Our dogs are natural athletes. Before they became our companions, they had to fill their own dinner bowl and slackers didn’t survive a life on the wild side. Once they joined up with people, dogs used their talents to sniff out critters, point them out, herd or course them down or even catch them. Protection dogs targeted the bad guys while so-called lap dogs, often miniatures of other working breeds, kept our feet warm and entertained with their good humor.
Today, the doggy day job mostly focuses on being good companions. That means when the weather turns foul or owners are infirm, they transform from athletes into canine couch potatoes. An active dog also helps keep owners active so that’s for them both. Here are a few of the benefits of an active dog.
Keeps Dogs Slim Active dogs burn more calories than when they sleep all the time. Without the right amount of exercise and activity, dogs pack on the pounds just like people do. Extra weight can predispose a dog to diabetes, skin problems and arthritis, too. Besides impacting their health, the extra medical cost hits owners in the pocketbook while keeping dogs active only costs a bit of extra time.
Lubricates The Brain Moving around more also gives dogs a reason to think. The old saying, “use it or lose it” applies to canine brains, too. So regular activity helps keep your dog not just physically fit but also mentally sharp and can ward off dog Alzheimer’s conditions that affect old pets.
Loosens Creaky Joints Old dogs develop arthritis and sore joints reduce their inclination to move around. But if they just sit around, that creates a vicious circle where they gain more weight which puts more strain on painful joints, and so on. Moving, even a little bit, helps reduce this biological rust and even makes arthritic dogs feel better when they shed some poundage.
Reduces Dog Boredom Bored dogs get into trouble. A Border Collie breed to herd sheep may instead turn to rounding up the cat or toddler, or emptying your sock drawer. Dogs become a nuisance with lots of barking or even turn into demolition experts out of boredom. Healthy activity gives dogs something constructive to do and it also tires them out. A tired dog is often the best behaved dog.
Prolongs Life Studies have shown that keeping dogs on the thin side actually adds a year or two to their life. So providing healthy activities for your dogs can mean you get to enjoy each other that much longer. That’s win-win for you both.
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.
More on Exercise for Dogs
Exercise for Dogs With Arthritis
Exercise for Dogs to Prevent and Treat Joint Health Issues
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight