is OK once or twice a week, any more than that can start to cause some adverse effects on your pup’s health. Some people assume that dogs don’t need as much exercise as people, but that is incorrect!
Let’s discuss how getting into a routine of walking your dog can have significant health benefits for them. Here are 7 different reasons why its important to have a good exercise routine for your pup.
Exercise Relieves Mental Stress
When it comes to exercising regularly, I sometimes can be lazy. If it’s “too cold” or “too hot” outside, or even rainy or windy, I will sometimes find a lame excuse as to why I won’t go outside and get my exercise that day. Inevitably, after a few days of going without regular activity, I can feel my overall mood start to drop a little. There is something about that positive feeling you get after you accomplished a good workout. Studies show that exercise boosts your endorphin levels (the feel-good hormone) in your body. The same is true for dogs!
Exercise Relieves Excess Energy and Improves Boredom and Behavioral Issues
Regular exercise will help blow off some extra energy in your pup, making them less likely to have behavioral issues. Dogs that don’t have a proper outlet for releasing excess energy could start to develop behavioral habits arising from boredom and anxiety. These behaviors can include;
- Chewing, digging, and other destructive behaviors,
- Excess barking and whining,
- Inappropriate marking of things,
- Obsessively scratching and biting themselves, and
- Even being overly energetic, and impossible to settle down.
The Leg Lifter
A few years ago, one of my pugs started lifting his leg in the house. After making several different household changes with no improvement in my dog’s behavior, I finally consulted a dog trainer. The trainer recommended I walk my dog daily, even if it’s just for 10 minutes around the block. Throughout the regular walks, I noticed that he would frequently urinate on things. Furthermore, I saw that he would never wholly empty his bladder all in one spot.
The trainer went on to explain that some male dogs have the desire to mark everything in their environment, both for dominance reasons and out of boredom. She concluded that if I am regularly exercising my dog, he likely will have less of a desire and the physical ability to do this behavior in the house. Now that my dog is on a regular exercise schedule, he never lifts his leg on anything in the house.
Exercise Helps Promote A Healthy Digestive System
Routine exercise helps stimulate regular urinary and bowel movements, therefore boosting your dog’s gastrointestinal system. With your dog being stimulated to flush out their system regularly, they are reducing the opportunity for harmful bacteria growth. Therefore, exercise plays its part in reducing the risk of unpleasant health issues, such as urinary tract infections and constipation.
Regular Exercise Helps Reduce the Risk of Disease
We already discussed how routine exercise has positive effects on your dog’s gastrointestinal system and bathroom habits. Regular exercise also helps keep the rest of the body moving and allowing for the proper circulatory processes to happen. Therefore, adequate amounts of activity can help reduce the risk of your dog getting certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and even some types of cancers.
Regular Exercise Helps Keep Your Dog in Shape
It is estimated that 58% of the pet population is considered overweight or obese. Regular exercise helps to keep your dog moving and burning calories, which will help them maintain a healthy weight.
Spending Quality Time with Your Dog
Like humans, dogs are naturally very social creatures and crave some quality time with the people they love. Walking your dog allows you to spend some quality time with them. It will also strengthen your bond with your dog by giving you the chance to work with them on their obedience and learning new skills.
Dogs are great Motivators!
Establishing a regular walking routine with your dog helps encourage both of you to stay in shape. Your dog will keep you on schedule and look forward to spending time with you while exploring the environment. You both will get to reap the benefits of staying active and social. Plus, you will have a regular exercise buddy, so you won’t have to do it alone!
So, What Exactly is Considered “Regular” Exercise?
The amount of exercise your dog needs depends on various factors, including their age, breed, and other physical characteristics. A chihuahua is not going to necessarily need to jog 5 miles a day. However, a husky would consider that a warm-up! Veterinarians recommend as much regular exercise as possible if your pet is overall in good health. If your pet has a disease or is overweight, it is a good idea to discuss their health issues with a veterinarian before starting a regular exercise routine.
Get Some Help With Setting Goals
If you find that you are not able to spend as much time as you would like with exercising your dog, get help from a roommate or family member, or even hire a dog walker. Like with us, Taking the time to ensure your dog gets regular exercise will make a significant impact on their overall health and temperament. So, with the new year, I encourage you and your loved ones to get out there and set some exercise routines for yourselves and your dogs. Remember to take the time to enjoy the small things in life!