The majority of dog breeds were created to work with humans, doing a job that helps us in some way. A job is second nature for dogs, and something they love to do. Unfortunately, not every herding dog has their own flock of sheep, and many hounds never follow a trail to find the critter at the end of it. However, even couch potato dogs need a certain amount of exercise to help them stay fit and healthy, and there are telltale signs your dog shows that says he wants – and needs – more exercise.
Besides controlling weight, exercise releases a mood altering hormone in the brain called serotonin, which leaves the body with a satisfied “high” in both humans and dogs. Tension and pent-up energy melt away after a workout, whether it’s jogging with their owner, training for a dog sport, or spending quality time playing fetch with their best two-legged friend.
By the time you get home from work, your dog is ready for some action. Imagine his disappointment when you plop down in front of the TV to relax. Dogs that are crated or confined to a small area in the home are especially eager for a romp in the backyard or a brisk walk. Here are some of the ways a dog shows that he needs more exercise:
Racing or pacing through the house
A hyper dog is trying to burn off energy. This kind of excited behavior inside the home is when end tables are knocked over, something gets broken, and people or other pets get run over. The behavior may seem cute when a small dog runs around a room as fast as he can, but he’s telling you he wants more exercise in the only way he can.
Rough play and excited nipping or biting
When a dog doesn’t get adequate exercise, he goes all out, all the time, and can play too aggressively.
Digging, scratching or destructive chewing
A favorite area to dig or scratch inside the house is in front of a doorway, usually the door where you left. If your floor covering has evidence your dog has been digging and scratching while you’re gone, that’s a clue to get him outside for more exercise. Chewed up furniture, pillows or clothing is another sign. A bored and hyper dog home alone can get into trouble when he is locked inside with nothing to do.
Barking and whining for attention
Dogs can only show us what they want, and if the signals are missed some dogs resort to a nagging bark or whine. He might also show other bad behavior like pawing your arm or leg while you watch TV.
How much exercise your dog needs depends on his breed and age. Activities such as training sessions or having your pooch sit before you put down his bowl of CANIDAE dog food, can provide stimulation, but it’s the walk that satisfies his mind and body. For the most part, 30 minutes a day walking or playing with your dog is the minimum amount of time needed to tire out the average canine.
Exercise offers dogs some of the same benefits that it does for us, and then some. It can help reduce digestive issues, keep the body limber and in good shape, build confidence and trust, control weight, produce a satisfying “high” and tire the body out. Walking and playing are also great ways to bond with your pet.
For most dogs, a walk around the neighborhood or on a favorite trail will satisfy his exercise needs. If you want to take your dog jogging or biking with you, have him checked out by your vet first, to make sure he’s ready for vigorous activity and capable of keeping up with you.
Exercise helps your dog stay calm, which in turn wards off behavior problems, especially when he has hours to while away waiting for you to get home. A brisk walk or playtime before you leave the house and when you get home can eliminate the telltale signs that indicate he needs more exercise. Besides, the advantage of being owned by a dog is that he gets you up and moving as well!
Top photo by Andrew Morrell
Bottom photo by paeppi
Read more articles by Linda Cole