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Simple Exercises to Keep You and Your Dog Healthy

by Ryan on August 21, 2014

in Pet Health

If you are tired of having your dog chew up your shoes, dig up your favorite plants, scratch your expensive furniture, raid the garbage bin, or whine or bark all the time, it probably just needs something constructive to do.

Dogs are very energetic animals and if they don’t find an appropriate outlet for this energy, they will resort to ways that might not go down well with their owners. Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian and an assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Kansas State University says, “Dogs need an outlet to relieve their pent-up energy. A dog receiving adequate exercise will be happy and content, and won’t develop destructive behavior.”

Dogs are meant to live active lives running freely in the wild, hunting for their food, and playing with each other. Considering this fact, many dog owners just let their pooch out in the backyard or garden for a free run assuming their pet will get the exercise it needs. But dogs don’t exercise that way. Domesticated dogs need human interaction and encouragement to run about and get their daily dose of exercise.

You only need to find interesting ways to exercise with your dog. Not only will that keep your dog happy, but you’ll benefit from good health too. Here are some activities that you and your pooch can indulge in together.

Brisk Walking/Jogging/Cycling

Walking and jogging are the easiest ways to keep your dog and yourself fit. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking five times per week can help keep your dog in good shape. Start with a ten-minute walk and increase the duration gradually if your dog is old, overweight, or has any other health-related problem.

Dogs aren’t suited to running or jogging long distances at a stretch. So if you do take your pooch jogging with you, stop at regular intervals so as to not tire it out. The same goes for cycling; while you may be on wheels, your dog will be running along to keep up with you. Dogs also heat up quickly as they do not have sweat glands. You will have to keep an eye on your dog for signs that tell your pal is being over-worked.

Whether you go walking, jogging, or cycling, keep your dog on the leash. While these exercises are relatively simple, they can get quite difficult if your dog isn’t trained to walk on a leash. If you don’t want to be hauled against the sidewalk while cycling with your dog, ensure that your dog is well-trained.

Engage in Games

On days when you don’t want to go out, a little game of throw will be great to elevate your dog’s pulse. Toss a branch or a Frisbee and have your pet catch it in its mouth before the object hits the ground. Of course, this won’t do any good to you as you’ll just be sitting or standing in one place.

You can also set up a simple agility course in the backyard. Hesitant pets can be encouraged with treats. If the course involves having your pet jump from heights, make sure the ground is not too harsh for your dog’s paws. You don’t want your pooch to have sore feet. You can consider calling up a synthetic grass company to get your backyard fitted with artificial turf. Artificial grass will be easy on your dog’s paws and your dog won’t be able to dig up the grass either.

You can also take you dog to a park if your backyard isn’t big enough. Your dog might like to play with other animals at the park. Just make sure your dog has got all its vaccinations right.

Swimming

Swimming is a great form of exercise not only for humans but for their furry friends too. Swimming exercises all the muscle groups in the body and is especially beneficial to people and dogs that have arthritis. The exercise also strengthens the heart and lungs, and improves endurance.

Of course, your dog needs to enjoy swimming in the first place. Also remember that not all dogs are natural swimmers. Your pooch might need some persuasion to get into the water. Never force your dog into the water. Start small by wading in shallow water. You can make use of a dog vest if required. If you have a young pup, introducing it to water as early as possible will make it a confident swimmer as it grows up.

Never leave your dog unattended in deep water. If you are swimming in a pool, train your dog to get out of the pool by using the steps or the ramp.

Dogs love the outdoors. If there’s an adventure trail you have been looking forward to hit, go ahead with your plans and take your dog along. Again, start with a shorter trail first and take to longer trails gradually.

Allow your dog to stop and sniff at things along the trail. Keep a slightly quicker pace than normal when you walk to elevate the pulse and get the exercise you and your dog need.

Conclusion

Before you start any rigorous training, consult your dog’s vet so you don’t end up doing more harm than good. Younger dogs could easily injure bones and ligaments from exercising too much. You need to know if your dog is ready to exercise, how much exercise is enough for it, or if it is unfit for strenuous exercise.

Rather than looking at exercising your dog as a chore, consider it to be an excuse to stay fit. Dogs can make you want to exercise by their contagious excitement. Moreover, while a gym buddy might stand you up any day, a dog will never refuse to exercise with you.

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