It’s no secret that we strongly believe sharing your home and your life with a dog is a wonderful and rewarding experience. But we also know that it comes with challenges for both you and your dog. To make sure you get the most out of life with your pup, we’re sharing our favorite how-tos, tips, and tricks that every dog parent should know. Read on to learn about the importance of developing a regular exercise routine for your dog and be sure to check back monthly for new educational content.
We all know the importance of creating and maintaining healthy habits for ourselves. Eating right, getting enough sleep, and regularly exercising are proven ways to promote physical and mental well-being. But these behaviors don’t always come naturally or easily to us. Developing and sticking to a consistent routine is one of the most important ways for healthy habits to become second nature.
Unsurprisingly, our pets benefit from many of the same habits that keep us feeling our best. You likely already have a good food routine for your dog, feeding them meals at the same time each day—and there are more healthy and wholesome food options available than ever before. As for sleep, dogs are pretty good at that on their own.
But what about exercise? Aside from a few quick potty breaks a day, does your dog have a regular exercise routine? If not, how do you start creating healthy exercise habits for your pup? Read on to learn why regular exercise is so important for dogs and get our tips on how to create and maintain this vital habit.
Why Regular Exercise Is Important for Your Dog
Perhaps the most obvious reason your dog needs regular exercise is the same reason most humans think about exercising: physical health. Consistent activity helps your dog maintain a healthy weight along with strong bones and muscles. Obesity comes with a wide range of risks for your pet’s health, including heart problems, joint aches and pains, increased risk of torn ligaments, and a greater chance of back or hip injuries that may require long-term medical treatment or even surgery.
That said, your dog likely isn’t worried about keeping their body beach-ready. Just like humans see mental and emotional benefits from regular exercise, dogs who are consistently active often have fewer behavioral issues. Whether it’s curbing destructive impulses or providing a healthy outlet for anxious energy, a solid exercise routine just helps your dog feel good.
Even better? When your dog feels good, it’s likely you will too. It’s commonly said that “a tired dog is a good dog”, and we couldn’t agree more. A pup who is happily napping from a long walk or vigorous play session isn’t chewing on furniture or other forbidden items and they’re far less likely to bark, whine, and beg for your attention. Whether you work from home and need to maintain a quiet environment, or you simply want to relax and unwind in the evenings, prioritizing daily exercise for your dog is a great way to ensure a calmer and more relaxed pup at home.
How to Make Sure Your Dog Gets Enough Exercise
A common question many owners have is, “How much exercise does my dog need?” Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule. Age, breed, and temperament all influence the optimum amount of exercise your dog needs.
Puppies have a lot of energy to burn, but they also do better with short bursts of activity. Long, intense walks or play sessions can be hard on a puppy’s developing body. Adult dogs can also vary widely in the amount of exercise required. Dog breeds with working or sporting backgrounds require much more daily activity than breeds that were bred primarily as companions. Additionally, brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs often have a harder time breathing in extreme cold or heat. Finally, senior dogs generally need less exercise and it’s a good idea for them to avoid high-impact activities.
Once you’ve taken all of that into account, it may seem hard to know where to start. Don’t worry, we promise it’s easier than it seems.
Take Longer Walks
If you’re already walking your dog a few times a day for potty breaks, simply adding some time to one of those walks is a good way to slowly increase your dog’s activity level. You don’t need to go on an epic hike or run a 5K; we promise your pup will appreciate even an extra 10-15 minutes of walking time.
To start learning your individual dog’s activity requirements, pay attention to their behavior on longer walks. Are they stopping, laying down, or generally becoming difficult to keep moving? That’s probably a good sign they’ve hit their limit. Make a note of how long you walked (or use the stopwatch feature on your phone to track the time) and use that as a guideline for the future.
If sneaking in more time on daily walks is hard for you, consider booking regular walks for your dog with a professional dog walker. District Dogs offers 15- and 25- minute walks; we even offer morning, evening, and weekend walks! Our small-group walks offer the perfect blend of exercise and socialization. If you have a puppy who isn’t quite ready for group walking, we also offer in-home puppy play sessions—a great way to make sure your new puppy gets the gentle, engaging activity they need.
Make Regular Play Sessions a Part of Your Routine
Regular play sessions are a fantastic way to provide your dog with plenty of exercise while allowing your dog to manage their own activity level. Even if your pup gets tired on a walk, you still have to get back home. But an in-home play session, daycare visit, or trip to the dog park allows your pup to simply stop when they run out of gas.
Creating a regular play routine can be as simple as carving out time daily (or a few times a week) to play tug or fetch at home. You can also plan visits to your local dog park, weather permitting. Dog daycare is another way to ensure your dog enjoys regular, active play sessions. Whether you book every day or a few times a week, a full or half-day of daycare is an easy way to give your pup a chance to get out some energy and make new friends—regardless of the weather outside.
District Dogs offers multiple play spaces at each of our locations to ensure your furry friend enjoys a daycare experience that’s just their speed. Bigger, active dogs can romp in one area, while small, senior, or slightly more sluggish pups can take it easy together. You can even watch the fun with our live HD webcams. If you aren’t sure whether or not daycare is a good fit for your dog, our complimentary two-hour evaluation offers your pup a chance to get a feel for the experience—and comes with a report card to let you know how things went!
Give Your Pup a Mental Workout with Training
Learning new commands and behaviors is a great way to keep your dog physically and mentally active. Besides the obvious benefits of having a well-behaved pup, working on a training protocol provides an opportunity for your dog to practice problem-solving skills, flex their mental muscles, and it can even help strengthen your bond.
Many pet owners think of training as something only useful for puppies, but consistent good behavior is the product of constant investment in training. Adult dogs need the lessons of early training reinforced on a regular basis, and they also benefit from the mental stimulation that comes with learning new commands. The solid foundation and bond created by regular training can even help prevent and correct undesirable behaviors like aggression, fearfulness, leash-pulling, resource-guarding, and more.
If you’re not sure where to start with training, consulting a professional trainer is a great way to get a general idea of your dog’s current obedience level and access guidance on continuing their behavioral development. Group training sessions are a popular and easy way to introduce basic commands while providing an opportunity for your dog to socialize and make new friends. Puppies and adult dogs alike benefit from the solid behavioral foundation provided by our group manners classes, and they’ll get plenty of stimulation and exercise during the off-leash play time included in these sessions.
For more focused attention or help addressing specific issues, private training sessions offer a customized approach to your dog’s needs. District Dogs works with our training partners to offer private training during your dog’s daycare visit or boarding stay with us. From behavior basics—sit, down, name recognition, etc.—to enforcing good leash etiquette and more, private training teaches your dog while also providing you with guidance on maintaining and building good behaviors after the session is over.
An Active Dog is a Happy Dog
Regardless of the activity you choose, creating and maintaining a regular exercise routine is vital to ensuring a healthy and happy pup. The physical benefits alone make consistent activity valuable to your dog, but once you see how much your dog enjoys the energy release and mental stimulation that come with regular exercise, you’ll never go back. District Dogs offers a variety of services designed to give your pup the fun and exercise they crave. If you need further assistance in finding the right outlet for your pup’s energy, don’t hesitate to contact us.