Although taking a dog for a walk is a good way for both of you to get some exercise, there are additional reasons to get out of the house for a stroll.
Humans and dogs both react to stressful events in their lives, and also to stressful people. A dog does not always know how to release that stress and anxiety. They also react to your stress and may show it in destructive or odd behavioral ways. No matter how big or small the stress is, it is important to utilize ways to reduce or even eliminate it in healthy ways.
A walk gives both you and the dog a physical and mental outlet for some of the stress. Going out to see and focus on other things besides what is causing stress or anxiety is a healthy way to get your minds and senses on other things for awhile.
When we adopted our shy, fearful pup, we learned that one of the things which would be vital for her is to have a solid routine she could count on that included plenty of exercise. We have done a fairly good job in this area, especially the exercise part, and it has helped her with some of her quirky behavior.
Dogs that are well-adjusted need real exercise too. Access to a large backyard doesn’t count as exercise; most dogs just find a sunny spot where they can lounge. And for some dogs, a few short walks around the block may not be enough. Different dogs do have different exercise needs and as a responsible pet owner, it’s important to know what your dog needs so he can thrive.
Lack of Exercise
If a dog isn’t exercised enough, bad behaviors may arise, including destroying things in your house. Early on, our dog had a penchant for shoes, which was a real drag. We had to remember to keep our closet door shut at all times. I’ve known dogs that have destroyed furniture, and my husband claims he once had a dog that chewed through drywall. Other examples of bad behavior include jumping on people, obsessively begging for attention or asking for playtime, digging, running around and excessively barking. Neurotic tendencies can develop as well, including self-licking or chasing their own tail.
When your dog resorts to behaviors like this, he isn’t trying to annoy you. The destructive behaviors are entertaining to him. He is just releasing pent-up energy that he didn’t have an opportunity to release in a more human-friendly manner.
Channeling an active dog’s energy takes some creative thought. It can be challenging to find a good workout for a dog that seems to never run down. Not everyone has the time or desire to run an agility course or participate in other organized dog sports. The good news is there are indoor and outdoor games you can play with your active dog to help him wind down.
It’s not always possible to take your dog outside to run off energy, especially in winter when the cold and snow keeps everyone inside, except for quick duty calls. My dogs have been suffering from cabin fever because of the frigid temps. Active dogs still need exercise to get rid of excess energy, though. Inside games can give your dog a way to use up some energy while you stimulate his mind with some thinking games. You’ll need his favorite CANIDAE treats, and a space where you and your dog can move around without breaking things.
Who’s Got the Treat?
You need at least two people to play this game, and the more the merrier. Show your dog a treat, then start passing it around from one person to the next while he sits and watches. Show him the treat now and then as he follows it around. Don’t get too carried away or your dog will lose interest. After 7 or 8 passes, ask your dog to find the treat. When he discovers who has it, have him sit, lie down or perform any command he knows and give him the treat. If it’s just you and your dog, hide treats around the house for him to find.
Inside Red Light, Green Light
This game can be played with or without music. Move, dance or jump around, encouraging your dog to join in. At some point, freeze in position and give your dog the sit command. Immediately give a treat for complying, then start the game again. Each time you stop, ask him to sit until you start to move again. Instead of jumping around, you can have him follow you around the room or house, walking up and down steps, or anywhere inside or outside until you stop. Treat when he sits, then continue the game.
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.
Who doesn’t love a rollicking good time that ends with a huge doggie smile – all to benefit a good cause? As dog lovers, we are often a part of charitable canine organizations or wish we could help raise funds for specific doggy needs. Yet it can be hard to come up with fun ways to get people to participate.
Here is a list of dog benefit ideas that you can whip out the next time your favorite shelter, pet charity or dog in need deserves a little organized help. Each of these has activities that are dog-themed and/or allows dogs to participate. Otherwise, how could we call them wag-worthy?
Dog Walks/5k Run Events
Many cities across the country have these events, and a 5k walk or run might work in your town, too. One way to raise money through this event is to get your participants to take pledges for distance increments or if they finish the race. You could even have a box for people to donate needed items. One way to spice up this event is to have runners come in costume – and their dogs, too! You can either pick a theme or let it be anything goes.
Make sure you train your dog for the event, just like you wouldn’t go run a marathon without being an experienced runner. Although dogs may seem ready-made to tackle a long run, they can also get hurt or become ill if they don’t build up their endurance. Also, be sure you train by actually running with your dog, so they are used to your rhythm.
Mini Pet Fairs
What better way to spark up a fun atmosphere of charitable giving than with a fair? You can have games for the dogs, like “find the stuffed animal” or agility contests. Have supporting companies set up booths as vendors. Pet fairs can also feature adoptions.
We know it’s important to keep our dogs active to help prevent obesity and keep them healthy in body and spirit. Most dogs are willing partners when you want to go hiking, biking, jogging or walking, or participate in a fun sport like dock diving, Disc Dog, agility or flyball. The last thing any responsible pet owner wants to do is put their dog at risk for injury, but without realizing it we can be guilty of doing just that.
Too much exercise with no conditioning
Most dogs have an athletic side. They love to run, play, jump and race around as fast as they can. Because they want to be with us, preferably everywhere we go, we can easily forget that a dog may not be ready for a five mile run or an afternoon of hiking. Like us, dogs need conditioning and time to build up muscles and stamina. They are as susceptible to soft tissue injuries as we are, and can pull a tendon or get a sprain. Many dogs do enjoy sports, but just like any human athlete-in-training, it’s important to start slow and take the time needed to gradually get into shape for any physical activity.
Make sure your dog can keep up with you, and you can keep up with him. A Chihuahua isn’t a good running partner, and a Greyhound may leave you in his dust. If your dog isn’t on equal terms with you as far as his fitness goes, a walk around the block may be enough exercise for him. If your dog has more energy than you do, play with him in the backyard, then take him for a walk or run.
Forgetting how weather can affect a dog
The pads of a dog’s feet act like shock absorbers to cushion the feet and protect them when walking on hot and cold surfaces. But the pads can be burned by walking on a hot surface like asphalt, concrete or metal. Check your pet’s paw pads for cuts, puncture wounds, burrs or small rocks, and keep their pads healthy by making sure they are free of injuries.
Know the signs of heat stroke, hyperthermia and hypothermia, and pay attention to how well your dog tolerates different weather conditions. Hydration is important for both of you – always have fresh water available for you and your dog when exercising. Don’t force your pet to continue exercising if he’s showing signs of fatigue. You may be ready to go another mile, but your dog may not be.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.