Dog Behavior Tips: Exercise
Engaging in physical exercise triggers a chain of chemical reactions in the body and brain that promote a feeling of calm.
The mechanism works in essentially the same way in both dogs and people. Have you ever noticed how relaxed your dog is after a long walk? Achieving that calm, relaxed state is important, and doubly so for anxious, fearful, hyperactive, or aggressive dogs.
How much exercise your dog needs depends on his breed, size, age, and physical condition. If your dog is not accustomed to regular exercise, start slowly. Build duration and intensity gradually, and don’t count on your dog to tell you when he is tired.
- Walks: Daily walks allow for not only physical exertion, but mental stimulation in the form of stimulating scents.
- Hikes: Like walks, but in a fabulous doggy amusement park!
- Outdoor Play: If your dog will retrieve, toss a ball in your backyard. If your dog is reliable off-leash and is dog-friendly, playing with other dogs at the dog park is a great form of exercise. If you have a swimming pool, let your dog swim! Swimming is great cardiovascular exercise and strengthens muscles without stressing joints. Consider dog sports such as agility, tracking, and Rally O.
- Indoor Exercise: Tug is a great game that can be played with a rope toy and has the added benefit of building canine confidence. Fetch is another great indoor game if you have the space. And don’t forget recreational chewing! It provides exercise for your dog’s jaws, is an excellent outlet for excess energy, and has the important benefit of being a canine stress-reliever. Appropriate chew toys should always be available.
- If you’re too busy: Consider doggy daycare, a neighbor who might like to switch off “play dates,” or a professional dog walker.
Wanna have the most well-behaved pup on your block? Check out AHS' Dog Training classes!
Although pets need exercise daily, it is important to take weather conditions into account when exercising your dog outdoors, especially during the summer. View our Summer Pet Safety Tips to ensure your pet is safe this summer.
Check with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any exercise program or sport. Young puppies and dogs with injured or weak shoulders, knees, ankles, or hips should not engage in any activity that involves jumping, or compete in any strenuous sport.