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Dogs are naturally active animals that require plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation. But how do you determine the right amount of activity for your furry friend to keep them fit and healthy? A well-thought-out exercise plan can help. In this blog post, you’ll receive valuable tips and insights. 

Why is regular exercise so crucial? 

Regular activity offers a multitude of benefits for your dog: 

Physical Fitness 

An active lifestyle ensures that your dog’s muscles are trained and remain in shape. This prevents muscle loss while promoting muscle growth. Regular movement also improves the overall blood circulation in the body. This has the advantage of efficiently transporting oxygen and nutrients to the organs and muscles. The cardiovascular system, in particular, benefits from consistent exercise, as the heart becomes stronger and can work more efficiently. 

Weight Control 

Too much rest and too little activity can quickly lead to your dog gaining excessive weight. This can result in various health issues, such as joint problems or cardiovascular diseases. Regular walks and play sessions ensure that your dog burns calories and maintains an optimal weight range. 

Mental Stimulation 

two dogs on a wood trail
image: Helena Lopes – pexels.com

Diverse walks provide your dog with not only physical but also mental exercise. New scents, different environments, and unfamiliar stimuli foster curiosity and cognitive abilities in your dog. Regularly solving tasks and exploring new areas help your four-legged friend stay mentally sharp. 

Social Behavior  

Dogs are inherently social beings. Playing and communicating with other dogs teach them how to behave in various scenarios. These interactions promote social skills, such as reading body signals, addressing the needs of other dogs, and behaving in a group. This is essential for harmonious coexistence with other animals. 

Reduction of Behavioral Issues 

An unstimulated dog might easily develop undesirable behaviors, such as excessive barking, destruction of items, or hyperactivity. Regular outings and activities drain excess energy. A satisfied dog is typically more content, calmer, and displays fewer behavioral issues. It results in a more balanced personality, making coexistence for both the dog and the owner more pleasant. 

Creating the Right Exercise Plan 

The amount and type of exercise required can vary based on the age, health, breed, and temperament of your dog. 

Puppies and Young Dogs  

Puppy jumping in grass
image: 947051 – pixabay.com

At this early stage of their life, dogs are especially curious and eager to learn, yet they also have a lot of energy they’d like to expend. However, it’s essential to note that their bones, muscles, and joints are still developing. Therefore, short but frequent walks and play sessions are ideal. During this time, they can explore the world and perceive their surroundings without getting overexerted. Excessive strain or prolonged walks can harm their still-developing joints. It’s also an excellent time to start basic training and simple commands, as puppies at this age are particularly receptive. 

Adult Dogs 

Once dogs are fully grown, they typically have a lot of energy that needs to be channeled. A minimum of 1 to 2 hours of activity per day is necessary for most breeds to be physically and mentally stimulated. This activity can take the form of walks, active games like fetch, or dog sports like agility or obedience. Engaging in these sports can not only strengthen the bond between the dog and its owner but also provide mental challenges, which are often just as important as physical exercise. 

Senior Dogs  

As dogs age, their energy might diminish, but the need for regular exercise remains. While they might no longer have the stamina for long hikes or intense play sessions, they still benefit from short, consistent walks. These help keep their joints flexible, control their weight, and also provide vital mental stimulation. It’s essential to tailor the pace and intensity of the exercise to the individual condition of the senior dog and always watch for signs of fatigue or discomfort. A moderate pace and potentially softer terrains, like grass or forest paths, can be ideal for senior dogs. 

Tips for a Varied Exercise Routine 

New Routes  

Brown dog with large Stick in his mouth
image: Jamie Street – unsplash.com

It’s easy to fall into the habit of always choosing the same walking path. But for your dog, exploring new areas can be an exciting experience. By switching up walking routes, you give your furry friend the opportunity to take in new scents, see different landscapes, and face new challenges. Try to incorporate various parks, forests, or urban areas into your exercise plan to continuously stimulate your dog’s curiosity. 

Toys 

Incorporating toys during exercise can be a great way to enhance the fun factor for your dog. Balls, frisbees, or ropes can not only contribute to physical activity but also strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Toys also promote agility and your dog’s reaction speed. 

Dog Sports

Border Collie dog sports
image: お花さん – pixabay.com

There’s a wide range of dog sports that can boost both the physical and mental stimulation of your dog. Agility offers courses with various obstacles that require skill and speed. Canicross is a cross-country run where you run alongside your dog while they’re attached to a pulling cord. Flyball is a relay race involving balls. Look into local clubs or training groups to find out which sport suits you and your furry friend best. 

Training Times 

The daily exercise can also be an opportunity to teach your dog basic commands or new tricks. Even short training sessions during walks can have a positive effect and help instill discipline and obedience in your dog. It also strengthens the bond between you two, as it’s based on mutual trust and understanding. Use the exercise time for commands like “Sit”, “Stay”, or “Come”, but don’t forget to reward your dog for good behavior. 

Conclusion 

No matter your dog’s activity level, a well-thought-out exercise plan ensures a balanced, healthy, and happy dog life. Always remember to cater to your four-legged friend’s needs and prioritize fun. Only a happy dog is a healthy dog! 

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