Have you decided on your New Year’s Resolution? Don’t worry if you haven’t, it’s not too late! Many people choose to change their diet, or improve their relationships with loved ones. Some people aim for a promotion at work. Most people, however, will pick getting back in shape as their primary objective. Unfortunately, due to the varying levels of difficulty, many people abandon this goal not long after beginning it.
Exercising with your pet is a great way to keep both of you in shape, and to build and strengthen your relationship along the way! Did you know that dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes per week, whereas people without dogs walk only about 168 minutes? Apparently, our dogs motivate us to stay active!
There are many benefits to exercising your pets. Not only does exercising keep your pets happy, healthy and out of trouble, but also contribute to the following:
• Keeps them healthy, agile, and limber
• Helps to reduce digestive problems and constipation
• Helps timid or fearful dogs build up confidence and trust
• Helps dogs feel sleepy, rather than restless at bedtime
• Helps to keep the pet’s weight under control
Not exercising your pet can lead to many problems. If you have ever had a child, you will most likely relate, a quiet toddler means something naughty is going on. The same goes for your pets. Generally, if they are not given something constructive to do with their time, they will likely find other ways to occupy themselves. These things, like with the toddlers, are not always good.
Some of the most common behavioral problems seen in animals that are not given enough exercise are as follows:
• Destructive chewing, digging, or scratching
• Investigative behaviors like garbage raiding
• Hyper activity, excitability, and night-time activity
• Unruliness, knocking over furniture, jumping on people
• Excessive predatory and social play
• Attention-getting behaviors like barking and whining
Not only is it important for both humans and animals to exercise adequately for their physical health, but exercise is also a great way to maintain and grow the bond that you and your pet have for each other.
A new year is a new beginning, and a great way to start it would be to get back in shape (not that it ever left you of course) by getting outside and getting going!
Happy New Year!
Dr. Linda Register DVM, CVA – East West Animal Hospital
Information based on ASPCA – Exercise for Dogs