Know the BenefitsRegular exercise can have a tremendous impact on your dog’s overall well-being. Dogs that get regular workouts enjoy a higher metabolism, smaller appetite, better muscle tone, and even better temperature regulation – a very important benefit for dogs in hot or humid climates.
In addition, exercise helps ward off canine obesity, a growing problem among our beloved pets, and helps prevent boredom as well. Behavioral issues often stem from a dog’s unmet instinctive desires to do things like dig, herd, retrieve, or hunt. By engaging your pup’s mind with positive activities, you’ll prevent him from finding destructive ways to satisfy his instincts, like digging or chewing inappropriately.
Consult Your Vet
Exercise needs can vary widely based on age, breed, and sex, as well as a dog’s individual health. If your dog is a 6- to 18-month adolescent or a sporting, herding, hound, or terrier breed or mixed breed, your dog’s exercise requirements are likely high. However, strenuous exercise can cause problems in some dogs, especially those that are not fit or are very young or old.
For this reason, it’s important that you talk with your vet before embarking on any new exercise routines with your dog. Athletic owners who run, jog, or perform other strenuous activities must be aware of their dog’s potential limitations. Also, be keenly aware of extreme weather conditions -- make sure to go easy on hot, humid, or cold days, and take plenty of breaks. If the dog is lagging behind, tiring, or struggling, head home and make the next exercise session slower (less strenuous) and shorter.
Tip: Go slowly when introducing your dog to a new exercise routine, gradually building for the first weeks as he adapts. It’s always best to ask your veterinarian’s advice on how to safely increase your dog’s activity level.
There’s no shortage of ways to fulfill your dog’s exercise requirements, so try a number of activities to find which ones suit you and your dog’s needs. Here’s a list of the most common canine workout activities.Walking or jogging
- Running off leash (only where safe and appropriate)
- Playing with other pets
- Tricks for low-calorie treats (see below)
Consider Low-Calorie TreatsIf tricks are your dog’s favorite pastime, low-calorie treats will encourage him to perform without negating his other calorie-burning activities. If your pet has any food allergies, consult your vet to determine which treats are safe and healthy for you dog.
- Apple slices
- Banana slices
- Carrot slices
- Low-calorie commercial treats
- Green beans
- Lean, cooked meat
- Melon chunks
- Pear slices
- Popcorn (without butter or oil)
- Rice cake pieces
This article was reviewed by a Veterinarian.