One of the sorriest sights for a pet lover is to see a doddery, clearly overweight dog shuffling along in obvious discomfort. The poor old pooch, of course, in the vast majority of cases is not to be blamed for this unhealthy state. Somewhere along the line someone has let the animal down badly in terms of providing the necessary exercise.
In many ways exercise is the key to a healthy dog. Take note next time you are on one of those beaches at the seaside, where dogs are allowed. The ones running about chasing balls, sticks and pebbles, or those splashing excitedly in the waves are those who look not only the fittest, but the most mentally alert as well – in other words a picture of natural heath.
Were you also aware that regular exercise can help make your dog better behaved; sleep better; and likely to live longer?
Conversely, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that a lack of exercise can lead to a dog suffering from serious and possibly fatal illnesses, obesity naturally leading to the inevitable heart problems. It can also result in hyperactivity, excessive barking and, in some cases, aggression, including biting.
The emphasis, however, is on the word ‘regular’. Exercise is not all that beneficial if it is hit and miss.
So what is ideal? At least three short walks every day, with one of them also providing some more explosive action – you know the sort of thing, strenuous games of ‘fetch’ for example.
Training is another important aspect of dog ownership, and exercise can play a vital role in this, too. The more exercise your dog has the easier will be those training routines. Why? Because, exercise acts as an outlet for your dog to use up energy and increases the ability to focus attention. Therefore, well exercised dogs cannot be easily distracted and do not become bored with training. ‘Simples’, as the meerkat might say.
Exercising with your dog also provides you with the opportunity to build up that special relationship with your pet. You work together for your mutual benefit in terms of fitness and bonding, and the closer you become.
Dogs also appreciate the different sights, sounds and smells – particularly the latter – of those ‘walkies’, whether in the park, on the beach or in the countryside. Meeting with other dogs also enables them to become more sociable – and helps you to recognise which particular breed or type of dog is better avoided!
You might also be surprised at the number of other dog-walkers with whom you strike up a friendly relationship through your exercising canines.
There was one particular owner, for example, who never knew the names of such people with whom she came into contact, but knew the names of the dogs! So it was always, ‘I met that lovely woman from down the road this morning. You know who I mean. Max’s mum!’
A real name-dropper she was. But the exercise did her good. Not to mention her dog.