There are three ways or categories I have found for exercising your dog, and those are: Play, Physical, and Mental. All three of these categories are very important to the well being of your dog. The benefits of exercising your dog properly are just to numerous not to do it. A well exercised dog will be calmer, more fit, and will have less emotional problems, just to name a few of the benefits. If your dog is anxious, jittery or hyper then exercise can go a long way to helping your dog become happy and healthy, and that is what we all want for our lovable fur balls. A tired dog is a happy dog!
Play: There are many ways to play with your dog, we all know dogs are playful so why not take advantage and help your dog get in a little physical and mental exercise while playing. Lets take the game of fetch for example, most dogs love this game. However if you are a husky owner, like myself, you may want to find another game... Huskies do not fetch. Whether you know it or not there is a lot going on during a simple game of fetch, there is the physical exercise your dog gets from running after the ball or stick, and there is mental stimulation as well... having to find the ball, bringing it back to you and hopefully following your command to drop or release the ball. Most of all play time allows your dog a little freedom. A game of fetch in an open, secure area allows your dog to run off leash. It allows your dog to decide how he or she is going to go after the ball, how fast or slow to run, which path to the ball it takes. These are all things your dog will be free to do on his/her own terms. The best thing about play time is your dog will be interacting with you. An hour of fetch can do wonders for your dog. There are many fun things you can do with your dog that will incorporate exercise. Be creative and do the things your dog likes to do and there will be a lot of fun for you and your dog during play time.
Physical: Physical exercise plays a very important role in keeping your dog healthy and happy. Physical exercise includes everything from long walks to play time. If your are not able to take your dog for at least an hour walk each day, there may be some things you can do to shorten that time span, but you will have to exercise your dog everyday. Depending on the breed of dog you have there are ways of incorporating chores and work for your dog that will make the walk a little more challenging. For example if you have a breed like a husky, hitching your dog to a wagon and have them do some pulling will greatly increase the amount of exercise your dog gets in a set period of time. Pulling is what huskies love to do, but this trick works well with most mid sized to larger dogs. If you have a big dog like a mastiff you may want to add some weight to that wagon. This kind of thing will give the dog a sense of purpose and will help stimulate them mentally as well. If pulling a wagon is not good for you, you could buy doggie saddle bags. Put this on your dog when you go for a walk, you can put your water bottle, clean up bags, and maybe a snack in the saddle bags and this will give your dog a chore that will increase the amount of physical exercise. Depending on the size of your dog, you can add a little weight to the saddle bags, however you should check with your vet before doing this to ensure you have a safe weight limit for your dog. I do think it is important to note, while you walk your dog you should not let your dog walk in front of you or pull you, you need to make sure your dog knows you are leading. If you do not do this and you let your dog lead while on walks, it could lead to behavioral problems later. As a last resort, for physical exercise, you can train your dog to use the treadmill, this will at the very least help to burn off any excess energy your dog may have stored up.
Mental: This is a type of exercise that far to often gets over looked by most dog owners. It is vital to have your dog think, it will keep them focused and happy. It is another important cog in the wheel for your dogs health and happiness. The best way to give your dog mental stimulation is through teaching your dog commands and giving them chores to do. Simple commands such as sit, stay, and come are good ways to start your dog on the road to good mental stimulation. I will be covering how to teach your dog some of these things in later articles and videos, so keep an eye out for them. You should start with simple commands and build on them, be creative and take them as far as you can. I have found that my Lab, Jasmine, loves to play seek and find with her toys. I will hide her toy and have her find it. She loves it and I can see the amount of decision making that goes into finding her toys. It is a great mental exercise for her. You should try to do some sort of mental exercise with your dog every day. It does not take long and the rewards are great. If you put in a little time and effort, you will be amazed at how much your dog can accomplish
If you ensure your dog is getting enough play time, physical exercise, and mental stimulation you will find you have a very happy content dog.
Thank you for reading, and remember, keep your furry family members healthy and happy.