Physical and Mental Exercise for Dogs
Being a responsible pet owner requires a holistic approach to their health and wellbeing. Training and exercise are a major contributor to your dog’s health and wellbeing. Their time with you is likely their favourite part of the day so whether it’s spent physically exercising together, playing outside or learning new tricks, this time together strengthens your bond.
How much exercise does my dog need? How far do I take my dog’s training? Can my dog entertain themself? Each dog is an individual so finding the right mental and physical exercise for them will need to be tailored to suit. Finding activities to suit their personality and activity level is a fun exercise. We’ve got a few suggestions for mental and physical exercise to help you on your quest.
Ongoing training with your dog can be so fun and rewarding for both of you. Training is mentally stimulating for your dog, and it strengthens the bond you have.
If you’re lucky enough to be at the puppy stage in your pet parent journey, you will find puppy pre-schools are a plenty as they are usually operated by dog trainers, vet clinics and pet stores. This is a great program for socialisation and basic training. The benefit of going through puppy pre-school with a trainer is that you can usually move on to obedience training with them, and most trainers will come to your home to do some one-on-one training if you require it.
Depending on your dog’s requirements you may work with a training school to do ongoing training, once you know your dog’s strengths and interests, you may develop this routine into a more specialised activity eg agility or fly ball.
If scheduled classes aren’t for you and you’re self-motivated you can check out some training videos at poochesatplay.com or youtube to learn some tricks at home. Everybody loves meeting a dog that can ‘Shake’ or ‘high five’.
Not all dogs require the mental stimulation of extended training programs, and we understand that this won’t fit every lifestyle, but there are other ways to exercise your dog’s brain.
Dogs love to sniff! Setting up foraging hunts in the yard with some treats is an excellent time for dogs. You will also find that there are lots of puzzles and enrichment toys available for pets, you just need to pop in some treats for your dog to sniff out.
Another activity that calls on their natural instincts are bones. A raw meaty bone can be swapped out for a meal to not only help clean your dog’s teeth, but to provide them with mental stimulation. The challenge of ripping meat off a bone and having a bit of a gnaw might seem pretty gross for us humans, but for most dogs this is livin’. If you’re not sure which bones are suitable for your dog, we have a handy guide on bones to help.
Exercising your puppy
While your puppy is very young, their exercise is usually in the form of short bursts of play around the house or yard as well as their training. Don’t underestimate how exhausting metal exercise can be and it’s an important part of your ongoing stimulation for your dog.
It’s important not to encourage long repetitive exercise sessions (like a jog with you for example) for your puppy as they are growing. Depending on their breed, their joint plates won’t fully fuse until 12-24 months and this needs to happen before your dog can join you on a run. This will help prevent skeletal problems like hip dysplasia and arthritis in their older years.
Exercising adult dogs
Adult dogs require around 30-60 minutes of exercise each day. For some active breeds, they will need aerobic exercise daily, which may be for 30 minutes or more. Exercise isn’t just important for health but can help with your dog’s behaviour too. As the saying goes, ‘a tired dog is a good dog’ and a balanced combination of physical and mental exercise will mean you have a good and happy dog.
When it comes to physical exercise, always check the conditions outside, and be sure to bring some water and a collapsible bowl on hot days for water intervals. Avoid walking on the road or footpath when it’s hot as your dog’s paws are sensitive and can easily burn on a hot road. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s too hot for you to comfortably place the back of your hand on the pavement for a long period, then it’s too hot for your dog’s feet.
A tired dog is a happy dog
There are many ways to exercise and stimulate your dog, and it depends on your dog’s individual needs and your lifestyle to determine how you’ll do this. After 20 years in the industry, we can say that a dog who is happily exercised and isn’t bored is much less likely to be destructive or frustrated, which makes for much happier and peaceful life with your dog.
If you love this article, check out Lara Shannon’s The Whole Dog Approach article.
If you’re a new pet parent check out our Complete Guide For Pet Parents.
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