Mutt Moves: Dog Exercise for Busy Lifestyles

It should be no surprise given today’s hectic lifestyles that obesity rates among pet dogs are through the roof. Just like people, overweight dogs are at a higher risk for serious health problems that can dramatically affect the quality of life as well as lifespan.

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Fit dogs have lower risks of:

  • Diabetes
  • Injury
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Digestive disorders

Getting your K9 moving does not require a huge time investment. There are countless indoor and outdoor exercise ideas to get your dog more active that are loads of fun. In this article, we will look at how to make the most of your time with Fido.

Signs Your Dog Needs More Exercise

There is no magic number when it comes to determining how much exercise your canine companion needs. A very general range is between 30 minutes to 2 hours per day of vigorous activity. This is such a loose guide, however, that we need to look at some other factors to determine the optimal levels of exercise for any single canine.

Breed and life stage are the two most important factors that impact exercise needs in dogs. Working, Herding and Sporting breeds tend to need the most exercise. Senior dogs of any breed tend to need less than they did when they were younger.

Another factor that could be impacting your pet’s exercise needs is underlying medical conditions or injuries according to Southern Hills Veterinary Hospital. It is particularly important in such cases to consult with a vet to make sure you identify activities that are appropriate for your dog.

Your fur baby probably needs more exercise if any of the following is true:

  • Your veterinarian has raised a red flag about their weight.
  • They seem anxious or hyper-vigilant.
  • They have less focus than normal.
  • They are barking excessively.
  • They chew on things other than their toys.
  • They are getting into trouble by ignoring house rules.

Mental vs. Physical Exercise 

One popular misconception about exercise for dogs is that physical activity alone is enough to “wear them out.” In fact, most canines also require regular mental stimulation to be balanced. If you are aware of this, you can look for opportunities to combine mental and physical stimulation for the most efficient use of your doggy time.

Mentally challenging exercises can be as simple as engaging their senses or as complex as training them to run an obstacle course.

Another tip is to combine training with fun activities like fetch. Instead of just repeatedly tossing the ball, try asking for some tricks before rewarding them with a toss. Or, have them sit and wait while you toss the ball and then release them to go “find it” with their nose.

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Consider a Dog Sport 

There are so many great sports for canines these days! You might think dog sports require too much time commitment, however, there are lots of options that require a less up-front investment of your time.

The following organized activities require little time commitment and offer a huge mental and physical payoff for your furry friend:

  • Flyball
  • Lure coursing
  • Dock Diving
  • Dog Parkour

If you are looking for a sport that will become a more time intensive hobby to share with your dog, consider:

  • Agility
  • Scent trials
  • Freestyle (frisbee)
  • Dog Dancing
  • Herding Trials

Getting involved in organized canine activities is a great way to meet other dog lovers. It also gives you a chance to find other dogs for your little guy or gal to play with. This not only offers mental and physical stimulation but also gives your pal a chance to socialize with other dogs. It is an all-around win.

Play Games with Your Dog 

Sometimes adding a small activity to your daily routine is enough to satisfy your companion’s need for stimulation. As long as you are combining mental and physical exercise you can often meet your dog’s needs in just a few 15-minute sessions a day.

Games are a fun way to play with your dog and get them (and maybe you!) active in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore. Here are some ideas:

  • Fetch – Remember that asking for a known behavior before the toss is a great way to add some mental stimulation to this fun game.
  • Tug of War – Don’t be afraid to let your dog win sometimes. Contrary to popular belief, letting your pup win at tug fosters confidence and keeps them engaged and excited to play.
  • Hide and Seek – Fun to play with a group, particularly kids. Everyone can hide in different rooms of the house with some rewards and take turns calling the dog to them.
  • Find it! – Hide a toy and have your dog find it. Start easy and make it more difficult as they get better at this game.
  • Blanket games – If you love rough and tumble play, throw a blanket in the mix to really get your little buddy wound up!

Professional Services

If you find yourself in the position of having more money than time, you may want to check into the professional services available in your area. Even many smaller towns have great options for doggy socialization and stimulation with people who have chosen to build a career around spending time with pets.

Often these services are reasonably priced, especially if you use them regularly and can get discounts on repeated use of services.

Professional dog walkers will come to your house to take your companion out for a long walk. Often these folks have training expertise and you may even find that your dog finally learns how to walk well on a leash!

Doggy daycares are a fast-growing industry, and most towns offer more than one choice. These centers have large play spaces where your dog gets to join others for free play with other pups. Professional “dog wranglers” are trained to spot potential dogfights to nip tensions in the bud before an actual fight breaks out. Still, there is a small risk of injury. If you know your dog is prone to aggression with other dogs, this is not a good choice.

Regardless of what path you chose, we hope this article helps you think about how you might incorporate more exercise for your dog into your busy schedule. Remember to keep it fun so that both you and your pooch will look forward to time spent bonding together and getting more active!

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