Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness
Dogs are dependent on their owners to keep them healthy, active and in turn happy pets. There are a number of things that you as their owner can do to ensure that you can do this for them from puppy-hood on wards:
1) Regular Exercise: Daily exercise is imperative for your dog's good health and well-being. It helps keep their weight stable, maintains a strong cardiovascular and immune system and builds their energy levels. Make exercise interesting and varied by changing your usual walking route and pattern regularly. Also include games and training in your walk and set out before your dog has eaten, allowing a period of rest after exercise before any feeding. For older pets, little and often exercise is preferable, around fifteen to thirty minutes two to three times a day. This will keep them fit, while hopefully avoiding any joint damage.
2) Encourage Play: Play isn't just a fun part of having a dog as a pet; it has been proven to be an essential feature of how we all stay emotionally and physically healthy. It is important to play with your dog regularly. The games that you play depend on what type of dog you have. Retrievers and Spaniels like to retrieve objects. Collies like herding and assisting and hounds and terriers like to use their noses to follow scents. All dogs enjoy toys and any play involving outdoors.
3) Training: If you have had a difficult time training your dog because he is too distracted and bouncy, try exercising him first. This can take the edge off their exuberance and make them more focused on training. Daily walks are also a great opportunity to incorporate training into a routine. Also if training is made fun then it won't seem to be a chore.
4) Socialisation: Puppies and young dogs need to be exposed to all kinds of experiences in order to become comfortable in new situations and environments. Your dog’s daily exercise regime is a chance for him to meet new dogs and people, to see and hear new things and experience different terrains.
5) Emotional Health: Sunlight stimulates the production of Endorphins including serotonin and dopamine that help keep us all in good spirits. So just by being outside can improve your and your dog's emotional health. Couple this with additional appropriate exercise, which is also proven to improve emotional well-being, and you will have a very happy pet!
6) Improves Behaviour: Physical exercise is known be one of the most efficient stress-busters. Also regular mental stimulation is also vital to help keep your dog in a healthy emotional state. Exercise allows your dog to release pent up energies which if left unchannelled can result in some disruptive behaviours. It also helps your dog maintain and build his muscle tone and flexibility while keeping him focused, alert and challenged.
So to ensure good physical and mental health, do make sure that your dog has adequate periods of varied and fun exercise each day appropriate to his age and stage. If you have any queries regarding your pets exercise and training regime please contact your Vet for advice.